When the Princess was in second or third grade, and came home crying, facing mean girl drama for the first time, I wrote her a letter. I wrote about dealing with those mean girls, why girls are mean, what would be coming her way as she finished elementary school and began middle school. I kept writing the letters…..letters about boys, crushes, being herself, doing scary things that will stretch her mind and personality, self-image, and just about everything else I could think of. I’ve never given those letters to her. They sit in a file on my computer. The plan was to put them into a book for one of her birthdays. I never made it that far.
Funny thing about having a lot of time in the car with your teenage daughter nearly every day – we talk. She can be really quiet some days, choosing to fall asleep for the twenty-minute trip. Some days, we turn up the music and just sing. But then some days, we talk and talk and talk. She usually starts it off, either telling me about her day, her friends, her project at school. Or she will ask me a question – you know, the questions we dread as parents but are oh so thankful our child has the courage to ask, even more that our child seems to listen to our answers.
The questions started small…..was I ever bullied in school, when did I have my first boyfriend/date/kiss. She’s moved on to bigger and scarier within the last year or so…how old was I the first time I had sex, how did I feel about it, do I believe in “soul mates”, how did Daddy and I meet, how did I know he was “the one”, what’s it like to be pregnant/give birth, when did I get my period, how much does that hurt? I can usually figure out when those big questions are coming – she gets this particular look on her face, and becomes quiet, and then she comes out with whatever is on her mind.
Those conversations are terrifying, but I’m honest with her. She deserves that. I own whatever mistakes I’ve made. I let her know being a parent is hard, and I often feel I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I am immensely grateful she has the courage to ask questions, so when she asks, I answer best as I can. We have great talks. I’m taking advantage of her listening, praying it sticks with her (not that I have all the answers). I never had the courage to talk to my mom about the things Princess asks me. It does feel weird to talk with her about much of it. But I feel if I stop answering, stop encouraging her to ask, she will start pulling away, and will distrust everything I’ve told her this far.
So no, I haven’t given her the letters I wrote. I don’t feel I have to for now. I will save them, and probably give them to her someday. But we’ve talked about everything I wrote, and then some. Letter to P have become Conversations with P. I’m one thankful/grateful momma.