Hello my boys,
As I write this, you are 12 and 8 years old, and I am 43. I have lived probably about half my life, give or take some years. Although you both think I was born this age, I actually started out as a child! A baby even. Weird, I know. I started as a baby and grew to this age, and along the way, I learned a few things that might help you in your journey to whatever lies at the end of this road.
I will try not to get philosophical and I will try to keep this short. I will be honest with you, it took me a long time to learn some of these things myself and some I work on still, but my hope for you both is that you actually listen to my words and you realize that I come from a place of pure love for the both of you.
There will come a time when you both will fall in love, the kind of love that will knock you on your booties. It will happen. Love is grand. Love is lovely. I LOVE love. What you need to know about love is that you cannot “fix” anyone. It is not your duty as a friend or boyfriend to be a magic elixir for someone else. There is a bit of a romantic notion attached to the “broken” individual. It is not romantic to be a mess or to be attached to a mess. It will rub off on you and leave you a little “broken” and messy in the process, and won’t do a thing to fix the other person. Be supportive, but realize, the hard work that needs to be done will need to be done by the person who is “broken”.
Don’t be afraid of love. Don’t be afraid to express it, and don’t be afraid when someone shares their love with you. When someone gives you their heart, be gentle with it. You don’t have to love everyone who loves you, and you probably won’t, but you don’t have to play with the hearts of those who love you. Don’t be that guy.
You will screw up. It is inevitable. How you deal with yourself and those you hurt after you screw up will define you as a man. Don’t let what others think of you enter into your mind other than as a passing thought. Try very hard to absorb the good things that are said about you or to you and dismiss the bad.
Never forget that while you grew up living in a trailer, many grew up living in boxes, or worse. Be thankful for everything you have and have been given, and give back as much as you can to those who have less.
Hold tight to your true friends. You will know who they are.
Your family loves you. Your family may drive you crazy sometimes, but try to mend fences with them because they really do love you. I know this for a fact.
It is better to be slightly over-dressed for an occasion than under-dressed.
Keep a blanket in your car. Make sure your spare tire is not flat. Keep jumper cables in your car. Know how to change a tire. I can teach you if you want.
If someone needs money and you have some, give it to them. You both have seen me do this with people standing on the side of the road, and you have both asked why. There is the reason. I had it, they needed it, and I truly don’t care what they wanted to do with the money. My father taught me this and I have never lost one second of sleep thinking “sure hope that guy didn’t spend that $5.00 I gave him on booze”.
Help other people whenever you can. Pay for someone behind you in the drive thru if you can.
Never park in a handicapped spot unless you are handicapped.
Say “please” and “thank you”. Common courtesy should be truly common. Do it every day.
Never ever forget that everybody, every single person on this earth, has a story and has been through some shit. Try to remember that when dealing with the jerks, and you will encounter some jerks. You cannot tell by looking at someone what kind of a person they are inside. Be kind to everyone. EVERYONE.
After a break up, and I hope you have breakups because from my breakups I learned the most about who I am, take your part of the mess, look at it, own it, learn from it, then leave it in the past. We all have baggage, but yours doesn’t have to be a big honkin’ steamer trunk. A carry on will do.
Never underestimate the power of laughter, and of making other people laugh.
Travel as much as you possibly can.
Stand up for yourself but don’t be an ass about it. People can disagree with you and that is okay. Listen to them, try to see things from their point of view, and always respect them. If you enjoy debate, then debate, if the other person enjoys it too. If they don’t, and you insist on debating them, you are being a bully. Don’t be a bully.
Don’t let anybody else define you. YOU define you. Know who you are (and you will figure this out probably sometime in your 30′s…or later if you take after your mom) and be proud of it. YOU BOTH ARE AWESOME.
Water parks are not ever as much fun as you think they will be, but if you must go to one, always wear sunscreen and the longest pair of swim shorts you can find. If you go down any slides, you will thank me.
Be comfortable in your skin. If you are thin, own it, if you are heavy, work it, if you don’t like where you are as far as your body or anything else in your life, do something about it, but don’t ever shame anyone because of their body and how they look, and don’t do the same to yourself. Don’t buy into advertisements that tell you that you MUST buy or do something to be better,cooler, faster, hotter. They want your money. That’s it.
Alone time is okay and good for you.
When you are hung over, and you will be hung over at some point, wake up and drink as much water as possible and take a couple Excedrin. If you feel like throwing up, do it. You will feel much better afterwards.
Those nights before you woke up hung over, don’t drive. Take a cab or arrange for someone to be your driver. Take turns with friends.
Play music, or write, or paint, or run, or do Tae Kwon Do or something that shakes your soul every day.
You can learn something from everyone you meet even if that lesson is “don’t sit next to Bob anymore”.
This is your journey. You only get one. Do with your life what you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else, and it makes you happy.
Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. That is them. This is you. And you rock.
Never ask a woman if she is pregnant or when she is due unless she is wearing a shirt with a huge arrow pointing to her belly. Even then, maybe just say “nice shirt”.
I am sure this is not the end, but this is the end for now. I cannot imagine my life without both of you and even though there are times that we seem to not like each other very much, I want you both to know that I am proud of you and I cannot wait to see you grow into men. You will both be EPIC and kind and original and hilarious and I love you both every second of every minute of every hour of every day, forever.
Mom, Mommy, and sometimes Amy (stop calling me Amy by the way)