My 13 year- old -daughter and I were having a conversation the other day where she proceeded to eye roll me. That eye roll spoke volumes: “You know nothing, Mom!”
It sparked in me a memory I had with my own mom. I thought I knew everything at that age-and every year after till my 30’s. I wanted to write my younger self a letter, in hopes my daughter will accidentally happen to stumble upon it, read it, and thank me when she’s my age. So here goes:
Dear Know It All Ang,
You my friend are amazing! But before I get too complimentary, let’s go over some important issues first.
You will have your heart broken, maybe once, twice, or even a large handful of times. Those boys that are responsible for the tears and heartache? They will move on in their lives to continue breaking other girls’ hearts; they were no good for you anyway.
Brush your teeth at least two times a day. Oh, and floss once a day too! There’s no amount of money and dental artistry that can replace your own genuine smile.
That sun shining ever so brightly on those summer days? Yeah, slather your body in stuff called sunscreen. And stay out of those large machines called tanning beds; they wreak havoc on your skin. Plus, melanoma doesn’t match your eye color.
That large term paper due in three weeks? Get started on it now. If you don’t want to finish the entire paper in one evening, do a little bit each night. That all-nighter you’re faced with will only take away from your beauty sleep, plus the stress is horrible on your young adrenal glands.
Give up some of your time. I realize your time is more valuable than gold, but giving to others will really make you see how blessed your own life really is. That homeless man will thank you abundantly when you hand him a bar of soap and his only meal of the day. Be someone’s smile.
The mean girl who keeps gossiping about you? You see, her life is empty, full of heartache and turmoil, and maybe she has some serious issues at home. Continue to do the right thing and, hey, throw a compliment and smile her way…she just might need it.
Exercise young lady! And not only to keep your girlish figure either. You’ll thank me when you’re 65 and your bone density test comes back with flying colors - oh, and you’re able to play with your grandkids too.
Wash your hands. I know it seems like a chore, but the amount of colds and flu viruses you’ll save yourself from over the years... it’s really worth the twenty seconds it takes, trust me.
Interested in that cigarette? Please don’t. Not only will your lungs suffer, but so will your beautiful skin, teeth, and hair. Not to mention your pocketbook. And what boy will even want to look your way puffing on that cancer stick? Plus you’ll stink. Just don’t even go there.
That alcoholic drink and or drugs your “friends” are pushing you to try? Please, honey, if you’re curious, go talk to Mom or Dad. I know without a doubt they’ll be so proud of you for coming to them first. If you choose to bypass Mom and Dad, beware. The movies glorify alcohol and drugs way more than it should be. That stuff is awful, illegal, and can lead to some major disappointments further in your life.
Your allowance money you’re dying to spend on candy, toys, and useless stuff? Save it. Learn to be a saver and the rest of your life will be so much easier…trust me on this one. Ask Mom and Dad about Dave Ramsey; he’ll be the fourth most important man in your life, next to God, your dad, and your future husband.
You think remaining a virgin till marriage will make you less appealing to your future mate? Well, let me tell you, the exact opposite is true. Keeping yourself pure for your future husband is the most appealing attribute a woman can have.
Put your academics first - above friends, sports, and social engagements. There’s nothing worse than not getting your diploma or passing up on college. Trust me on this one, keep your nose in those books. You’ll thank me later when you have an amazing career only a good education is responsible for.
Give your mom and dad a hug now and then. Don’t forget to tell them you love them occasionally as well. I know it may seem like they’ll be on this great Earth forever, but they won’t. And you’ll miss them…really miss them, I promise.
Tattoos. Let’s talk about those little things. Please darling, don’t. I realize you think the Tasmanian Devil on your ankle is really cool right now, but when you’re 30 and all dressed up at your wedding, that faded Devil will be adorning your ankle staring up at you…for the rest of your dang life! Plus the Taz doesn’t go well with elegant attire, your beautiful bare skin does.
Getting married. Hmmm, I know a thing or two about this one so listen up! I understand you’re 19 and have found the man of your dreams. But have you finished college? Have you done some traveling? Have you been selfish and done for you? You haven’t? Then pass on that ring…till you’re finished getting to know who you are and are a complete and whole human being. Oh, this applies to having kids too.
You will change and evolve, more than once or twice between the ages of 18 and 40…and beyond. Allow yourself some grace during those years. You may decide a relationship with God isn’t your cup of tea at 18, but when you’re 28 and in need of a leader, I hope you will give Him a second chance. Or you may think being a follower is what’s up your alley at 21, but know you may decide to step into the driver’s seat when you’re 35; that seat might be where you were always meant to be.
I love you young lady. Please know I support you and will be here to guide you throughout this life of yours. Mistakes will be made, oh dear Lord plenty of them. But know this life is also supposed to be filled with great pleasures, wonderful accomplishments, and days spent with joy. You’ve got this! Now go wash your hands and brush your teeth.
Your older self
*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*