Years ago my mother gave me a bag of letters from my childhood. Most were letters I had written, but there was one she had written. She wrote it when I was a senior in college. It was addressed to my sorority sister who wanted information about my childhood to use in the Senior Send Off party.
The letter was humiliating. She told 2 embarrassing childhood stories, then finished with a short paragraph about my activities in middle school. In her defense, my family went through hell during my teenage years, which shadows every moment of our lives to this day, and was still quite raw at that time.
Nevertheless, I am really pissed off. To come to terms with the anger I felt reading this letter I’m going to write the letter I wish she had written.
ClicheGurl (CG) was a wonderful child. She was energetic, curious, adorable and loving. She made friends easily, and it wasn’t unusual for her to befriend strangers in need; she has an uncanny ability to see the wounds others carry, which she often tries the heal. She was very independent, taking care of homework, chores and self care by herself, which was very different from her siblings. In fact, she was so independent she required, and received, little attention from her dad and I. Unfortunately, this independent nature caused consternation among her siblings, especially when I would say “why can’t you be like CG?”. She was able to shrug off their dirty looks and go about her business, which I really admired.
Her independence and sense of organization enabled her to take care of her daily tasks yet have ample free time to pursue other interests. Her curiosity led her to explore many different activities, including arts & crafts, music, reading, gymnastics, swimming, field hockey, softball and cheer-leading. She excelled at music, playing first chair on her flute, dabbling in guitar and singing solo’s in the school choir. In middle school she also excelled in cheer leading. She participated on the gymnastics team, although it wasn’t her greatest skill. As with everything she did though, she did it wholeheartedly and with tremendous commitment. If she agreed to do something you could rest assured it would be done. She did well academically, although her real love remained people. She continued assessing, understanding, helping, and sometimes being hurt by her peers. She was always popular, which can be a blessing or a curse, often changing daily. She never backed away from her peers though, especially those in need. She was a great friend.
As CG approached her middle teen years the confidence she exuded in her earlier years disappeared, and she struggled. She began experiencing crippling anxiety, which led to self-doubt and tremendous personal pain. These were difficult years for her and our entire family. Often she chose to live elsewhere, and I and the rest of the family missed her terribly when she was gone.
She recovered from that terrible time and, after obtaining her GED, started college. She has excelled academically while there, and has channeled her inherent sense of others into her work in Psychology. She has been working at a local shelter for teens, and she is able to understand the angst of those years better than most. She joined the debate team and she travels most weekends to debate tournaments, which she loves. She also applied for, and got, the job of Resident Assistant. After a successful year, she was promoted to head RA of the freshmen women’s dorm. And of course you know she is the Vice President of her sorority, and a wonderful role model to younger students and her peers.
When I look at CG today I see a confident, vibrant, successful and motivated young woman. While she went through experiences I wish hadn’t happened, they have helped shape the person she has become. She has developed into a strong and brave young woman, who I know will have tremendous sucess going forward. Needless to say, her dad and I are extremely proud of her. We are really excited to see what she’ll do next!
I feel blessed to be her mother.