Dear 13-Year Old Jodi –
Almost 40 years later, it is so good to talk. I wish we could have done this sooner.
But this will be good for both of us, because in so many ways this 52-year old woman is still that 13-year old girl.
There is so much I wish you could know that we know now to make the road easier. But then again, maybe we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t have those toils and trials and tribulations that young girls must go through to truly appreciate life and being a woman.
But it is okay, because we turn out okay (actually GREAT in spite of ourselves), so try not to be so hard on us!
Don’t worry so much about what everyone else thinks … what is cool…. what is considered beautiful by teenage standards. Be secure in who YOU are…. Self-esteem is beautiful in a girl and in a woman…. There is more to beauty than being “skinny,” than wearing make-up, than having long, blonde straight hair (which we still never have!), than name-brand clothes and shoes and purses…
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, wear make-up, shave your legs, date… Enjoy being a girl, because looking back, it flashes in a blink, and you have a long time to be a woman.
Don’t feel like you have to be anything you aren’t just for a boy to “like” you. You are fine just the way you are, and you will find that people are going to “love” you just for who you are. Just be patient, be confident, and know the best is yet to come.
We were in such a hurry to grow up. I wish I could tell you to slow down. We couldn’t wait to hit that “magical” number of 13. It meant “grown up” to us. We were a teenager! We didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be at times, and 12 wasn’t so bad – eh?
We moved a lot. Things changed as we were growing up. Our parents divorced… Mom remarried… she told us we have a new Dad going forward…. we weren’t going to see first Dad anymore… She told us he was glad to turn us over to a new Dad…
That was hard on us. SOOO hard on us! How do we just do that? But by 13, we were used to it – huh? After all, it had been four years, and our new Dad was good to us. He gave us a good life and he tried to love us like his own. We will always be grateful for him.
But that didn’t make us miss our first Dad any less. And we didn’t see our first Dad for a really long time. We dreamed about bumping into him on the street, and hugging and embracing and having him tell us we were beautiful and he knew us right away and he missed us, and he was sorry. When we got married, we wondered what he would think of us and who we chose. What it would be like to have him walk us down that aisle and dance to “Daddy’s Little Girl.” When we had our first child, we wondered what he would think of being a Grandfather to our son. If he would be proud of the kind of mother we had become. We missed him, but we always put it in the back of our mind and memory, and we were grateful for what we did have and who we did have.
But guess what? He comes back into our life – and he loves us – and he missed us – and he does everything he can to make our dreams of him come true. So be patient, and know that you will have a beautiful reunion, and you will then talk to him almost every day, and you will make up for lost time. With him back in our life also comes another Mom, who has waited patiently for a “daughter” that Dad promised him. We have some more brothers and a beautiful Aunt and Uncle and cousins, who love us too, and have waited for us to come back into their lives. I wish you could know that this would come, and you didn’t have to feel sad and not good enough and not loved enough.
At 13, we don’t even realize it, but we have one of the best friends we will ever have in our life. And she is still one of our best friends to this day! Her family is like our family. They love us like their own – and we love them with a power and passion that cannot be put into words. We will visit often with her, we will go on vacations together, we will tell her our deepest, darkest secrets, and she still loves us even though she knows all of our brokenness. If you could only know now what a blessing we have found in her…. but we move on – for a while.
We make other amazing lifelong friends, and since we have a falling out with our family, which is very difficult, we are so fortunate to have a support network of friends who are like family – who are our chosen family. Who choose us as family. We have a very full, loving “family.”
We will go through a few difficult situations with boys/men that will make us wonder, but we end up meeting an amazing man, and he will be our life partner. He will be our rock, our comfort, our steady through storms, our logic in times of confusion, the father of our sons (yep – we have two amazing boys! You always wanted to be a mom – and your dream will come true!). This man, who we will meet in just three short years and marry in just six, will be our forever life partner. We have been married 33 years now, and we can’t imagine spending it with anyone else.
It won’t be perfect – don’t get me wrong. Fairy tale marriages can be so deceiving. We will learn that love is a verb, not a noun. It is an action. It is giving as much as receiving. It is learning what language our partner needs to hear or feel or receive love in. But our husband understands this so much better than us, and he teaches us, and we are so very fortunate to have him. He has a mom and dad that taught him well and that teach us and love us. We lose them too soon, but we were there for them and they were there for us, and that is all we can ask for.
But we still went through a few crazy dates and experiences before we found him. So PLEASE remember to carry money in your purse for a phone call, so when that boy tries to do what he did on that “date,” you can call for help. (What were we thinking going out without even the dime needed for a pay phone back then? Everyone carries cell phones now, and it is easier to communicate, but back then it was scary, and you were so trusting and innocent.)
Don’t be impressed with “men” who want to make you feel important and loved in inappropriate ways. You don’t need that to be special. They are the ones that are insecure and need to feel important. You are fine just the way you are. Run from them – fast! Don’t look back. Don’t be fooled. Men that are married and have children and show interest in 13-year old girls are the ones with problems – not YOU!
I know all you want to do is grow up and find Prince Charming and be a mom, but you get to work a little first, and that is good for you. You will get time for that wonderful experience and be a stay-at-home mom for quite a while. You will scrimp a bit financially to be able to afford it, but it will be worth it. And once the boys are teenagers, you will go back to work, and you will thoroughly enjoy working, without regrets.
You will get to work for a company that cares for people in their homes when they have surgeries or chronic diseases or face end of life. You will be part of spreading the word about the good things your company can do for people at end of life, and you will work for a company that appreciates and values work-life balance and family priorities, but you will also work hard and love it.
Be patient, young one. Be strong. Be confident. Know we are going to have a good life and turn out just fine.
52-Year Old Jodi
This post was inspired by my dear cousin, Nikole, who shared the idea with me to write a letter on my blog to my younger self.