Dear Mom and Dad,
I wanted to start by saying that I finally understand how difficult life is. I am in my mid-twenties now and even though I’m not as emotional as I was when I was a teenager, this whole “adulting” thing is incredibly hard. I’m already finding it difficult to balance working, hobbies, my personal life, and general household/adult chores. All of that plus raising a little person? There’s no way I’d stay sane.
Still, this letter is not meant to just be a “thank you”. There are certain things that I want to warn you about. Things that can go wrong if you’re not careful. Hopefully, you are reading this while I’m still young and full of potential, so that you can help fix these things for me in the future.
I am going to break out my thoughts across multiple letters as to not overwhelm you with a single piece of paper. I know that you are doing everything you can to be the best parents you can for me. Please, allow me to help you by providing some “from-the-future” insight.
Some Math (I Know, Your Favorite Subject)
When I was younger, we would spend an hour together every morning as you helped me get up an on my way to school. You would then get home around 5pm and would then get to spend some time together until around 9pm when I went to bed. We also got to spend our Saturdays and Sundays together as a family.
5 Hours * 5 Weekdays = 25 Hours together on weekdays
15 Hours * 2 Weekend Days = 30 Hours together on weekends
25+30 = 55 hours together every week
We did that every week from the time I was born until I was 18 (some weeks more, some weeks less). It might not seem like a lot in the moment, but:
55 hours a week * 52 weeks in a year = 2860 hours a year!
2860 hours a year * 18 years = over 50,000 hours together!
Seems like a lot, right? It was – I couldn’t get away from you guys fast enough when I was a teenager. That being said, I know you’re wondering why I’m going on and on about math. Let me get to the point I’m trying to make:
At this point in my life, I live on my own. I have my own family, my own job, a bunch of responsibilities. I’m lucky if I’m able to come visit for 2-3 hours a month (or 36 hours a year). Let’s assume that you live a long life and pass from this world when I’m in my sixties. That means we have about 40 years left from this point until that day arrives.
36 hours a year * 40 years = 1,440 hours together over the course of the rest of our lives…
That’s crazy, right? 97% of the time we ever get to spend together on this world happens while I’m still under your roof and your rules. Now that I’m an adult, the amount of time left we will spend together is less than a full year of what we spent together while I was a child.
Make the Most of our Time Together
I promise the point of this letter was not to make you morbid or sad. If anything, I’m hoping you are reading this while I’m still young and it gets you excited! That means that there’s still plenty of time left for us to spend together before my adulthood arrives.
When I come to you and say “I’m bored”, that means I want to do something together.
When I come to you and ask “What are you doing” it’s because I have something I want to show you.
Even though we may argue and get on each other’s nerves, I want you to like the things I like. Nothing would’ve made me happier when I was a kid then you taking time out of your busy day to sit down and learn about the things that I found fun and exciting.
We don’t have to always go out and actually do something expensive, either. The times I remember most are not the times you brought me to the beach or the amusement park. Those were cool, but they were rare and special occasions. What I remember most is our everyday family time. I will remember the time you sat down and tried to learn how to play a videogame with me. I will remember the time you tried to beat me at my favorite sport. I will remember how competitive you got when we all sat down and played a board game together.
The thing I will remember most is that you took time to spend with me every day. Not just once in a while on those “rare and special occasions” I was talking about earlier.
Show Me How to Not Give Up
All that being said, I will be the first to admit that I did not make it easy for you to want to spend time with me.
As a child, I was living in a magical world and full of irrational fears. Monsters under my bed, meteors slamming into the house, losing my favorite toy to the goblins. Although they were very real to me at the time, I understand how frustrating it must’ve been to deal with all of those things while juggling the rest of your responsibilities. By the time I finally left that phase, I was already in the dreaded pre-teen and teenager phase.
In teenagers, one of the first parts of the brain to develop to adulthood is the amygdala (the part that controls aggressive and emotional behavior).
One of the last parts to develop in the brain is the frontal cortex (the part that controls logic, reasoning, and thinking before you act)
So from the time I’m 12/13 until my 20s, I’m running around with the emotions/aggressiveness of an adult, but the logic/reasoning of a child. It’s no wonder that I was angry and depressed all the time and never really understood why.
On top of that, all of our arguments and disagreements are going to be what teaches me how to act towards my future spouse and family. When I get yelled at, do I yell back? Do I let things go, or do I hold onto them and hold them over someone’s head? Do I try to verbally hurt the person I’m arguing with, or do I take a deep breath and learn to walk away? Those are all things that only you are going to be able to teach me.
So please, show me the right way to do it. Equip me with the skills to have a happy and healthy family in the future.
Thanks in Advance
The short version of this letter is that I’m not going to make it easy for you. I did not ask to be born, and I will remind you of that at every chance I get. I will test your patience, I will make mistakes. I will do almost everything except what you’re hoping I will do. From the future, I will apologize for all those things I’m going to do in advance.
Once the dust settles, however, that will be it. I will be an adult in the world, and those 50,000 hours will be gone. Then, for the rest of my life, I am going to be battling against the world on my own. Finding someplace to live, someplace to work, a purpose in life. Those are all things I have to figure out for myself.
And the tools I have for the job are going to be handed to be by no one besides you.
So stay strong, and thanks in advance!