Dear 18-year-old-me…..

“Please slow down”.

How many of us wish we were able to write ourselves a letter from the future? I do.

I’ve been watching my 18-year-old daughter attend her first year at a community college taking on a full load of credit hours along with working 3 jobs. 1 full-time at a day-care teaching 3-year-olds, another part-time job providing lunch and dinner service at an upscale assisted living community, and a third of babysitting once a week. Although VERY independent and raising her that way, I find myself wanting to help her every step of the way but she doesn’t let me.

“Mom, I can do it on my own,” She says with a proud voice. Suddenly bringing me back to the memory of when she was three trying to desperately get that loop to go over the other bunny ear and through the bunny hole to finally master the art of shoe-tieing.

But somewhere, at some age, we suddenly stop taking the time to slow down.

All within one week she becomes so overwhelmed the following occurs…

Day one: She forgets her lunch AND wallet at home not leaving herself enough gas to make the trip back home to pick them up and return to class on her longest day of work and school combined, 8 am to 1130 pm, so no lunch, no dinner.

Day 3: As she’s rushing to get gas she loses the twenty-dollar bill she just borrowed from her sister and had stuck under her leg while driving (because once again, in a hurry) causing her to jump out of her car and lose it in the wind.

Day 5: Locking her keys and her purse (which harbors her spare key because once again, in a hurry to head out the door not taking the time to hang it on the key holder) in her car between rushing from her last class to work, causing her to finally sit down in the parking lot and just sob, pray, and sob some more.

Teens nowadays pile so much on their plate that they don’t realize if they DON’T slow down, all that time they ‘think’ they’re saving ends up being ‘lost time’ they can’t get back because they are now run down and exhausted. Study packets, projects due, papers to be written, books to be read! Get to the library! Get to class! Get to work! Get some rest! REST?? What’s that?

Oh, Dear 18-year-old-me…

We rush and rush and RUSH to become grown-up all the while spending our adult lives around dinner tables and campfires reminiscing of childhood memories and stressing our wishes of going back to those years. Those precious years, the years of playing stickball after school, coming in when the street lights came on, finally being old enough to hang out at the drive-in theater. When Sunday church service was followed with Sunday dinner filled with a table full of food and family, which consisted of Gramma Doris’ german potato salad, Gramma Ginneys’ famous pepper steak, Aunt Marys seven-layer salad that Dad could never get enough of. Oh, and you can’t forget Mom’s stuffing…oh, she makes the BEST stuffing!

Life saddens me now at times…

Now, I look at my daughters’ era of growing up and see so much unfamiliarity to my own. It seems to me that their “childhood” goes from riding a two-wheeler to driving a four-wheel car overnight! The endless sports games and scrimmages, the travel hockey, soccer and softball, dance rehearsals to recitals, etc, etc. What happened to being in enrolled in one sport? ONE. What was so wrong with that? Even birthday parties have taken a 360. Nowadays if it’s at your home it’s “not fun enough” It needs to be a warehouse full of sports equipment and courses, a building with floor-to-wall trampolines or bounce-houses, and the never-ending laser tag games or video stand-offs! Now that’s fun at all, but then we sit back and wonder why almost every other child is diagnosed with ADHD! Umm HELLO??? Look at the electronics these kids are becoming obsessed with! Video games, iPhones, iPads, iPods, iHomes…”I” can’t keep up!! Where have the family traditions gone? Board games, backyard baseball, and football capture the flag, side-walk chalk, and bouncy balls. I don’t want to play words with friends from a screen! I want the nail-biting scrabble game of who will get stuck with the ever-awful-what-do-I-spell with this X tile?” Good ol’ fashioned let’s HAVE FUN! Who do you want to be, Woody or Buzz? But I guess that’s another story.

I am afraid that our future generations won’t know what “slow down” means. The “NOW” generation was here and has rapidly moved at light speed to the “NEXT” generation. What will be beyond that I ask you? How will we teach our grandchildren to enjoy life? To seize not just the day, but the very moment they are living in! To capture the essence of the homemade apple pie! From the white dust of flour only visible in the air if the sunlight shines just right through the kitchen window, to feeling the heaviness of the rolling pin set down in the soft, flour-dusted dough to master its job of creating the perfectly rolled out crust. To the sound of the knife gliding through the crisp, juicy, sweet apple as it slices each piece to its precise thickness for that tender bite once baked. To see the glistening of the coarse sugar sprinkled so cautiously on the top of the crust which was just slowly brushed with shortening for that mouth-watering glaze once baked. To finally, inhaling the aroma of the apples through your nose while it bakes, filling your entire being with a sense of comfort you can almost taste. A sense of home, a sense of “slowing down”.

Ahhh…some things, just don’t give you the option to rush.

I don’t know what to do to slow down the world, but what I do know how to do is to continue to play Play-Doh with my teenage daughters, to play board games until the wee hours of the night, to have endless talks about boys, and make-up and how to dress like a young lady. And then, to wake up knowing there is a beautiful apple pie calling our names for breakfast! YES, I SAID BREAKFAST!! Go all out!!! Go big or go home as I say!!! ENJOY YOUR LIFE!! After all, it is YOUR life!! SLOW DOWN and ENJOY it.

Dear 18-year-old me,

“Please slow down”.

Love, Me.

2 thoughts on “Dear 18-year-old-me…..

  1. Great read. Unfortunately and fortunately my kids did learn how to slow down. It took them to lose their dad to realize that life is way too short and to breathe in those precious moments most take for granted. They play one sport. Just one. And look forward to our family dinners. Small but still family.
    Bittersweet. Yes.
    But they are enjoying this way too short life – although without their father. I am so proud of them and the women they are becoming. 😉


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