When my son was preparing to graduate, he was excited and happy and looking forward to what he imagined life would be like as an adult. While he was dreaming of freedom, I was busy making this list of all the things I worried I’d somehow forgotten to teach him. (I was also leaving tear stains on his baby pictures and trying to convince him that having your Mom homeschool you in college was perfectly normal. But, that’s just me.)
1. Don’t take everything I told you as fact. I was wrong about some stuff.
2. Don’t assume everything I told you was wrong. I was right about some stuff.
3. I lied to you – a lot. Your hand won’t fly off if you stick it out the window of a moving vehicle, there is no tooth fairy, and I’m not at all confident there really are starving children in China who want your green beans.
4. Sometimes, although not often, I wanted to sell you. I wouldn’t have actually done it, but once in a while I did wonder why a frustrated Mother hadn’t started an e-Sell-Your-Kid-bay website.
5. You taught me as much as I taught you. I hope when you’re a Dad you’ll remember to learn from your kids.
6. It really is important to chew with your mouth closed and keep your elbows off the table. Bad manners when eating food is one of the top 10 signs of bad parenting.
7. I should have let you talk back more. I was so focused on raising a respectful child. I worry I didn’t spend enough time teaching you to stand up for your beliefs, ideas and opinions – even to people in positions of authority. I’m sorry about that. See #1.
8. “I’m sorry” isn’t a magic eraser. You do the crime, you do the time.
9. Take a shower – even when you’re tired. Your wife, coworkers, friends and children may not have the nerve to tell you that you smell like a goat sometimes. Remember that even when you can’t smell yourself, everyone else can. You may think you’ll never be “that guy,” but it’s my experience that something happens sometimes to make grown men forget what they knew as teenagers.
10. Along the same lines…wash your hands upon exiting the bathroom and never trust (or shake hands with) anyone who doesn’t.
11. Fight for what’s right. You are going into the world as an adult white male. Sadly, that’ll make it easier to trample on the rights of others. Don’t.
12. How a man treats his mother is a good indication of how he will treat his wife. Stop threatening to put me in a home.
13. Always know that I have a ladder and I’m not afraid to use it. There will be a moment in your life when you are so angry at a woman, you may briefly feel the urge to smack her. I believe I have raised a man who would never do such a thing. But you should know that if ever you succumb to that feeling, I will bring my ladder to where you are, climb up to look you square in the eye, and beat the fresh hell right out of you. Even if I’m eighty.
14. You are smart. I am wise. You’ll be wise someday, too. Let’s discuss the difference when you turn forty.
15. Someone will break your heart. When they do, you are going to feel pain so awful, your Mom can’t even explain it to you now. You’ll believe no one has ever hurt like this before, and never will again. You’ll tell yourself something is wrong with you, and if only you were better, they would want you back. It’s all a lie, Son. Every human has been there, it’s not because you’re flawed, and it does get better. Completely, 100% better.
16. Don’t eat too much junk food. Medications to fix the problems tomorrow that Sonic cheeseburgers create today will make you a man who can’t respond to his wife – and I’m not talking about answering her when she asks you what you want to watch on TV.
17. Be brave. It’s not just for soldiers any more. It doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. It means you are afraid and you do what is necessary anyway.
18. Don’t text and drive and don’t ride with anyone who does. It’s selfish, it’s stupid, it’s arrogant, and it’s hateful.
19. When doing laundry, take it easy on the temp. Cold water is always a safe bet, and if you dry your t-shirts on high heat, you’re going to look like you shirt-jacked a toddler.
20. I’m not through making mistakes with you. I will offer advice when you don’t want it. I will tell you not to speak to me in “that tone.” I will stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong. I will ask you questions that are none of my business. It will be easy for you to be unkind to me in those moments, so I will ask you to please remember that it all comes from love and from a desire to share my hard-earned life experience with you. I promise to try hard to keep these mistakes to a minimum. I would ask that you please try hard to remember I’m still your Mother.
21. Share. Never go to bed with a full stomach when there is anyone around you who is hungry.
22. There is nothing you can do that will separate you from your Momma’s love. I may be angry with you, or disappointed in you, or hurt by your actions. But it is not humanly possible for me to stop loving you.
23. Laughter is as necessary as food. Make sure you get at least 3 servings a day, and laugh ’til you shoot fluid out your nose more often than you think is decent.
24. Crying is healthy, even for men. Some people may disagree. They will be wrong.
25. I’m going to die. While I plan on postponing this event until the last possible moment, it will happen despite my best efforts. When it does, know this … you and your sister were the absolute loves of my life. When I am asked on the other side to provide my resume for entrance, there will be only two entries – her name and yours. Never wonder if I knew how much you loved me. I do. (Even when you aren’t entirely sure you do.)
Related post: 25 Reasons I’m Glad My Kids Are Grown Up