We continue today in our series of letters to our younger selves. Mom shares from her heart about a pivotal time in her life. Decisions that changed her course. These words are hers – actually all eight handwritten pages of them. Her letter is a bit longer than the rest but how do you shorten your mom’s gift? I have edited them for clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation. She is a wealth of wisdom. Maybe she will write a book one day. Maybe I will help. I certainly have asked her to write her life as she remembers it down for her kids. We need her words.
We have a new giveaway today. I have often spoke of how much mom loves to have her fingernails and toenails painted. For the next two weeks you can enter to win my favorite nail polish – OPI Cajun Shrimp and OPI Red along with some great foot cream. Don’t forget to enter!
I can still see you in my mind’s eye. I still remember those feelings that overcome you as you think, I’m sixteen and can quit school. I hate school. West Monroe High School is too big and these kids have a different and better life than me. I need freedom! I need to change my life. These thoughts consume you and it is these thoughts that propel you into choices that will place you on a life path long before you are mature enough to understand the rules of the road.
When you are older, but still a young woman, Momma will give you a little plaque she picked up on a vacation that says, “For the person who has an answer for everything. Neat, plausible and wrong.” You will treasure this little keepsake. And in many ways, it describes your life over the years.
You are a person of action. I call you a “mover” personality. You believe it is better to do something in life, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought. One of the biggest lessons you are going to learn in life is that there are no short cuts.
Your home life is filled with conflict. Daddy and Momma never get along! He is a good provider and she is a good homemaker and cook but the day in and day out turmoil never seems to change. Daddy with his short fuse and momma and her emotional, victim personality will leave you with anger, confusion and no exposure to a loving, content relationship between and man and wife. This environment lights the fuse to the ticking time bomb within you for relationships with men. You make yourself a promise. No man will ever cause you the pain that Dad caused Mom and you take it.
Why do they fight so often? You try to figure out the problem. As you grow older, you will better understand. They didn’t have any insight into the problem either. Age will help you see that they came from dysfunctional homes too. They, like all of us, were living life with the knowledge they had. This would be a great time to figure out what makes you tick. Get to know yourself. Understanding your feelings will come along the way, but much later. Oh how helpful that knowledge would be right now as you are about to make some very life changing decisions.
When you’re sixteen and have all the answers, what’s the next step? You begin bugging Momma to let you quit school. She doesn’t want you to but you do not stop until she finally gives in on the condition you get a job.
In August you will began working at Woolworth’s lunch counter. You will quickly see that you have never worked as hard as you will at that counter. Work will get harder and you will learn how to get along better and your boss, Mrs. Crew, who you think is a slave driver, in hindsight is really a nice person. Because you can’t see that, you quit. This is where I wish I could stop you and say, “Cookie, go back to school! Apply yourself. Don’t let your parents problems become your own. Enjoy these years. Have fun with your friends.” That part of you that wants to try, enjoy and taste everything as soon as possible must be tempered with patience. Patience is the key to better choices.
I can’t stop you. You will return to school but it will be much later in your life. You are a student of hard knocks right now and when you graduate you will then have the wisdom you thought you had and you will realize that loving and enjoying life are gifts from God. There are consequences to every choice, good and bad. Not every challenge you face will be due to your poor decisions, in life things just happen. How you react to them will certainly make a big difference in the outcome.
Stacy’s Coffee Shop seemed a great choice. It was close to home and you could ride the bus to work. You are young, pretty, innocent and love to cut up and have fun. The mill workers love you and you enjoy all the attention. Cookie, you do not need to be in this atmosphere. Momma is naïve too. She has never worked outside the home. It’s all fun and attention right now but it will lead to heartache and tears. Stop putting yourself in situations that are too mature for you.
You will meet your first husband at Stacy’s. You think of him as a stepping stone into a better life quickly. He is nine years older than you, mature and had been married before. You don’t know the first thing about being a wife.
He will try to control your free spirit and you will feel cheated out of your young life, which you were. Due to circumstances beyond your control, the marriage was annulled and you feel free once again. Yet, freedom is only good if you know how to handle it. You will go on to marry Carmen’s Dad . You may find this hard to believe, but you will have four children – two boys and two girls.
Through every season, you will be proud of some of your choices and others you will need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the game. I love you dearly. Your strength in handling a crisis will help you survive some big ones. Oh for you to have the wisdom then that I have now. I could save you some pain. A lot of prayer and looking for God’s direction will be the keys to work your way through. Take life serious when it comes to your happiness, but love and enjoy every minute.
You will have some regrets but you will live a very fulfilled life. You will have love, homes, children, health, fun, friends and a lot of good memories that cancel out some of the bad ones.
As your older self, I know that all these season and times in life will make you who you are. At seventy-three, you will still love life, have lots of fun, be healthy and will still be making memories. Most of all you will still have God! He blesses, even through mistakes. I owe it all to Him.
The Older Cookie
Other Post in the Dear Me Series…