Dearest No.1, Boy, Jolly & Bear.
I have a confession to make. Yes, me, your super-cool amazing awesome mother.
First up, I’m not sure I should be admitting this in public.
But here goes:
I love an inspirational quote.
And I’m not sorry.
(side note – any readers who follow me on Pinterest may have seen a sneaky little board sitting there quietly among the mugs and enamel kitchenware and housework tips minding its own business – Unashamedly Motivational. Oh how it makes me happy to pootle through it on a rough day.)
Now, in my defence, I really am not a fan of twee little sparkly unicorn and rainbows quotes. Just… no.
Ugh (and I carefully didn’t include the usually obligatory kittens/unicorns/rainbows).
No, those are just bad. So bad.
Vapid, tepid and… just no.
What I actually love are words.
Clever, insightful, true, wise words.
Wise words from great minds.
People who have lived, and experienced, and managed to distil their life and experience into a few hopeful shining droplets of perfectly chosen prose. Small brilliant lights of gloriousness.
Quotes from people like John Donne. Jack Kerouac. The Brontes. Maya Angelou. Goethe. Kipling. Roald Dahl…
And there’s one for every occasion. I share them with your regularly – you just don’t realise I’m (mis)quoting other people and their wonderful words. Whatever the crisis, there’s always something apposite and wise from a greater brain than mine.
But of them all, what would I pick as my top quote to see you through life? The one I would choose to hang on the wall, to sink into your brains, a lesson that above all I want you to have learned well?
In a house full of teens, I admit that the first one that came to mind was Maya Angelou:
Stop rolling your eyes. Sadly, this one is a life lesson we all have to learn the hard way. No amount of me or your Dad telling you this is ever going to convince my crowded house of wonderful young people that you really will get more out of life if you put more in (just getting out of bed would be a start, right?!). But you’re young, you’ll learn this one the same way we did.
This is a biggie. I know, I know, “It’s good to be different” is the family refrain. Stop worrying about what everyone else does, tread your own path. This is such an important thing to understand for most teenagers, surrounded by peer pressure and ‘the system’ and its expectations. And yet, probably because we home educate, it’s not something any of you seem to have a problem with. You’re all quite happy doing your own thing. Weirdos.
And of course there’s the ever-present worry (for you and for us) about what you’re actually going to do for the rest of your lives. I remember being so certain when I was 14. And so very very unsure when I was 18.
You know this. You know we’re always banging on about the fact that we don’t care WHAT you grow up to be or do – just HOW you do it. Find your passion; whatever makes you happy to get up in the morning. Life should never be about dead-end miserable-making jobs. Thats not to say you shouldn’t have a dose of basic hard graft, that’s good for everyone actually. But a means-to-an-end job is very different from a soul-sucking never-ending carousel of daily grind. No one wants that for themselves, and we certainly don’t want that for our four most precious beans.
And I know you understand at a deep and basic level that your choices now do not determine the rest of your days. You’ve seen both of us have career changes, and I think you’re all aware that neither of us are doing now what we trained or planned to do at 20. And while we may not be rolling in the moolah, we count ourselves lucky each and every day in what we are able to do. Starting over is a great thing to do, and you’re never too old to do it. Make a choice at 20 that’s not working for you at 30? Fiii-i-ine. Choose something new. Start again.
(actually, that leads me on to another favourite quote of mine from Goethe –
And that ties neatly with another quote you know I love, because I say it All. The. Time.
In my head it was said by Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness. But I’ve just spent WAY too long googling it, and it’s actually Matt Damon in ‘We Bought A Zoo’.
It’s always this…
Although I think I’ve drummed it into your heads that it’s 7 seconds – which is infinitely more doable, I feel. Sorry Mr Damon.
Anything scary can be begun in 7 seconds. Open that door, start that conversation with that girl, dial the telephone number, hit send, standup and say NO, move to kiss… Taking the first step is the hardest, but being brave for 7 seconds? Anyone can do it for 7 seconds.
But that’s still not ‘it’. The big thing. The lesson I want you to carry through life. They’re all good, all important. But not quite the whole picture. The simple key I want you to hold as you tread the paths ahead of you.
In the end, I just keep coming back to Ralph Waldo Emerson…
This. Above all, for the rest of your amazing, exciting, wonderful lives, this.
Of all the things we’ve learned as we’ve grown this family of ours, these three lessons are us.
Be Silly – not a day goes by in this house without some form of stupidity occurring. Laughter is essential – don’t be with people who don’t make you laugh.
Be Honest. Always. You know this. Nothing is ever helped by a lie.
Be Kind. Above all else. Always always act with kindness. Be kind, and you’ll be amazed how many things are made easier, how many doors are opened to you, and how wonderful people are to you in return.
Be Silly, be Honest, be Kind.
You’re amazing, and you make me very proud.
Love, Me x