Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Letter to My Future Self

For no good reason at all except a semi-related girls' weekend conversation and a few recent encounters with people in the over-60 age group (ahemThanksgivingweekend), I was inspired to write a letter that I hope will be helpful to my "grown-up" self, say, thirty or so years from now. A little scolding, a little inspiration. Here goes.

Dear Stephanie,

As you enter "the golden years," a few rules and guidelines for making the most of old(er) age, parenting adult children, grandparenthood, time management, traditions, and the like:

1. Do not read this list of rules, scoff, and think, "That's not really true!"

2. Nobody wants to hear about your menopause. Nobody. Certain people might tolerate it, and these include your closest friends who are also going through it. You might think your daughters want to know what's coming, but they don't.

3. You are probably not truly that busy, these days. I hope you have filled your life with lots of meaningful activities. However, please remember that there was a time in your life when you could barely pee without doing seven hundred things first, when you literally had to get a babysitter to attend any type of grown-up event, when you met other people's needs from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. with very little respite. As such, enjoy your meaningful activities, but definitely do not complain to anyone who is raising a young family and/or has a demanding career that you are "so busy."

4. Nobody likes unsolicited advice. This especially includes your grown children. You had your chance to teach them how to use money, believe in God, vote, treat other people, and take responsibility for their choices. If they want your help and opinion (and hopefully, they will), they will ask you for it, and you should be as honest as you like.

5. Remember how poor you were when you were starting out in adult life? Remember that time your in-laws paid for new tires and fixed the windshield on your car? Remember when an uncle slipped you a hundred-dollar bill at your wedding reception (in addition to the lovely gift they had already given) and told you to "do something special on your honeymoon"? Remember how your dad snuck you some cash whenever he thought you might not have enough? I'm hoping your financial situation as you're reading this is much more secure than it was when you were in your 20's and 30's; look around, notice the people who could use a little financial boost, and give it - no strings attached.

6. Please don't start opting out of events and activities just because you have some idea that you're "too old" to do them. This is the worst excuse ever. I'm counting on future you to have lots more time (see #3) and resources (see #5) to be involved in the things you really love. I hope you're still running. I hope you're still practicing yoga. I hope you're still writing, reading, in a book club, cooking, baking, trying to grow a garden, trying new restaurants, traveling, and being there for your friends and family. I hope you have figured out a good way to make your little world a better place, because I know you wanted to do it when you were younger but it was hard to make the time.

7. Don't play favorites with your children or grandchildren. They can see it so easily, and it hurts them. No matter who has the most money, most debt, most kids, or most problems, try to be there for all of them in some meaningful way.

8. Remember the "life list" you wrote on an airplane to Hawaii when you were 32? Dig it out and look it over. See what you've done, what you've failed to do, then tackle a few more things. While you're at it, add some more items to the list. Because (see #6) you're not "too old" yet.


1 comment:

  1. #3 is so spot on....let us never proclaim ourselves CRAZY busy with no small children! O.k., unless we are running the free world or something.

    And I hope to be doing lots of #6 with you, wrinkles, saggy skin and all! ha!