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green026Let me start off by first saying that being a step-mother is a strange position to be in, especially when said step children do not always live with you. You are in a position of authority merely by your adult-ness, but at the same time, you have no real authority: you can ask the teenager to refrain from doing things, but you have no recourse in terms of punishment – unless you are fortunate enough to be backed by the biological parents – who may or may not be on civil terms.

Having a step-parent in your life is no less strange, I’m sure. My mother had decided that she’d spare me that kind of strange and carried on without a partner – which on several levels I appreciate. One, because she demonstrated that she did not NEED a partner to raise me well, or even to feel accomplished or whole. And secondly, because I was spared the stream of “uncles” or the bizarreness of having a stranger try and tell me what to do, or tell my mother how she should raise me.

So trust me, I know how weird it is for you. Just trust that it’s just as weird for me. Because it’s weird I’ve tried to be more a friend than a parent – which also has it’s perils since I’m only on your “side” in a manner you don’t truly understand. It’s going to feel like a betrayal when you tell me things you don’t want your father to know and I tell him anyway because I feel you’re in danger. That’s only happened once or twice, but both times I was in the right and things turned out better than they might have.

But that’s not why I’m writing this letter.

I’m writing this because I know how hard it is to be a teenager or a young adult- and I know that you think that’s a lie, or that it’s totally different now than it was when I was a teenager. Some of that might be true, but the feelings aren’t. Technically you are an adult, but no one treats you like one and that’s frustrating. But we know you’re not ready for adulthood because we know how unprepared we were in spite of our cocky assurances otherwise. Part of us wants you to stay a kid while you still can, and the rest wishes we could impart some of our hard-earned wisdom so that you won’t have to make the same mistakes we did.

I see you girls thrashing around in the deep waters of adulthood and I have to hold still while you learn to swim rather than jumping in and rescuing you because that is the only way you will learn to do things for yourself. The only way you will learn how strong you really are. Because you are strong. You are intelligent and capable.

There are a few things I wish I could tell you. Or rather there are a few things I’ve told you that I wish you’d take to heart. Perhaps these are things that you will think of later and think “Ah, that’s what she meant.”

1) You are already whole. Do not expect someone else to fill in your spaces. This is  disservice to both of you and will only end in tears or misery.

2) You are only responsible for your actions and reactions – no one else’s.

3) a few good friends are far better than many acquaintances. If you are dependable and kind, you will attract the same kind of people. Just know where your boundaries are and don’t let anyone disrespect them. Those who continually do this, are not your friends.

4 Your beauty is not who you are. It is an expression of, but don’t reduce yourself to your appearance. You are so much more clever, and talented to be that.

5) People are jerks. This doesn’t mean their opinion should matter to you. It’s not really any of your business anyway and if people are jerks, cut them out of your life. You have enough to deal with already.

6) Last but not least: true love is unconditional. Your dad and I will love you no matter what happens. We may not always approve of your choices, but that doesn’t change this one simple fact. Ever.