I came across this letter the other day as I was rifling through an old chest; one which has belonged to my husband from as long as he can remember, which presently serves as our dining room hutch stand-in and an all-encompassing giant-sized memory box.
The letter is from me to my parents.
It is typed and not handwritten (since I am one of those often poorly looked upon millennials), and it is an apology of sorts.
I'm not sure how old I was when I drafted it, nor what I am apologizing for.
The letter (in its grammatical incorrectness) reads:
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry will you please forgive me and if you don't thats okay but if you do it would make me very very happy, and I am sorry for all the things that I did yesterday and all those other days. I have done a lot of things stupid this past week and I am very sorry. I love you. xoxoxoxoxoxo"
While I have no idea what I was apologizing for and the lack of specificity and directness in the typed apology is no help, I can confidently assume I was pleading guilty and asking for forgiveness to any of the following:
A Sassy attitude Something to do with boys My disaster of a room Lying about dying my hair Lying about rolling my skirt Lying about boys Lying about that sassy attitude
These are just some guesses, though I genuinely have no clue.
Still, the letter made me think --
If I were to write an apology to my parents now, what would it say? What would I apologize for?
Here's how I think it would go:
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness.
When I was younger, I didn't understand that gravity of my choices and how they would affect anyone outside of myself and how they could or would, perhaps, forever define me.
When I was younger, I didn't comprehend the challenge that it must have been to parent a stubborn, curious, gregarious and eclectic but innately introverted self-conscious young girl.
I didn't quite grasp the struggle that must have been trying to raise me with an inherent set of rightful human being values while encouraging me to decipher, establish and have the strength, courage, and faith to live my own.
Now, as a parent myself, I get it; I grasp just how tough your job was (and still is).
For me now, with three children of my own, I realize that nothing is more of a scary but transformation-evoking adventure than trying to grow as a person while trying to grow next to a person while trying to raise a person (or three).
And, at the ripe age of thirty-two, I just wish I understood that sooner and had been a better behaved, life journey co-traveler for you.
Still, it's probably good that I wasn't.
It probably benefited us both that I made mistakes, and I know this because errors -- a parent or a child's -- are uber-important for the growth of both.
When my children make mistakes, even though it's not easy, I try to look beyond their negative behavior or poor choices to decipher what it is I could have done differently to prevent their flub. Sometimes, it's pretty clear where I took a misstep as their lead, and other times, it's pretty clear their gaffe is entirely their own.
So, Mom and Dad, this is an over-arching apology to you for not saying enough -- then and now -- just how grateful I am for you and your willingness (sometimes voluntary and sometimes not so much) to allow me to make mistakes and love me in spite of and through them.
I repeat, THROUGH THEM.
Because of your unconditional support and compassion, I will forever remember to provide the same to your grandchildren, my often-misstepping and apologizing, pint-sized love nuggets.
Thank you for everything.
With an immense amount of love and respect,
And, to my children, I take this opportunity to tell you this --
While I will always welcome your acknowledgments of wrongdoing and respect and value your attempts for amends, I want for you to remember that our errors -- in childhood or adulthood -- usually spark a shift within us. They serve to improve us and prompt our metamorphosis into the person we are on this Earth to become, and therefore never let your contrition weigh you down.