Ahh, do you remember those special birthdays when you were a kid? Some birthdays just burn into your memory. I remember thirteen because I thought finally, I was a teenager. Twelve was such a boring number. Like being on the verge of something wonderful that you could almost glimpse up ahead. Thirteen opened doors. Meant you were on the way. I don’t remember what I thought I was on the way to, but I knew it had to be better than twelve. Then another milestone birthday was on the horizon. Sixteen. If thirteen was good, sixteen was better than good. Sixteen was almost grown. A person could get her driver’s license when she was sixteen. A person could speed toward the future at sixteen. I had no idea on my sixteenth birthday how soon I was going to hit that adult stride. Married much too young at seventeen. A mother of two by nineteen. Three short years after that sixteen.
But sixteen was magic. An enticing age. Even the sound of the word evokes a feeling of fun. If only I hadn’t been in such a hurry to grow up. If only I had embraced those years and appreciated the sweetness of living on the farm, exploring the world of nature, reading every book I could get my hands on. If only I had wanted to be a child a little longer.
Not that I have regrets about my life. I don’t. I enjoyed being a young mother. It’s been good to have so many years with my husband. But it’s easy to look back and wonder a little about those teen years. What would I tell that girl as she turned sixteen? I could let her know how swiftly the years would spin past, but I doubt she would believe me. I could warn her that life can sometimes slam a person with hard times, but why would I want to do that? It would just take the joy from the days. I could tell her to keep trying when writing those stories seemed hard, but that would be a lesson best learned as she was writing. She would need to find the perseverance on her own. It couldn’t be gifted to her. I could tell her to treasure those moments with her babies in the years ahead, but she would be too young to even imagine how being a mother would be such a blessing. So many things she would have to learn on her own.
I started thinking birthdays, a sixteenth birthday in particular, because I have a grandson turning sixteen tomorrow. And what would I tell him were he willing to listen? I think I would keep in simple. “I love you. I’m proud of you. Life awaits.”
What would you tell your sixteen year old self if you could whisper a message back through time?