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The Three Things You Would Like Your Adult Children to Know

Started by Cranky Pants, May 14, 2014, 10:10:23 pm

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Cranky Pants

A friend of mine has recently come through her third bout of breast cancer.  She's not out of the woods yet.  The though of losing her has me thinking that if something were to happen to me, my son would for better or worse not have had a chance to talk to me again or for me to say Goodbye to him. 

I am thinking of putting together a video and leaving it with my will.

Now, what to say.

There is a saying in public speaking "Be Good, Be Brief". 

I'm going to try to whittle down my life experience into 3 lessons or pieces of advice for him.  I'll have to give it some thought, but I thought that maybe the wise ladies here might have some suggestions for me.

What 3 "life lessons" or pieces of advice would you leave to your estranged adult children?  This would be in addition to the sentiments that "this is not the way I thought things would work out".



Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Live in the moment.  I spent so much time worrying about the future that I forgot to look around and see what was going on in the present.  They call it the present because it's a gift.

Laugh.  Life is always going to throw obstacles and hurdles at you.  Nothing will ever be perfect but if you can face everything with a sense of humor, it makes it easier to overcome the hard times and appreciate the good times.

Don't be afraid.  Don't be afraid of love.  Don't be afraid of new adventures.  Don't be afraid of challenges.  Don't be afraid to change something.  Don't be afraid of crying.  Don't be afraid of failing.  Don't be afraid to say you're sorry.  Don't be afraid to say you are wrong.  Don't be afraid to say you are right.  Don't be afraid to say No.  Don't be afraid to say Yes.  Don't be afraid to dance in the rain.  If you do all these things, you will not be afraid to live.

P.S.  That's what I would leave my YS.  For my OS, I will leave one with me holding a sign that says, "The Dog got your inheritance."  :)
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Cranky Pants

Thank you Pooh, your message brought me to tears.  Here's my first draft

Message in a Bottle - For My Son

1.  You can learn a lot from "The School of Lead By Bad Example". 

My life didn't go in the direction that I tried to force it to and yours won't either.  Nobody's does. The unexpected and sometimes tragic curveballs land in everyone's life.  Just because other people aren't crying on your shoulder about them doesn't mean they aren't trudging through the muddy ditches of life.  Everyone has problems, awful problems, but some deal with them with grace and quiet resolve.  My unreliable health and an upbringing in an alcoholic household,  (including a mother who was proud of her ability to hold a grudge for 88 years)conspired to turn me into a not nice person.  It didn't take I'm proud to say even though  I was tutored well.  My mother was for the first 20 years of my life my shining hero.  She taught me the rules of someone of "Good Character".  She chose to retain her increasing bitterness and resentments for the last 50 years of her life.  She revelled in the misfortunes and losses of others.  I'm proud that I recognized that I would become a malicious woman as I aged if I listened to her.  I decided to bring joy, laugher and generosity to the people in my life instead of that hateful chuckle that she would spit out when she was happy that someone she despised had lost a job, lost some money, lost their dog.  She despised lots of people "Serves them right" she would mutter.  When did God decide she did the serving?  It was a long and arduous process for me to distance myself from my mother and her "Serves Them Right" philosophy.  I did it, and didn't see her or speak to her for the last 15 years of her life, but continually sent thoughtful gifts for Christmas, her birthday and flowers on Mother's Day.  I never told her what I thought "Served her right" but I do believe the technical term is "Passive Aggressive".  I let her choose her own path and she tried to drag me down it, too.  It's is perhaps the most significant accomplishment of my life that I was able choose my own path of instead of joining those who rejoice in someone else's misery.  I was fortunate to have a social worker who enlightened and helped me more than 20 years ago and handed me the boxes of tissues that I sobbed into for years.   

You didn't get to choose your parents.  No one does.  What you take and what you do with what you learned from each one is entirely up to you.  If one of them used you as a pawn to get back at the other that reflects on them, not you.  Remember that when you point the finger at someone you always have at least 3 fingers pointing back at yourself.  You choose everything in your life, either actively or by default.  Everything is up to you including the father you may choose to be.

2.  Don't Look in the Rearview Mirror.

Don't spend time worrying about what you could have done, should have done, whose feeling you might have hurt etc. etc.  Think about where you are today, and look forward to what you can do now.  You can't change your destiny right away but a change in direction of only a few degrees can make a huge difference.  Take small steps every day to get to where you want to go whether it be happy or miserable. 

3.  Don't do anything at all when you are angry except to exercise, dig ditches or go to a large body of water, salt or not.   

I speak from experience.  The worst one being the day when I lost my temper and yelled unspeakable, unforgivable and unrepeatable words at you.  It ultimately led to our estrangement, but I think it would have happened anyway, it was a hook that was there and there was some "baiting" on your part.  Your wife-to-be was going to be the "Queen" and she didn't want a "Queen Mother".  There was only room for one crown in her "Palace" and she was wearing it.  If there was only one day in my life that I could live over it would be that one.  Sadly, we don't get "Do-overs", but I have learned from that day and used the phrase "I'm busy" when I wanted to tell someone "You're a bozo" or much, much worse.

While there have been many times that I have missed you in past years, especially at Christmas, your Birthday or mine, never once have I ever missed those times when you or your wife-to-be said with that nasty smile, "We aren't coming to visit, we're busy".  After nearly having a heart attack when you told me you didn't want to keep in touch with me I got busier.  After a long and painful mourning process after losing my relationship with you, eventually, I got happier too.  It was my life and it was all up to me after all.

Do not talk, yell, text or email anyone unless you are only using the phrase "I'm busy.  Will call later".  Later might be years.  Busy can take a long time.  The project is yourself.  You don't have to justify anything to anyone, ever.  No-body, no excuses, no exceptions. 

You will be tested, some people will bait you when you are angry, sometimes they will have made you angry and are looking for you to retaliate so they can play the "You are such an awful person card.  Poor me, I put up with so much from you".  This game is known as "Tails I Win, Heads you Lose".  Make no mistake, you will always be the loser to these people.  They will go to the end of the earth to make sure you lose, everything, love, money, and anything else.  The only way to win is to get away from them.  Open the front door and walk to Ushuaia alone without any electronic device if you have to.  Always change/leave a game you cannot win.  Let them play the game with someone else.  It's like going to Vegas and not buying chips.

Take as much time as you need and want to let your emotions come down from a high boiling froth to a slow simmer when angry.  Time and distance are great healers as long as you haven't left a relationship as if you have just walked out of an abattoir with a pair of bloody overalls.

Be a dog.  Watch the drug sniffing canines at the airport looking for drugs.  They sniff every purse and suitcase with the efficiency of 1 million Macbook Pros.  They don't give up until they find what they are looking for.  Set your goals.  Decide what you want and exactly and precisely what it will take to get you there.  Don't let anger, anyone or anything else distract you.  Decide what sacrifices you will make to get there and always understand that the price you will ultimately pay to achieve your goal will be much, much higher than what you think it will be. 

Don't forget that Diana Nyad had to try five times before she swam from Cuba to Key West.  Remember her quote "All of us suffer heartache.  All of us suffer difficulties in our lives.  And if you say to yourself "Find a Way" you'll make it through."

Make sure you do whatever it takes to make you happy for at least one hour every single day.   A walk with the dog, washing the car and star gazing all count.

You aren't perfect, you are human.  Make your motto "Close Enough".  Some will tell you "Close only counts in shaving and horseshoes" but those people are drowning their sorrows at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels every night because "close" is never good enough for them.  I know.  I've met them.  I married one whose father drilled that into him, probably hearing the same refrain from those generations before him him who made the liquor companies rich.  You'll make mistakes, and make the same ones again.  Hopefully you will learn sooner rather than later that you are the only one who can stop making them. 

A GPS gets to recalculate, recalculate.  You do too.  You can recalculate your life's direction every day or every hour.  Spend all of your time with the very few people who make your soul sing and that includes your life partner.  Those who make you laugh from the bottom of your toes, who will always listen to your woes and who will jump with joy at whatever happiness or achievement you bring to the table are the only ones who deserve your presence.

Stay away from the people who don't make you feel good, but don't hurt them in the "leaving them alone" process.  "I'm busy" is fine.  "You're an unmentionable orifice" is not, the three fingers pointing back as yourself show up.

Finally, I hope you will remember the good times and good things that I taught you and that eventually you'll come to understand that any pain, grief or suffering that I was responsible for is because I'm human too.  I did my best.  Sometimes my best was horribly awful, but sometimes  my best was a whole bunch of fun and laughter.

I've saved every scrap of paper and and the drawings that you made for me.  I still have every photograph from the first day in the hospital and the years in between.  It's not surprising that when I cleaned out my safety deposit box the few items in there included was a note from you thanking me for everything when you were about 7 years old I have tucked away in a safe spot.  For so many years, I thought our relationship was one that had shot the rapids of the generations of passive aggressive or aggressive forefathers, especially when you were 16 and your friends razzed you but you insisted on always giving me a hug and a kiss and saying "I Love You" whenever we said "Goodbye".

I did my best with the circumstances, insight, hard work and intelligence that I had and I hope that somehow you'll find something in this note that will give you a hook to hang on to during your life.  It's the gravy that I've cooked up from the drippings, grease and flour that has been thrown my way in the last 60+ years.

Love, Mom

PS. to the Wise Women, It's not brief, but I think it's good.  I never liked to play by the rules anyway!

Cranky Pants

I don't know how to edit a post but the word I wrote was replaced by another.  I'm not part of the Rainbow Nation so thanks for your patience.


Quote from: Cranky Pants on May 15, 2014, 10:23:56 am
I don't know how to edit a post but the word I wrote was replaced with another.  I'm not part of the Rainbow Nation so thanks for your patience.

I fixed it any way.  Neither word is allowed here.  Even if we don't use the "word" but replace it with someone we can figure out, it's not allowed.

I think it's well written and from your heart but I have to ask what the purpose of this is for you?  I don't mean this in a mean way, but is it to give him some peace should something happen to you or was it a way for you to explain why and how things came to be with yourself and him?

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Ok, I wrote that question five different ways and every time it sounds mean.  Really, it's truly not meant to be mean and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to word that correctly.

I think before we can write something to someone and work on it, we have to know what our final goal is.  Is it to leave him feeling better about your relationship?  Is it to try to make him understand your side?  Is it for him or is it for you?

Does that make more sense?
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Cranky Pants

Pooh, the question isn't mean.  I know where you are coming from.

I think I may be seriously ill as in "your symptoms could mean that you might have at most 48 hours".  It's a moving target.  I haven't told my doctor about all of the symptoms that have showed up in the last 5 weeks.  This week I've been feeling particular awful and yesterday, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and I think I know that I could be in the top of the 9th inning of my life or even in the bottom of the 9th.

As a lifelong hypochrondiac (I don't know how to spell that one either!),  I have been quick to jump to conclusions about when a deep gash is a fracture, but having had a stand in the hallway at death's literally about 20 years ago when the doctors were desperate to keep me alive for another 24 hours because the symptoms I had weren't presently what they were treating me for and I was in the "come and say goodbye" stage I also know that my instinct are likely close to the mark if not right on it. 

I am going to see my doctor next week and will tell him about the additional symptoms.  I decided that I would just continue to live my life as I had planned.  Having been the caregiver to one of my friends who died for a year, I know that people who are terminally ill are at the most vulnerable in their lives.  Who they pick and choose to be close to them at the time is a bittersweet privilege.  My friend choose people she had trusted in ice and they hastened her death in an effort to get money from her.  I'm not going that route.  I don't think trying to reconcile with my son at this time would be a good idea if I am ill.  I'm maintaining the status quo until I see fit.  One friend of mine told me a few months ago "You have to call your son, you're his Mom, you always want your Mom".  I told her "I'm not ready yet".  I don't know if I ever will but if I don't get in touch with him it will be to protect myself from further stress and stress never helps any illness.

Putting together a letter and video has always been in the back of my mind but yesterday I decided it was time to put them on the front burner.  If I'm wrong and my health is in the 7nd or 8th inning, it will just be ready. 

I have always known that as a result of that illness that longevity was not in the cards for me, it has been a set of circumstances that motivated to me to do a lot of living while I could.  Not all of the years have been good, I've had times when the illness comes out of remission, but in all honesty, every single day of the last 20 years has been a gift whether or not it was painful or joyful.

My goal is to do what I can now, with the circumstances that I think I have.  The letter is for both of us and I think it's more for me than for him.  I don't know what is happening in his life, it's been years and I've never looked at Facebook and have no contact with anyone who would know what is going on in his universe.

That's all I know for today, thanks for asking, Pooh

Cranky Pants

My friend chose people she had trusted in life (and ice) I'm a Canuck" I'll learn how to edit these posts one of these days!


I have been thinking about leaving my DS a video with the three things I would like hime to know. For me it wouldn't contain anything I hadn't communicated before by thought, word and deed...and would feel like having the last word...but/and that's just me.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Three things that I would want to tell my son........
1) Those who anger you , control you.  When you lose your temper, you lose.  My worst decisions were made in anger, many I still regret.
2) What you focus on expands so don't waste your life focusing on the things that make you unhappy and that you cannot change, focus on the things that bring you joy!
3) Forgiveness is not a gift you give to others, it is a gift you give to yourself.  To live your life carrying a grudge hurts your happiness and the happiness of the ones you love far more than it hurts the object of your hatred.  Learn to love yourself, forgive yourself and others, and seek your happiness from within.

Then I would tell him I loved him and I had done the best I could and I was sorry that he did not know me after I had learned these lessons and that I was proud of him.

Whatever you choose will be right for you and your son CP.  So sorry to hear of your issues.  I wish the very best solution for your troubles both in the health area and in the DS arena.  I hope your instincts are not right this time!!  Good luck!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Quote from: luise.volta on May 15, 2014, 12:06:39 pm
I have been thinking about leaving my DS a video with the three things I would like hime to know. For me it wouldn't contain anything I hadn't communicated before by thought, word and deed...and would feel like having the last word...but/and that's just me.

This is what I was struggling with when I wrote.  I did write my OS a long email after his daughter was born.  It had been over a year since we had spoken at that point.  It basically said everything I had been wanting to say to him about our relationship.  Not blaming, but just how sad I was that it had come to this and that I hoped someday, he would want a relationship again.  Took me a long time to write that email and rewrite it, and rewrite it because I kept finding places where it was obvious that I was trying to "plead" my side.  I didn't want that.  I just wanted him to know he was loved and missed. 

I guess now, I too have nothing left to say.  It was easy for me to answer your title of "The Three Things You Would Like Your Adult Children to Know" when I turned it around and thought about my YS, whom I do have a good relationship with.  It didn't become about me and him, just life lessons I had learned.  At this point in my life, I know that I have given him the opportunity to reform the relationship and he has chosen not to.  The email was an open door for him to walk back in and he never responded.  That email allowed me to finally have some form of closure for myself.  I had tried, I knew I had tried in the past, but this was like a final attempt.  After that, I had no doubt that I had tried and this was his choice. 

I hope you are completely wrong about your symptoms and that you have many more years of life left in you.  If having this video makes you feel better, then I say do it. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Cranky Pants

Thank you everyone for the feedback and for reading my posts. 

It's wonderful to have this wisdom and this group to reach out to.



CP, I'm thinking of you as you go through whatever it is you are dealing with. (((hugs)))

How timely your post is for me! A dear friend of mine had to have emergency, life-saving, totally unexpected surgery a couple of days ago. She's not completely in the clear yet. All I can think of is how silly most of my obsessions are in view of "the big picture." I'm also thinking of writing a letter to DS to clear up some misunderstandings that seem to have affected our relationship. It's not a letter to be read after I'm gone but hopefully a way to make things better now.

This thread has really hit home. I've got a lot of thinking to do.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Cranky Pants

Pen, any woman who have ever been on this board is going to be faced with circumstances dire and dramatic enough to fund a dozen "Notebook" type weepers.

I hope you don't mind if I caution you not to expect your note to your son to clear up misunderstandings.  I don't know that some people will ever reach a hand out to mend a relationship that has gone off the rails.  I suspect that the person who wants it the most will do the reaching out, but this gives the other person a major advantage in knowing that.  It reminds me of the saying in business "Whoever speaks first loses".

I hope in reaching out to your DS that things will improve.  One would assume it can't hurt to try, but it's a good idea to have a Plan B in case Plan A  doesn't pass.

It's always a cold water bath to find someone close to you who has to deal with their (possible, impending) mortality.  We've all come to believe those actuarial tables that show that we are all going to live to 89. 

Best of luck, and thank you for letting me know your thoughts are with me.  While I won't have an answer for a while as to whether or not I'm ill, it has given me a new perspective on arguing with call phone centre people and others where I might be compelled to express my indignation.  I know that that my energy is far too precious to waste it on anger.  Wish I had know this a few decades ago, but I guess this is how you get your wisdom!