When I wrote about my mother in my earlier Mother's Day post, I forgot to mention my son--who made me a mother--which has truly been the most meaningful aspect of my life. I gave birth to him when I was 39, and I have felt truly blessed for the last 18 (almost 19) years. Being a mother has not only changed me in every way (all good things), but in the darkest hours of depression, my love for my son has sustained me.
This is the first Mother's Day I'm not spending with my son. He's away at college, and I know he doesn't read my blog so I can write this without embarrassing him.
I love you completely and unconditionally. And I believe that's the greatest gift I can give you. When you were born, my entire world changed. When I looked at you, suddenly I felt a love that was greater than any I had ever known before. It's difficult to describe, but I hope some day you'll have a child (or children) and know what I mean.
I realize it's not easy to be a college student these days. There's so much external pressure (not from us) to fit in with your peers, to figure out what you want to be, to get good grades, and to succeed in a chosen profession.
Yet, somehow and somewhere, things got turned around in academia, and in life. What's important is who you are, not what you do. Fitting in with your peer group matters far less than finding a few good friends who you truly care about and who care about you.
At 18 years old (almost 19), you don't need to worry about what you want to "be." You are who you are, and you need to let your vocation speak to you. While there is tremendous pressure to figure everything out now, it's an artificial expectation. That's not how life works; over time, people evolve. Everyone doesn't "find themselves" at the same age. At this stage in your life, what's most important is to identify and pursue your passions--and hopefully that will ultimately lead you to find your life's work.
Most of all, be true to yourself. When I look back, I feel that perhaps my depressions started at your age because I tried to accommodate other people's morals and values, which were so different from my own. Rather than speaking out when I disagreed with my fellow students and professors, I remained quiet. Rather than fighting for what I believed in, I steered away from confrontation. And years later, rather than writing my books the way I wanted to, I changed them so that my agent could sell them.
In the last few years, I have recognized that my illness was caused by my choices--not by my biochemistry. So, don't worry about it being genetically passed on to you.
What I hope for you is that you will make your own choices, pursue your own dreams, and stop worrying about what others think. Our lives are what we make them. I hope that yours is creative, loving, satisfying, and fulfilling. But know--that whatever you do--your father and I love you completely and unconditionally, and we always will.