Dear Skip and Zoe,
Yes, I know that's not your real names, but let's be honest, the internet is a creepy place and I don't want anyone to know your real names. Go with it.
First, thank you for being spectacular. I mean that. You are both such unique, spirited, brilliant children that I stand in awe of you on a regular basis. I adore you. But I'm still your mother, so I feel inclined on Mother's Day to give you some genuine motherly advice. Try not to laugh.
Always. To everyone. To animals. Even the jerks in life. It will allow you to sleep better at night. Zoe, you have a temper. Keep it in check. Skip, this doesn't mean to let people walk over you. Just be kind. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Please note, that this does not guarantee that kindness will be reciprocated. It probably won't. But please, more than anything else on this list, be kind.
Find something to smile about every day.
Life is an amazing thing. No matter how badly your day is progressing, there is someone who wishes he or she had it as good as you. Maybe it's a pretty flower that you see, a sunny sky, an older couple holdings hands, the person you love- just find one thing. The world is full of bitter, angry people and they cause most of the problems. Don't be one of them. And if you have a hard time thinking of something, know that you are very loved by your parents. And if we are dead, well, enjoy the life insurance proceeds.
Stand up for what's right.
Speak up. Your gut will tell you when. When you look around and see things happening that you don't agree with, do something. Doing nothing is just as bad as going along with it. You will sometimes be disenfrachised for it, but in the end, doing the right thing always works out for the best.
Show up with your A game when others are depending on you.
Whether it's volunteering, school, or work, bring your best. It's okay to slack off from time to time, but when the curtain goes up, give it your best. Always try for the 100% at school, not the 80%. If you don't try, you'll never reach it. In my experience, it's not too hard to get to the top of the class because everyone usually quits.
Read constantly. Read different opinions. Read to escape. Read to learn. Read to think. Please promise me that you will never stop reading. It takes you so many places and brings you so much.
Ask a lot of questions.
Don't ever be embarassed to ask. Neither of you have an issue with this now-- stay like that. Whether it's at school, the doctor's office or a church, if something doesn't make sense, ask. Most people appreciate your interest. Plus, just because someone has a title doesn't mean they know what they are doing- which you can tell from their response. A professor once told me that he only trusted people who were 51% convinced- he knew that had looked at every side. Don't believe things just because.
Participate in life.
Don't be "too cool for school." Don't sit out. This is a one shot kinda existence. Dance at weddings-- not that I have to tell either of you that. Laugh at movies. Cry when you're sad. If you love something, go for it. Skip, your dancing inspires me. Zoe, your passion for everything is truly awesome.
It's not the end of the world. Try for 100%, but don't worry when you don't get there. Chances are you will have many more successes than failures, but I promise, you won't appreciate the success until you've failed once or twice. Anyone can play it safe in life-- don't.
Be your own boss.
I know you both very well. You are my children. You are smart. You are creative. You will never be happy being Employee 34987 and working in a cube. Save up, learn and then venture out on your own and do something you love. You are both already smarter than the majority of adults I know. You will be fine.
Have fun friends.
Don't hang out with whiners, complainers, trouble makers, etc. Hang out with the kids who laugh and enjoy life. Keep them as friends forever.
When you get married, make it forever.
Yes, things happen, but go into it thinking it will last forever. Marriage is a great thing. It's not very popular as I write this, but trust me, wait for the right person, make it work and you will be so grateful. Your dad is the best thing that's ever happened to me. Ask him. He'll agree :)
So that's all I have for you for 2011. Every year, I'll come up with something else. Like adding to your chores.