At Fifteen

Posted by at Jan 2, 2013 6:00 am

Yesterday, my baby turned 15. I rarely post pictures of her anywhere on the net, but I’m making an exception…

It’s my favorite picture. I might have posted it before. I know I just posted it on Facebook. Here’s another one…

This was a couple of years ago. More than a couple! She’s older now for sure and I’m so proud of her, I could just burst. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out. She’s very caring and has deep convictions in terms of social justice and basic kindness. She’s shy–except when she’s on stage. Her one soliloquy in the Christmas play nearly brought everyone to tears, including both me and my mother–and trust me, we’re a tough crowd. My daughter is incredibly artistic. Her book smarts scare me. She has more determination and strength than I ever had…once she decides she’s going to do something, nothing stops her.

I’m a proud mama.

But she’s 15 and it’s a rough world out there, one I’ve been fairly successful at protecting her from. I’m not entirely certain that I’ve adequately prepared her for what lies ahead. I try, believe me, but the world changes every day, so I have to hope that her strength of will and her depth of soul will take her through anything.

It makes me wonder, though, as I think back to when I was her age…what would I have liked to know then? What conversation would I have liked my mother to have with me? Trust me when I tell you that no topic is off limits between my daughter and me…not the case with my own mom, even though we’re now incredibly close. But I often wonder if there’s something I’m assuming she knows…something I’m assuming she heard or extrapolated that isn’t getting across.

If I could talk to my 15 year old self now, I would have encouraged me to think more about the future. I was a live in the moment kind of kid. I didn’t think about college when I was in high school. I didn’t think about my career until graduate school. I was very interested in what was happening at the moment, which is not a bad thing, I guess, but it made me a little unprepared when the future descended. I fell into things without really planning for it…except for writing. I had to work hard for that…but I still never said, “I want to be a writer,” until college…even though I’d been writing for years. It never occurred to me that I could make money as a writer. Not even when I was a writing major! (I’d always hoped to parlay my writing degree into a job in advertising…but then the opportunities never arose and frankly, I didn’t look very hard to find them.)

The thing is…I don’t encourage her to plan too far ahead! I want her to live in the now and get as much out of what she’s doing at this instant and let the future unfold as it does. I’m not entirely sure this is good advice…but it feels right. She’s always being asked where she wants to go to college and what she wants to do when she grows up…but she’s 15! Why should she pigeonhole herself now? We know where her talents lie…she’ll tell people she wants to be a film animator because that’s the easiest answer. I think she’d make an excellent film animator. I also think she’d make a fantastic scientist. I’m not entirely sure she won’t decide to pursue theater. She’s so young! If she starts to focus too soon, she could miss out on something better. Right?

This parenting stuff is HARD!!

Seriously though…what advice would YOU give YOUR 15 year old self, if you had the chance?


CARLY here!
My PERFECT FIT Blog Tour begins today at Romancing the Book with an interview and a contest (chance to win one the first three books in the Serendipity series – so you can catch up if you’re new to the town/me!) Click HERE to read the interview, then don’t forget to enter their contest!


26 thoughts on “At Fifteen

  1. 1
    Lyn says:

    I think that my main advice would be ‘Don’t be in a rush to grow up, there’s plenty of time to be an adult when you actually are one’
    Also, you are one proud Mom.

    • 1.1
      Julie Leto says:

      I am. This is advice I’ve always given her and she embraces, lucky for me! When I told her, “No boyfriends/dating your freshman year,” her reply was, “Oh, good! I can be a kid for one more year.” Yea!

  2. 2
    Carly says:

    Happy Birthday ALYSSA!!!!!! Sparkling Cider (that’s alcohol free right?) for you! If not I meant it to be! :cheers:

    • 2.1
      Julie Leto says:

      Yes, it is alcohol free! I bought it for NYEve, but it’s funny b/c she doesn’t drink anything carbonated or sweet. She drinks only water. She took one sip and gave the rest to her bff. I hope this keeps up…I never have to worry about her drinking beer.

  3. 3
    Katie says:

    I love the pics! I concur: don’t grow up fast. Relax and enjoy yourself.

  4. 4
    Paula R. says:

    Good morning Jules, tell your baby girl I said Happy belated birthday!!

    I would tell my 15 year old self to do exactly what you did, Tay in the moment more and experience life. Growing up my sole focus was trying to gt out if my mothers house. I did what I needed to do, stayed focused on school and kept myself busy. As a result, I missed out on a great deal if my teenage years. Life around me was going on, but I wasn’t living it. I regret that.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

    • 4.1
      Julie Leto says:

      Paula, I’m so sorry you have regrets. But it’s never too late to return to your childhood…even if just for a little while! (Hence my frequent trips to Disney!)

      • Julie Leto says:

        Also, I often have regrets, too, about not planning more for the future…but then I realize that I am who I am because of the way I was…and I like me, so it’s all cool.

        • Paula R. says:

          That’s what I’m learning to do, Jules…like me. I am starting to and. See that as a big plus :)

          Peace and love,
          Paula R.

  5. 5
    Donna M says:

    Oh Julie, you are so right! Parenting is tough. I’m so glad I am long past it. My youngest grandchild & only granddaughter is 14. I do not envy my daughter & son-in-law in what lies ahead, they also have my 16, soon to be 17, year old grandson. Both good kids I am happy to say.

    Parents today are very protective, I understand why, the world is a scary place sometimes. Actually too often. I think one of the most difficult things as a parent is letting them make mistakes, then letting them learn the consequences of their actions/decisions. How will they ever learn to make good choices if they are not allowed to see what happens with that process?

    As far as knowing what they want to do at 15, how can you make that decision when you are really still just a child learning to be an adult? I also remember reading somewhere that you are not raising a child but an adult. Or maybe an adult in training! I think it is easy to understand what that person was trying to say.

    My oldest grandson is 23, he is still not sure what he wants to do. He keeps taking classes at the local JC. He is very smart, especially with math & science. Right now he is focused on insects. The biggest problem, from my point of view, is that everything interests him so he keeps changing his focus. Luckily he seems to be doing well. He has a job, just got a promotion last fall but does not want to do that for the rest of his life. I keep saying he will figure it out. :D But then I am a bit biased. :D

    Belated Happy Birthday to your daughter. Enjoy her while she is growing up. Then continue to enjoy her as an adult. I know she will keep you being a proud Mama. :applause: :flowers4you:

    Love the pictures, thanks for sharing.

    • 5.1
      Julie Leto says:

      Thanks so much, Donna. I love her so much, it’s a little scary. I have to remind myself to back off and let her be…luckily, she’s very good at reminding me of when I’m too much. She is, after all, my kid.

      Parenting is tough. But I think if you parent with love first, then it all usually falls together.

  6. 6
    monica t. says:

    I would have told my younger self to pay closer attention to the people around you. I did that but I did not REALIZE things that I should have. Big Difference that. Helps in the understanding for me of that crazy thing called HUMAN NATURE and what you can and not do about it. To thy ownself be true continues to save my sanity. That and my deep love of music and reading. Happy Birthday Julie’s baby girl and many more to come. :bdaypresent: :bdaypresent: :bdaypresent: :dancebanana: :dancebanana: :dancebanana: :dancebanana:

  7. 7
    Ardie says:

    Happy Belated Birthday wishes to your daughter. Along with all of the other advice, the only advice that I can think of is to never be afraid to dream.

  8. 8
    Liza says:

    :happybday2: to your daughter!!!

  9. 9
    Martha mckenna says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUR DAUGHTER! I would tell my 15 year old self to not be so boy focused. Participate in things with your friends, family and class. I lost my Mom at 23, I would love to have had her teach me to sew, do needle-point, and especially cook. My mom never had the sex talk with me or alcohol talk. We just knew to never smoke. She hated cigarettes. I am more involved than my Mom was as a parent and it sounds like you are too. My daughter is 10 and we talk about everything. I wish to protect but also she has to learn from her own mistakes. My main thing now is how to know a true friend. I have always been blessed by having the skill to pick good friends. Good luck! I am not looking forward to the teens.

    • 9.1
      Julie Leto says:

      martha, it’s stressful to be sure, but so far, the teen years aren’t so bad. Of course, I’m only midway! The boy stuff is something I regret too…I was never without a boyfriend in high school or all the drama and what a waste of time all that silliness was. I tell her all about it…so she knows that I was a girl, too, and that I understand. Been there, done that! So far, she’s not even as smidgen as interested in that as I was, so that’s a good sign! I mean, it’s there…but she’s much more together than I ever was!

  10. 10
    Kathleen O says:

    Hope your daughter had a great birthday. I had a neice turn 15 in October and a nephew turns 15 this month.. they are all getting so big..’

  11. 11
    Sue G. says:

    Mine advice to myself would be to keep in touch with your close friends. My best friend from 4 yrs old to 15 yrs (when she moved to the next town) I lost touch with. It would have been nice to stay friends.

    • 11.1
      Julie Leto says:

      Oh, Sue! Same here! EXACTLY THE SAME. My best friend from age 4 until 15…we see each other every so often, but we lost track of each other in high school when her interests and mine went in different directions. I will always regret that. Luckily, my daughter’s best friend lives next door. They’ve been friends since infancy. Her other bff has been going to a different school than her since middle and she just spent two days with us. It takes work on MY part to keep them together, but I know how important it is, so I do!

  12. 12
    sharlene Wegner says:

    I would tell myself it’s not all about boys! But who would listen?

    • 12.1
      Julie Leto says:

      sharlene, I think some girls, maybe more than we think, WANT to be given permission not to be so obsessed with boys. I really do believe that. Our society tells them, “PAIR UP!” in so many different ways that I think giving them the message that boys are great and all, but there are more important/fun things to do is a welcome message. But I agree…I wish someone had given me that message more often when I was younger!

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