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Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Dear Jacob: An Open Letter to My 15 Year Old Son

November 7, 2016

By Adrienne Rich-Giuliano

Dear Jacob,

So many beautiful thoughts come to my mind that make me smile when I think of you.  It makes my heart want to bust open.  From singing “You Are My Sunshine” to you countless times as an infant, to how I say you taught me how to be a mom, to how you seem to be such an old soul, to how you always seem to want to be there for people that seem to need a hand, or an ear, or a friend.  I love you for all those things and more.

Earlier today, when your dad and I were talking to you about grades and school and stuff, you seemed to be particularly uncomfortable hearing the words “we love you.”  I don’t know if it is just an age thing, the topic of conversation, or that maybe you didn’t believe the words.

I want you to know that I do love you, an indescribable amount.  While I want you to learn a lot of things in school….that is what I want you to know and believe most of all.  Moreover, what I feel is even more important for you, is that you like and love and take care of yourself, first and foremost.  It took me a long time to understand what this meant, because I didn’t even really ever hear of this concept until I was older.

I have feelings of guilt that I deal with, from when your father and I were going through some serious money troubles, and we both were working a lot, and we weren’t around much, physically or emotionally, and we left you, your brother and sister with your grandfather as a sitter, because we couldn’t afford a real childcare situation.  And I know you heard us talking about things, and I know you were aware of the troubles and stress we were dealing with…and I know you worried about them, even though you were this tiny baby boy that couldn’t fix things, and didn’t have any control or power to.  I am so sorry for that.

One day, I was walking through the living room….I think you were in 4th grade…you were propped up on the end of the loveseat seeming to be watching TV…but really just staring intently at it…and you were making shapes with your hands (it was a nervous habit you had at the time)…and you looked just so far away, lost almost….and I believe in a way, you were.  I feel that you felt alone, and that we sort of put you aside because we were so busy, that emotionally, you just sort of drifted away….and the saddest part for me was that I knew it all started when I went back to work when you were in 1st grade.  I am so, so, sorry Jacob.  I feel like you felt I left you all alone.  I was hurting and angry because I could not be there with and for you.  Looking back I realize that kept me even more distant from you.  I can never have those years back, but I have always been trying to make up for it.  I feel like it affected your confidence in some way, that maybe you didn’t feel loved, or deserving of certain things in life.  But you DO…you really, really deserve the best of the best of everything.  But most of all you are loved.  YOU ARE LOVED.

I feel that you think I have this very strict idea of discipline, even though we have always been pretty relaxed with that kind of thing.  Maybe because of my parents and how I have described how they would have handled certain situations with me when I was a child.  You know what?  That was wrong.  I don’t want you to think that I am doing you some big favor by not being like my parents.  I know that they made a lot of mistakes, and handled many situations in inappropriate ways.  That’s not your problem.  It’s my job as an adult to just learn from their mistakes and move forward.  So, I am very sorry if I ever made you feel like I could have been disciplining you or handling situations in some other fashion to intimidate you.  I am very, very sorry.

I also feel like you seem to keep a lot of emotions, feelings, and concerns inside.  I am very familiar with this.  I will tell you, that growing up, my parents were pre-occupied with a lot of family drama, and other issues as well, so I never really felt that I could talk to them.  I would like you to know that I want to have a different type of relationship with you; one where you feel you could talk to me about worries, concerns or problems, or if a friend or you are in some sort of trouble.  I hope that you know that I am here to ask for help.  I am not here to judge you and your brother and sister, and make you feel that you are either a success or a failure in any given area.  There are so many shades of grey in this world.  Your dad and I are here to offer options, perspectives and points of view….we are guides of sorts.

Overall, Jacob, we are here to love you, and hopefully teach you how to love and feel loved as well.  There is so much to learn in this world.  There is so much crazy in this world.  There is so much fear in this world.  I just want you to know that there is also beauty and art and music and science and history and being playful and being silly and being present and dancing and jumping for joy and crying and first love and the love of your life and firsts and lasts and everything in between and living a full life.  That is our job….that will always be our job…and I hope it is never done.

I feel as parents and adults, we are so busy being caught up in the craziness of everyday life….work, bills, money, keeping house, laundry (and I stink at all those :-P), yelling for pee on the toilet seat and garbage on the counter and 15 glasses on the coffee table, that we forget or lose sight of how infrequently we express, or even take for granted how utterly cool and amazing and beautiful and generous and sensitive and modest and proud and intelligent and smart and kind and strong and amazing (oh, I said that already ;-D) you are….oh and to give you hugs….real hugs…because I feel lack of touch from another human has a quite a negative impact on one’s soul…but…just a hug a day, can lift a person and make them feel emotions again and feel connected.  I would like to hug more.  You are going to be grown and gone someday…and I’m not going to be able to do that whenever I want.

People….ALL PEOPLE…make mistakes.  It is how you learn…it is how you grow.  No progress can ever be made without mistakes being made…  Your father and I have made, make and will continue to make and learn from mistakes.  It’s just how life works.  YOU will make mistakes…and it will be ok….eventually…whatever the situations are…they may not seem that way at the moment…but IT WILL BE OK.  I wish I had heard that more in my life as well.  I am here to tell you that.  I am here to support you, hold you up, champion you.  It will be ok…because you are loved.  YOU ARE LOVED.

As a family, I want to work really hard on feeling connected and rebuilding that…I have not done the greatest job of expressing that when I yell at you guys for spending too much time on computers and gaming…it is mine and your dad’s job to initiate and maintain it.

Most of all…I will say it again and the entire reason for this long letter…I love you very much…I always have…I always will.

I know you love history and famous intellectuals, so I just want to leave you with this quote from Sigmund Freud that I learned from my friend, Jen Pastiloff:

“How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.”

You are my sunshine….always.


Mom  xo

Adrienne Rich-Giuliano is a wife & mom of 3 children. She works at a local farm. She also foster dogs that are rescued from high kill shelters. She has an interest in yoga, fitness in general, herbal medicine, simple living and is exploring her skills in writing & other creative areas. She is determined to make this world a better place, one small step at a time.

Click pic to book workshop.

Click pic to book workshop.


Join Lidia Yuknavitch and Jen Pastiloff for their signature “Writing & The Body” Retreat in Portland March 17-19 by clicking photo.

Join Lidia Yuknavitch and Jen Pastiloff for their signature “Writing & The Body” Retreat in Portland March 17-19 by clicking photo.

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  • Reply Gina November 7, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Beautiful! I need to write a similar letter to my 12 year old son. Thank you.

  • Reply Barbara Potter November 7, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Beautiful thank you.

  • Reply Lisa Benzaia November 11, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Amazing! We can all see ourselves in your story and take your words to heart. Thank you for putting them down to paper in such an honest way. Jacob is lucky to have you as his mom! xo

  • Reply Roses May 16, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    This is a meaningful article. I love it. I think I also need to write an blog for my son. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Will August 24, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Amazing !!!

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