Dear Sixteen Year Old Jessie,

Adulting is the worst. Parenting is hard. It’s not all staying up late with your smokin’ hot boyfriend and eating peanut butter straight from the jar without getting yelled at like you think it will be. Although, good news, he’s your husband now and he brings dipping Oreos into the mix.

There will be kids. I know, I know, but trust me, you change your mind on that. Sometimes, those kids are grouchy and tired and needy without actually knowing what they need. Sometimes, those kids are thoughtful and kind and teach you more than you teach them. You try to do the right thing for them. You work hard to show them how to work hard. You try to do what’s best for everyone, and sometimes you feel like you’re a freaking superstar. Mostly, though, it’s more like treading water, hoping you have enough strength and energy to survive.

You’ll survive. You’ll struggle to remember who you were before you were mom. That thought mostly makes you really happy. Someday, in one of your “do the right thing for everyone” moments, you will give a dog away. You’ll weigh your options and talk to your kids and decide this is what will make everyone happy. Innocent feathered lives will depend on it. Your middle child will talk happily with the adoptive parents. She’ll make friends with them, tell them what the dog likes, and smile and wave as they drive away.

Then, after bedtime that night, after the staying up late eating peanut butter and watching tv, you will go in for one last tuck-in and find her asleep with a note in her hand. You will read the note and bawl your eyes out. You’re the worst. You’re an asshole, but we all are and you’re also just fine. She will be fine, and you will survive to break her heart again tomorrow.

It all works out okay, and if you’re reading this, don’t go to any neighboring towns to roller skate with beer in the car. You’ll have your whole life to make bad decisions with the smokin’ hot boy. Oh, and wear the bikini while you can. You’re smokin’ hot, too.