To my boys,
As I write this letter, you are 1 and 3 years old. You are often difficult, moody, picky, stubborn, and self-centered. You are also very sweet, and cuddly. Watching you discover this world, staring at your beautiful faces…I could do it forever. Your little voices are second sweetest sound in the world, the first being your laughter and giggles, of course. Kissing and squeezing and watching you guys is what sustains me, it genuinely feels like a need, like air. I’m not exactly sure about how I’ll do when you’re too old for those cuddles and kisses and when you think it’s weird when I stare. And yet…I really look forward to the future with you, too. I’m excited about it.
I just saw a picture of a mom with her boys, marching the streets with signs about ending human trafficking. My throat closed up and I felt like crying at imagining the intense joy it would give me to see you both feel passionately about people or causes outside yourselves. And if I could help instill that passion, that compassion… ALL. The. Better.
One day, I hope you will get to know me. Not just the mom, me. The whole me. And I hope that in knowing me, you’ll see how much I care about you and about other people. How much I try. How much I feel. That I have talents and skills and gifts outside of what I do and who I am as your mom.
I hope you’ll respect me. I will do all I can to earn it. Caleb, you recently said: “You’re just a Mommy, Daddy will fix it.” I want you to see the power women have. I want you to see the beauty and strength in women, in me. The things we can do, the special qualities that are unique to women. The beauty in the complexity. The whole woman, and not just her role as mom or her body parts.
You see, this mom thing. It’s not what I’m best at. At least not while you’re so young and needy. Too often, I do not pause long enough to respond and instead, react. I react to the chaos, the whining, the demands, and the tantrums WAY more often than I’d like. And while I’m willing to admit this weakness, I also promise that I will never stop trying to get better at that: to pause long enough to respond and not just react. (The good news is, you are super awesome at apologizing because you’ve seen me do it so much).
Even though I had fears, I still thought that mothering would come naturally to me. That I’d be so good at it. And in some ways, it does. I’ve always been good with kids, but they’ve also always exhausted me. I suppose I assumed that my own children wouldn’t tire me. I see now what a silly and ridiculous assumption that was.
Being tired makes it hard to respond with my best self all the time. And I’m prideful enough to tell you that when I’m running on all cylinders: I AM SUPER freakin’ WOMAN. Patient, kind, loving, wise, fun…all the things I thought I’d be all the time as a mom. I’m learning how to give myself grace for being that much less than I’d hoped, but I am also going to do something about it.
Here’s what I’m doing:
I’m making room in our lives, in my life, to not be so maxed out all the time. For me, this means I spend a little less time with you. It means I’m going to the doctor about my insomnia, my anxiety. It means I’m finding more ways to be alone with your daddy. More ways to be alone with myself, and with God. It means I’m putting my phone down and not picking it back up for longer periods of time. It means I’m exploring my hobbies again. I’m decorating, cooking, working, reading, exercising more. It means I’m appreciating experiences, moments, and activities with you. I’m appreciating the sacredness of even the everyday things more. It means I’m giving myself the margin to pause and respond with kindness, patience, and love much, much more often.
As guilty as I feel for having a little less time with you, I’m prioritizing quality over quantity.
Because you see, it terrifies me that you won’t remember all the good, loving, life-giving moments between us. That instead, you’ll remember the times I yelled, threw you in time out, spanked you, or asked you to go away. The times I acted like you were a nuisance to me. The times you felt me pull away.
Instead, I want you to remember when I…
Told you about your worth, a lot.
Asked you questions and listened to your answers with interest.
Showed up to your school event, sports event, and all the events I was able to.
Kissed you, hugged you, held your hand.
I want you to remember me swinging you around, making you laugh, the many times we were being silly.
I want you to remember me smiling at you, laughing with you.
I want you to remember me playing that game, building that tower, and putting together that puzzle.
I want you to remember my encouraging you to keep trying, to not give up, saying, “you can do it!”
I want you to remember lying in bed with me singing and praying before bedtime.
I want you to remember me teaching you how to treat people, how to love, how to be kind and polite.
I want you to remember the birthday parties, and how much we wanted you to feel special.
I want you to remember when I wiped away your tears and let you be sad or hurt or scared. And how I reminded you I’ll always be for you.
I want you to remember our family vacations, family dinners, going to church, Christmas time and holidays and all the extended family gatherings.
My sweet boys, I love you so much. I love you much more than I love myself. However, being a good mom to you means remembering that I am not only a Mommy, I am also a wife, a counselor, friend, sister, daughter, a woman, a person.
All people are different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s important not to expect to have the same strengths as everyone else. It’s important to appreciate your uniqueness, and to admit your weakness, and when possible…to do something about it.
I love you to the moon and back, always and forever. I am proud to be your Mommy.