In celebration of graduation, parents were tasked with writing a letter to their seniors. Normally I find this kind of forced sentiment very disingenuous. And as I sat down to write my letter, I was a bit disgruntled at being strong armed into such an endeavor, though I can usually pen such a thing with very little effort. Which was exactly why it bothered me. It wouldn't REALLY express all the ways in which parenting has shaped me as a person, or adequately convey my feelings about my child. I thought it a sham; cheap and meaningless. But I sat down to write it nonetheless, as I could not let my child be the only one without a letter. To my surprise...the words did not flow so easily.
I struggled. I cried. I revised and edited. I cried some more.
When I finally had something down on paper, it didn't seem empty to me at all. I hope my son feels the same way.
Dear (no longer) Pre-Pubescent One,
I’ve probably started this silly thing seven times. I don’t
really know how parents sum up in a couple hundred words, what the journey of
parenthood has been like. For that reason, I’m kind of annoyed by this, though I know it is well intentioned. It almost cheapens what an amazing, horrible, awesome, terrifying,
confusing, joyful experience parenting really is. But I’m going to try, because
I don’t want you to be the only kid without a letter. And I’m sure some kids
will have envelopes stuffed with letters from family, family, friends,
church leaders, coaches. But all you have is us. It’s always been that way for
you and your brother and I’ve always felt sad that you didn’t have lots of
cousins to grow up with, grandparents just around the corner, and close ties to the other adult role models in your life.
But I want you to know that if Grandma was still
here, she would be all over this letter writing thing. She’d have had her
letter written, stamped and in the mail three weeks before the deadline. She’d probably include photos, school
projects and a lock of baby hair too. She might have even included a batch of spicy pretzels just for you.
So, since you only get one letter, I’m going to try to make
it a good one. Words are my thing, and I’ve written a lot of them over the
years about you and your brother. But
somehow, when it comes to writing them directly to you…I’m at a loss. Because again, trying to explain to a kid how
much they mean to their parents, is kind of like trying to explain to a piano
player what it’s like to throw a perfect pitch; there’s just no perspective.
Someday, when you have children of your own, everything will be clear to you.
It’s one of the greatest tragedies of both childhood and parenthood; you have
absolutely no idea how fiercely, deeply, and enduringly you are loved and how
numerous the sacrifices made on your behalf until the time to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry” has
You were my first baby. You made me a mother. I had three
years to spend being only that. Until I die, I will always remember those days
as some of the happiest of my life. I had no responsibilities, no obligations, and
no commitments, other than being your whole world. That’s an amazing gift for a
Mom and one I feel incredibly privileged to have been given. We read, we zoomed
cars, we built block towers and we knocked them down, we sang songs. Housework
didn’t matter. We had no schedule to keep. We spent long lazy days doing
nothing more important than playing “this little piggy”. It was perfect. We had
such fun and you always thought I was pretty cool. I thought you were pretty
cool too. Sometimes I miss that little boy a
lot. But then I realize…he’s standing right in front of me. How can that
be? Sometimes, it really doesn’t seem possible that the handsome young man I
live with now, is the same little boy that I once rocked to sleep. But I’m
trying to look at it as a new chapter beginning rather than an old one ending. I
think life has a lot in store for you and we’re truly excited to see it all
Dad and I are so proud of you. I know we don’t say it
enough…I’m not sure any parent ever does. You are a kind, thoughtful,
intelligent and responsible young man. I hope we have taught you what you need
to know about how to get the best for yourself. Know and believe that you deserve nothing
less. It’s every parent’s worst fear, that they’ve failed their kids in that
respect. Just remember, sometimes, good people do foolish things, stupid
things, even criminal things. It's how we learn and grow. You can't learn to pick yourself up if you never fall down. I did, Dad did, and you will too. It’s OKAY. But never let
the thoughtless mistakes of your youth define who you are or change your opinion of yourself, because
it will never change our opinion of you. We will always believe in you. And
even though we know it’s time for you to stand on your own two feet, we will
always be here to pick you up, dust you off, and kiss your boo-boos, just like
when you were little.
Mom and Dad.