It’s the New Year, and my resolution comes from my reflection. Thinking back on the last several years, I see patterns I’d like to break and opportunities I’m ready to take. With children, I think regrets can sink deeper. With the Timehop app, deeper still.
When a picture from my first daughter’s first year pops up, when I was in the throes of postpartum depression, I long for a re-do. To relish the tiny baby snuggles and keep a level head with the all-nighters, knowing it truly does pass. I so wish I would have had the capacity to feel the fullness of the love and terror I felt, instead of putting on the shroud of numbness and apathy that comes with depression.
But there is grace. In an effort to forget what is behind, I will push forward clinging to hope and understanding that regret will be part of this journey too. Regret can be just a tiny shadow in a landscape of laughter, messiness, tears, and living.
The line is fine between squeals of laughter and shrieks of impending breakdowns and overall apocalyptic behavior. I find my intentions in parenting get lost in the madness, and some days we’re just trying to keep our voices to a dull roar and our biting remarks in our head. Or perhaps the roaring and biting is all me, and the two and four-year-old are developmentally appropriate.
Either way, in the midst of disciplining marathons, homemaking monotony, and the overall challenge of parenting, I’d like my children to know a few things above anything else. This is my letter to them.
Dear Laila and Adalynn,
I’m not sure if I’ll read this letter to you now or down the road. But I hope that you’ll know these things in the tiny moments and the big ones. I pray that you’ll know the God who made you and who gave you to me and your Daddy. I want you to know these things about our life:
- I delight in you. You make me smile, you make me chuckle. Laila, when you tell me you should be able to watch Kung Fu Panda because your friend who is clearly shorter than you can watch it, I grin. Adalynn, when you say “actually” before or after most clauses, I love it.
You fill my Instagram and star in my best one-liners, because you’re both pretty great. You make life fun.
- You are not a burden. Privileges can be heavy. When you got your new bunk bed, there were a lot of ways you had to grow – you had to keep your room clean, learn how to share a room as sisters, and Adalynn, you had to adjust to the tantalizing freedom of a big girl bed without being disobedient.
It’s a privilege being your mama. God is letting me care for you, teach you, and have fun with you. It can feel heavy sometimes, and not just when you crash your bike a mile from our house and I carry you home. I have to learn how to meet your needs when mine go ignored and fill my ears with Caillou or the Hungry Caterpillar or kid songs when I basically detest them all. I am learning that sacrifices and blessings are two sides of the same coin. Being your mama can be hard, because God’s biggest gifts are, but it’s not a burden.
- You are not my everything. My days and phone storage might seem to be consumed by you. And even though my sour mood might reflect your nap boycott, you do not define who I am or determine my identity. That’s a good thing! You are free to be your own person, learn your own lessons, and make your own mistakes without the threat that I will unravel.
- I am broken; you are broken. Sin is a big part of growing up, whether you’re 4 or 34. I will fail to trust God. I will act terribly. I will think murderous thoughts. I will disappoint you. You’ll do the same things, probably with a permanent marker in your hand. Just as we can always go to God to ask for forgiveness, I hope we can always go to each other. The cycle of sinning, repenting, and being made new will mark our lives, and it will surely be part of our relationship too. I will always love you, no matter what.
- You were made to reflect God. When you create magnificent ice cream cones out of play-doh and break out in revolutionary dance moves to Bruno Mars in the kitchen, you are right where you’re supposed to be. Possibly even father along, because of your parents’ dancing genes. Being a kid should be fun, and you should play over being serious nine out of 10 times.
As you grow, this list will change. But tonight, in this snapshot of time, I want to remember these thoughts. And I hope that you’ll carry some of this through life, braiding it in with the other voices and truths that make up how you see yourselves. I love you to the moon and stars.