Here’s a part of a letter I wrote to my kids, in 2016, when my son was 5 and my daughter was 1, to remind myself, when they are grown and have kids of their own, how exhausting this stage is, and how I want to be there for them.
When that time comes, I want to remember. I want to remember what it’s like right now while you’re young. I want to remember that I parent with all my energy from the moment you wake up, until you fall asleep and we’re all exhausted at the end of the day. When I see you parent a few decades from now, I don’t want to forget how hard it was sometimes to be present for the good AND the hard. How sometimes I just wanted to hole up in another room on the computer, but I didn’t. I took a deep breath, prayed for grace, ate some chocolate and dove back into supporting you. How sometimes, when I needed a break, we got in the car and drove around while you ate a bagel and I drank tea, listening to Raffi. How that was as close to luxurious as it got for a long time. I don’t want to forget that in the evening, exhausted, and with only an hour or two until I had to go to bed, I had to decide if I would tidy the house, clean the bathroom, get some things ready for the next day, fold some laundry, respond to emails, take a shower, watch TV, read a book, or spend time with your dad. Because there was never, ever, ever the option to do all of those things in one day! I want to remember how hard some days were, when you had been awake at night and we were tired, when you were grumpy and mad, when I was grumpy and mad, when things just weren’t going right. And we said, “I love you. I love you when you are mad at me. I love you when I am mad at you. Let’s try it all again tomorrow and hope for an easier day.” And we did.
How, no matter how hard it was, I wanted to get up and do it all again. For you. Because I love you more than words can say. Because I want to give you everything you need to fly on your wings; to be happy, I mean truly, deep down happy; to find your path; to find your place in the world. To take your place. With our support.
Photo by Tanya Hoover.
And I want to remember the incredible days. The moments and the days that made it all worth it. I want to remember how it felt to be the one who could comfort you from a mad moment to a peaceful moment. How, in your play, my son, you said, “The mom always helps the kid to feel better,” and I knew we were on the right track. How I saw you “be with” your friend who was sad by sitting down beside her, silently. How you hit your sister in anger the very next day, which reminded me that you are still so young.
And I want to be there for you, when you’re doing all this for your kids. Because I know you will give just as much of yourself to your kids, just like my parents did for me. I want to honour what you are doing for your children, to support you, to be there. To remember it was hard and joyful and incredible and exhausting.