L’s 21st Birthday

Dear L,

Happy 21st birthday. I hope you’ve had a good time marking the occasion. You deserve to feel loved, cherished, and celebrated, especially on this day.

Your arrival into our family made it complete. I can’t imagine life without you in it. I loved your curly hair, your ticklish spots, your beautiful laugh. I loved chasing you around the kitchen island while you squealed in delight, and how you begged me to do it again. And again, and again. I loved your company in the front seat when we drove into the city, our conversations often taking philosophical turns. I loved watching you climb walls (literally!) and play soccer and ride your bike. I loved calling you from work on the nights I worked late, saying our “goodnight stuff” over the phone, blowing kisses across the distance so you could go to bed feeling connected to your mom. Certainly life wasn’t always happy or easy; no one’s life ever is completely. But you were loved, without a doubt, and I’m grateful that you are my son.

It seemed to me that you were always in a hurry to grow up; to catch up to your older siblings, and now here you are, at a rite of passage that our society agrees marks adulthood in every possible potential. As a parent, I see you differently too. The child is gone, held in memory and cherished forever. The adult stands before me in my mind, and I want to tell you that you’ll be okay. Some days it won’t feel that way, but hang in there; better days come. No one really knows what they’re doing; that’s the secret no one talks about. Just do your best as you understand it in the moment, and strive to be the best version of your self that you can be, always. That core is what will see you thru the hard days, when all is said and done.

I love you, you know. There is no time, no distance, no misunderstanding that will change that.

Be well.

Love always,

Mom

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Christmas 2017

To my children,

On this Christmas day, I am thinking of you with love and hope. May this day find you remembering good times spent with friends, family, and holidays past, and may you create many memories to cherish in the years ahead.

I love you each very much. Be well, and be happy.

Merry Christmas. Wishing you many joys and successes in the new year.

Always,

Mom

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L’s 20th Birthday

Dear Logan,

Happy birthday! I hope your day has been wonderful, filled with things you enjoy and people who love you. Birthdays are a time to be reminded that we are cherished and celebrated; you deserve much of both.

So today you move out of the “teen” label, although I imagine you’ve felt more grown up than teen for a while now. It’s an exciting time of life, with many opportunities as well as challenges. Keep good people around you and continue to ask the best of yourself, without expecting perfection. Enjoy the process of whatever you choose to do; outcomes are wonderful but they don’t provide lasting satisfaction in and of themselves. If you can enjoy the journey while you make your way to this or that destination, you’ll discover you have gained countless memories and invaluable skills.

The card I sent to J’s house should be there by now. I trust that you know I love you – and that while I would like to hear from you someday, I will not push or prod. It will be in your time. I’ll be here, receptive to whatever you need from me.

Be well, L. Remember you are thought of often. I’m glad I got to be your mom. The memories never fail to make me smile.

I love you.

Always,

Mom

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R’s 27th Birthday

My dear R,

Happy birthday! I hope today brings you reminders of all that is good in your life, of how deeply you are loved, and of the promise of a bright future.

I celebrate you as I have the past few years: I’ve given S a card to deliver to you, and I’ve created an album on fb. It’s an important ritual for me. I enjoy celebrating each one of you on your birthdays. Whether we are speaking or not doesn’t change that. I look thru 18 years’ worth of photographs and have a hell of a time choosing the four or five that I’ll include. I smile often and tear up a little. I’m so grateful for the happy memories that arise as I look thru our family albums.

Thank you for all you shared with me. Thank you for teaching me so much, and for inspiring me simply by being who you are. I’m glad I got to be your mom.

Be well and happy, R. You deserve that.

Always,

Mom

 

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Finding Forward

I like Facebook’s “On this day” feature. I find little surprises and reminders when I check it. Today’s, for instance, reminded me that four years ago I was at R’s college graduation ceremony. I didn’t talk to the rest of you; that was the condition I agreed to when the invitation was extended. I remember keeping my distance after the ceremony, yet within view. When T, S, & L were done congratulating R and G, I watched you walk away in the opposite direction. I waited where I was for R to approach; it seemed like what I was supposed to do. I don’t remember that we said anything to each other right away. But I will always remember the way I felt when she hugged me. She was so happy! And I was so proud and happy for her. It was as if everything was right between us in that moment; we were celebrating a very big achievement after a long journey and a lot of work. We were two people who had shared a lot of past experiences and who, for a miraculous moment, were totally present to the abundant joy in this one. No hurts, no expectations, no awkwardness. We met each other beyond all of that somehow. It felt like home.

I do not think for one moment that all the hurt feelings and misunderstandings can be swept away and replaced by instantaneous reconciliation.  But our hug reminded me that certain bonds are never broken. That knowledge can help us find the means to a new way of relating to each other. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s also not impossible if we’re willing. We can find forward.

Always,

Mom

 

 

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Mother’s Day 2017

Dear R, T, S, & L,

It would be hard not to know it’s Mother’s Day today. The reminders are everywhere. I think briefly of my own mother. She’s been gone 13 years now; long enough that I do not hold this day out as mournful. I know I celebrated her well while she was alive, and I’m satisfied with that.

I am satisfied with my own mothering too. The past few years of estrangement between you and me have made me question whether I could think of myself as a good mother. At last I can. And I do.

We can disagree on the quality of my mothering. In fact, I’m sure we would, probably on more than a few aspects. I’ve come to accept that that’s okay, and not the final word on the job I did. I’ve never pretended to be perfect. I always knew there would be ways I wasn’t everything you wanted me to be and instances I made mistakes. Every mother at times feels frustrated, short-tempered, unequipped, and uninspired. I was no exception.  I also recognize that you don’t know everything there is to know on which to base your judgments. You each had your own experiences, and draw your own conclusions from them. This is evident in the fact that two of you talk to me now, and two of you haven’t in years. In that light, it can’t be that I am the only factor determining your level of relationship with me. Each of you play a part as well. You make your choice on how to see me, how to judge me, how to relate to me. I can only influence your perception to a limited degree; the best way is simply to be the best me I can at any given moment. It will be enough for you, or not. I certainly can’t make you see me in any particular way. Or as T put it regularly, I can’t make you love me. But I’ve come to understand that what you think of my mothering isn’t any of my business. What I think of it, is.

So, on this Mother’s Day I celebrate myself. I celebrate the four days (and nights) that I labored to bring my babies into the world. I honor the efforts and the sacrifices I put into raising four children. I own all of the choices I made, even the missteps and mistakes for all that they taught me. I am proud of the learning I took upon myself in order to give my children a foundation of support, love, and respect.

My mothering had nothing to do with you; not personally, anyway. I love you, most definitely. But also, I came to know each one of you, and can honestly say I like and admire each for reasons unique to you. But the way I mothered? That had to do with me. My values. My intentions. My skills and abilities and challenges. My growth. So, yes. I did a good job as a mother, based on what I know about myself and how I’ve responded to life’s push and pull over the years. Whether you think I did a good job as YOUR mother, well…. that’s up to you.

At different times in my life, my mother was amazing, foolish, kind, clueless, distant, and supportive. But she didn’t change. I did, and my assessment of her. Truth is, I’ll never really know what she went thru as my mother. What dreams she gave up, what fears held her back, what guilt she carried. I choose to love her, in all her human mess. I’m learning to give myself the same courtesy. Perhaps someday, you’ll find yourself ready to do the same. Until then….

I love you.

Always,

Mom

 

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Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas.

I hope your day has been warm, enjoyable, and peopled with loving presence.

Be well, and have a happy new year.

I love you.

Mom

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