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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L’s 19th Birthday

Dear L,

Today you turn 19 years old. Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you, I have difficulty imagining what you must be like by now. Taller. With a different voice. A longer stride. The muscles and bearing of a man, not a teenager. Is your hair still blond? Wavy? Long or short? Do you laugh frequently or are you somber; are you charting your course or letting the wind carry you; morning person or night owl; soul of a poet or engine of commerce? I don’t really wonder, because I can’t. The possibilities are too many. When I think of you, there is a phantom space. You’re certainly not the child I remember, but I have nothing to reference in the moment. So, when thoughts of you arise, there is no picture in my head. Instead, I focus on love. My love, of course; it’s all I’m in charge of. It’s all I can bring to days like today: a day to celebrate you and the day you came into our lives. So, happy birthday my dear L. May it be everything you hoped for. I love you.

***

Right now, you are full of forward momentum and memories hold little meaning. That’s as it should be. The future is yours, the horizon wide. Someday, you’ll understand why I hold onto memories like I do. Memories like these…

You were the smallest of the four babies. You laughed in your sleep, starting at three days old. You had the most wonderful curls, until they suddenly went away. You were my shadow for years; you wouldn’t let me leave the house without a hug and a kiss. You scared me one day when I was snowshoeing. You loved to be outside¬† as a toddler and would cry when we had to go in. You enjoyed taking on tasks, and stuck with them longer than I would’ve thought possible for such a young person. You always wanted to catch up to your older siblings, not just in ability but in years it seemed to me, as if you wanted to close the gap somehow. You were shy to begin things that involved other people, but fearless when it was yours alone. You called me when I worked late, and we would say the “good night stuff” over the phone, blowing air kisses across the distance. You had bad dreams but would never tell me what they were, and then you held my hand or touched my arm as I lay next to you so you could fall asleep again. You wanted penguin pajamas, and I found them for you. You laughed uncontrollably when I washed your hair with the sink sprayer because it tickled so. You loved to be tickled, and would ask for it, like a game. You loved to be chased around the kitchen island. You learned to ride a bike just before you were three. You told me once that in the mornings you would walk to the hill behind the house and shout “peace!” Your keyboard compositions gave me goosebumps, and sometimes made me cry.

***

Much love to you on your birthday.

Always,

Mom

 

 

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Springtime

Dear Children,

Today is unseasonably warm, hovering at 90 degrees. Sunny and inviting. A day that makes it easy to feel good about life; content and optimistic. Spring in Minnesota.

There is no special reason to write to you today. Just the same reason that brings me every time. The reason I wait, and hope, and release all expectations. You know what it is.

Dear ones, may you find satisfaction in your chosen life. May you be fulfilled by the way you spend your time. May love and laughter be the hallmark of your presence. May you know your heart deeply and truly, and let it lead you well.

I have seen who you are. I only wish you could see yourself thru my eyes. Oh, how sure I am of you – in all your struggles and your successes, big and small.

Be well, and remember you are loved.

Always,

Mom

 

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