“An Open Letter to My Children” originally appeared on Modern Mommy Madness and was reprinted with permission.
I hope that by the time you read this letter you know how much your father and I love you and how we want nothing more than to give you the world. But one day you will come to understand that if we gave you the world, you wouldn’t appreciate it. You wouldn’t live in it with the same pizzazz and gusto as you will if you have to work for it.
We want you to work hard to earn what you have.
It is hard to watch you struggle to learn things on your own, and sometimes I have to fight the urge to swoop in and do things for you, but I try really hard to stand back. I watch and I wait. Usually you can figure it out on your own.
That’s what life is like as a grown up.
Don’t rush to adulthood. It’s hard here. But also, we don’t want you dragging your feet when you’re old enough to be responsible for your own laundry and bills. My job is to put myself out of a job. Don’t expect me to treat you like you’re 7 when you’re 17.
We want you to follow your dreams, live your life to the fullest, and become who you are meant to be, but following your dreams is really hard. No one talks about that part. There will be times when you have no money. Your pride will take a beating. You’ll wonder why you’re putting yourself through this torture. You will feel like you have nothing new to offer. You’ll want to give up, because everything is terrible.
You might come back home and sit on the couch and stay there for several days. It’s okay. We’re here.
But one day out of nowhere, doors will start opening and they will keep opening if you keep working hard and treating other people with respect, and all of the sudden you’ll realize that you are LIVING the dream you once had.
To push through the hard stuff, you have to be persistent. You have to be fueled by something.
What fuels me is the fear of being forced back into a mauve cubicle. I also fear failure. I’m not sure what will fuel you, but it’s usually a terrible experience. That’s why when bad things happen to you, I’ll encourage you to press on. Better things are coming.
They really are.
I hope that you fall in love with a person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. I hope you find someone who makes you laugh and who inspires you. If you can’t find someone like that, get a dog.
I insisted on having the three of you because I know what it feels like to be the only child. You are each other’s people, and I hope that you all stick together when weird family stuff happens. If you start acting crazy when I am on my deathbed, I will come back and haunt you.
Motherhood is my greatest joy. It is my greatest achievement, producing the three of you. But I am many other things in addition to being your mother. I have to be, to hold onto who I am. Never allow yourself to be absorbed into anyone else, even your own children.
Whatever you are, be that.
And whatever that is, I will always love you.
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