An Unconventional Thank You Note To My Children
November 5, 1995. The day my first child was born. August 16, 2019. The day my youngest child left for college. 8,686 days; 1,240 weeks, 6 days; 285 months, 12 days; 23 years, 9 months, 12 days…… you get the picture.
My three charges, of whom I am no longer in charge. Now young adults, living too far away, but exactly where they are meant to be.
From the day they were born, it was my job to kick them out. To prepare them to leave. To teach them how to live without me. I taught them how to walk, how to talk, how to eat, how to dress, when to sleep. I taught them to ask for what they need (if you don’t ask, the answer’s always no); I taught them not how to think, but how to think for themselves. I taught them how to learn, how to listen, how to feel compassion, how to love. I taught not how to see, but what to look for. Every single day, I taught them how to leave. And leave they did.
So here I am. All this time I’ve been teaching, guiding, leading. And I’m tired. I’m resting now. I’m reflecting. I’m wandering. I’m wondering. How did I do it? How did I do? I can check off a few boxes: they all graduated high school; they all went to college; they are all healthy; they are all safe; they are all loved. So I suppose I did fairly well.
I want to say a few more things to my kids though. I wasn’t quite finished when they left. I have a bit more to share with them. Give me a few more moments, won’t you? Here’s what I want to say. In case you didn’t know this yet.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for giving me a family. This has been the hardest job I will ever have. Every single minute (12,507,840 minutes), has been a challenge. I learned so much more than I taught. I learned that my life as I knew it before you would never be the same. I learned that each of you was born with a unique personality and that I had to get to know you individually. I learned to understand that there is no template for parenting.
I learned the deeper, truest meaning of words like joy; love; sorrow; happiness; fear; laughter; trust; excitement; kindness; hurt; loss; honesty; betrayal; exhaustion; thrilled; proud; glee; partnership; heartache; perception; reality; time.
Time. That which we cannot control. No pause, no rewind, no fast-forward, no stopping. So here we are, all this time gone by. But I have my memories. And you have yours. I wonder: are our collective memories somewhat parallel? Or do they diverge wildly?
I remember the moment that each of you became known to me. One of you took several months. One of you had two misfires before you finally took. And one of you came as a pleasantly quick addition.
I remember the moment each of you emerged and separated from my womb. Moments full of drama, joy, tears, awe.
And I remember the moment each of you walked out the door, to begin the independent life I so carefully prepared you for. The heartache of saying goodbye was more painful than the physical pain of giving birth, but I’m managing.
You were sent to me with a message: Becoming a Mom brings joy and heartache, great memories and memory loss, patience and always hurrying, teaching and learning, knowing and not wanting to know, gales of laughter and oceans of tears, and most of all, the truest form of giving and receiving unconditional love.
Someone once told me that my children aren’t perfect because nobody’s perfect, right? I, however, know perfection when I see it. And I see it every single day in all of you. Thank you Alana, Heath & Gwyneth, for defining perfection for me.