As Lent draws to a close, I suppose you could say that I’ve left the best for last.
I haven’t written a ton of letters for these 40 days, but the exercise itself has taught me to remember that everyone, both the encouraging people and the difficult people, have a purpose for being in my life. And I, likewise, have a purpose for being in theirs. And I will try to make sure that when they reflect on me, that it will be with fondness and gratitude.
Over the last 12 years, years that seem to have vanished as quickly as a vapor, you have become the single biggest influence of my life. While other people in my life come and go, you are a constant presence. Even when you and I are away from each other, part of my heart is with you, as well as my thoughts, my prayers. Everything I do in my life is in some way because of, or for, you. Whether it’s a physical thing like going to work or preparing a meal, or a mental/emotional thing like setting some type of example for you, my thoughts, my actions – they all lead back to you in one way or another. Being your mother is a role that I take incredibly seriously.
In the early years of parenting, a mom will do anything to make her child smile or laugh. It’s a reward for all the sleepless nights and early mornings. As the child gets older, a mom has to balance what will make their child smile with what may be best for that child, which might NOT make them smile. Having to do those things has made me a stronger, more decisive person.
On days when I have wanted to give up on whatever goal I was working toward, I think of you, and I don’t. Because I don’t want YOU to give up. To ever live a defeated life.
You’ve made me brave. My biggest fear, before you came along, was childbirth. I conquered it, and nothing has seemed quite so scary since. You make me brave in other ways too. I don’t fear speaking up and speaking out on things that I know I’m right about, because I want YOU to be brave, and I want you to know that sometimes you stand alone. And that’s okay.
You place great faith in me. When someone looks up to you, and you KNOW they’re looking up to you, it’s very hard to admit that you’ve failed. I’ve had to apologize to you before, and that’s a very humbling thing. In fact, I think of all the circumstances I’ve been through, being a parent has had the most humbling effect. I knew all about how to raise children…………..until you were born. You’ve proven to me over and over and over again, nobody has this parenting thing all figured out. I’m just glad that you’re so resilient.
You’ve showed me how to roll with life’s punches. In 12 years, you’ve been through a lot. Many, many changes. But you’ve remained you. You’ll have your scars from some of your experiences, as we all do, but you’ve let them make you smarter, stronger, and you’re able to look back on many of them and laugh. Those are skills you can’t teach – you either have them, or you don’t.
I don’t really remember life before you were in it. I just know that from the day I first laid eyes on you, I was a different person. There hasn’t been a single decision I’ve made where I’ve not factored you into it. There isn’t a sacrifice too big for me to make for you. There isn’t a detail in your life too small for me to care about. And there isn’t a dream beyond your reach that I won’t do anything and everything I can to help put it within your grasp.
You’re getting to an age where you need me less and less. It’s liberating in one sense, and a little depressing in another. You’re the only child I have – the only one I’ll ever have – and in the back of my mind I think I always thought I’d have another chance to do some of these things again. So, again, you teach me to try and stay in the moment. Because we never know what the future may or may not hold.
You’ve taught me about my parents. When I think about some of the things I’ve put your grandparents through…….and how I’d feel if you did those things……well, I’ve learned how to be a lot more forgiving of them. And you’ve deepened my love for them too, because watching them be grandparents has been nothing short of fun, and beautiful.
You have taught me how to relax. When you were first born, I did everything “by the book” that I thought I was supposed to do or not do. But kids, as they have a way of doing, do not always behave “by the book” and so a mom has to learn to adapt, adjust, and figure out the best way to parent THEIR child. Only in recent years have I really learned how to loosen up a little bit where you were concerned. Not because I don’t WANT to control everything, I do, I always will. But circumstances, parts of your personality, your decisions and attitudes – I cannot control these things. And I’ve learned that however you see ME deal with circumstances, difficult personalities, someone else’s aggravating decisions – this is how YOU will tend to react. It’s both flattering and frightening to know how much you emulate me.
Reagan, to say you’ve changed my life is the biggest understatement I could put into words. Nothing,nothing, has had a greater or more significant impact on who I am, who I’ve become, who I continue to become, than you. And the beautiful thing is, you don’t even realize it. It’s not something that you do consciously. It happens organically, just by you being the wonderful, unique, amazing person that you were created to be.
I’ve been taking stock of my life a lot lately. As I get older, I realize that there are more and more things that I’ll never do, never tick off of my bucket list. But I want you to know something: I really never thought I’d be a mom. Never really thought I wanted to be a mom. But I did. I became your mom. It was something that I never knew I always wanted. And I don’t know how anyone can look at their own child and not believe in a higher power, because who and how you are defies the laws of science sometimes. You will never know, until you are a mom yourself, how much you are a part of me. Someone once said that having children is watching your heart walk around outside your body. I can’t think of a more perfect description of what I see when I look at you. You are the most abundant blessing, the most important lessons, the most blissful joy, and the deepest pride I’ve ever known.