Dear Katie, Anna and Bobby,
As you know, I’m not a fan of Mother’s Day. I want you to tell me you love me only if you really love me, not because some greeting card company says to. I want a hug from you (even you, Anna) only if you want to hug me. I don’t like the expectations that come with a holiday like this one—moms are supposed to get a day off, so I end up resenting anything I have to do. You end up feeling like you have to do certain things that you don’t necessarily want to do, and in my mind, the whole thing falls apart then. Besides, I don’t care for breakfast in bed. (Because crumbs.) I want you to know, though, that all you’ve done in past years matters because it shows that you want to make the day special for me, and I appreciate that. But I like the impromptu gestures more, so I hereby release you of all expectations for this and all future Mother’s Days. (Christmas, though, is still a great time to get me gifts. Oh, and birthdays. You’re only released from this one particular holiday.)
But you already know the biggest reason I’m not a fan of this day. Because it reminds me that Gran isn’t here anymore, and that breaks my heart. I know you miss her, too. But if I have learned anything from losing her, it’s this: You need to know how very much you matter, how very much you are worth, even if someday I am not here to tell you in person. She did that for me. She knew me and understood me like no one else. And I want to do the same thing for you.
So, without further ado, and because there’s no word limit in the blogosphere, here are some random things you need to know.
You are amazing. Each and every one of you. You’re all my favorite, but in different ways.
Katie, everyone says you’re my mini-me. And you are. But I have to remind myself over and over (and over and over) that you’re not me. You won’t do the same things I did, and if you do, you’ll handle them differently. That’s OK. It’s better than OK: it’s exactly how it should be. I want you to be you—because you are something special. I know you’re still finding your way, figuring out how to navigate your migraines and school and life, and it’s not easy. But I will always be here, believing you’re able to figure this out (and hoping I can help). Believing that you will triumph— because you will. Because you are smart and beautiful and able. And loved. So very loved.
Anna, we all talk about the way your father is wrapped around your little finger. That is absolutely true. But here’s what you need to know: I adore you, too. In some ways, you and I are very different, as are your dad and I. I don’t always understand the thought process you and he will follow. But I always love you. And I really, really like you, too. You’re funny and vivacious and generous and enthusiastic and kind. You have so much fun doing creative, thoughtful things for people (me included). You make me laugh, and I love the things that delight you (even when they happen to be furry felines that make me sneeze). You’re amazing. And you always make me proud. Always.
Bobby, although you are a stinky boy, I adore you. Your sweaty socks make me grimace, but I love that you will sit on the couch with your feet propped in my lap. (Don’t worry, your friends don’t read my blog so you don’t have to be embarrassed.) I love your sarcasm and sense of humor. I love setting up the perfect opportunity for you to make a funny comment. I love listening to you sing and play music—there’s nothing I’d rather have playing in the background. It never gets old. (Except to your sisters.) I want you to always have confidence in yourself—but reach outside yourself and think about other people, too. You have always kind of been the focus, around here—the first boy, the last child. But as you go out into the world, you won’t always be the center of everything you do, and I think that may be a hard lesson. But you have to know, it won’t mean you’re not amazing. Because you really are. I’ve seen glimpses of who you are becoming, and I can’t wait to see the man you grow into.
To all of you, I am sorry for all the things I forget. I know there are so many, but ironically enough, I can’t remember what they are. Please don’t think it means I don’t listen. I do. My brain just malfunctions on a regular basis. It’s tired. It’s overloaded. It needs an update. Maybe I have a virus or faulty hardware. But I do care.
Thank you for talking to me about the things that matter to you. Even when I can’t fix it, I love that you want me to. Even when you don’t follow my advice, I love that you asked.
I may like—and even love—the person you are dating. But no one will ever be good enough for you. I’ll point out all kinds of things I want you to consider, but in the end, I trust you to make a smart choice. Whoever you marry—if you marry—there will be struggles and issues. Money, insecurities, different opinions, worries about your children. All I want—all I hope and pray for—is that you will find someone who is good for you. Someone who pushes you to be the best you possible, yet loves you long before you fully become yourself. Someone who believes marriage is about for better and for worse, and holds your hand tight, whatever you’re facing. Because if you can face it together, you can come through it.
I love the gifts you give me. My favorites are the ones that you buy spontaneously. Not because of the money you spend (usually money I gave you to start with), but because they show that you know me. I love to get just the right thing for someone. And I love you for knowing what I will love.
I love your quirky senses of humor and the things that make you laugh. I love to just be with you because you’re all fun and interesting and affectionate (well, one of you isn’t a big hugger). But most of all? I love the way that you all want God to be in your lives.
I love that you love the people at our church, that you’ve found a place where you belong, that you’re enveloped by hugs every time you walk in the doors, and that when you’ve been away you run to see the people you’ve missed. As much as I love that you love our church, though, as you become adults, I want you to find your own way, find your own place, one that fits you and nourishes you and pushes you to always go deeper in your relationship with the Lord. I want you to ask the hard questions and wrestle with your understanding. I want you to search because when you do, you will find God. And it will be better, and deeper, and more sustaining than you ever imagined it could be. I love that in your hard times you lean on God and you’re drawn back to the church. I don’t want or expect you to find the same faith I have. I want you to find your own. I want you to come to understand, each of you, that God loves you as individuals. That He will go to great lengths for you. That we’re all part of one bigger church, and there’s something to be learned anywhere you go.
I want you to walk through your lives with your heads held high, with the confidence that you are adored, absolutely and completely, that you have a place in this world and that you will find it and grow into the fullness God has waiting for you.
I want you to know that I may complain, and I may be busy, but that I will do anything I can for you. And that sometimes, that means I won’t be able to help. Because sometimes it’s time for you to figure it out yourself.
And sometimes it’s time to let God show you something new.
I want you to know that I may claim not to be much of a kid person, but that you have made my life so much better, so much fuller, than I ever imagined it could be.
I want you to know I’m sorry for all of my failings. But my lack—in ability and focus and wisdom and tact—has nothing to do with the amount of love I have for you.
And I want you to know, more than anything else, that I am here for you. That even when I’m no longer breathing, my love is knit within you. It’s foundational to who you are, and even when I’m gone, that will remain. You will always have me loving you, whether you like it or not. Whether you’re easy to love at that moment, or not. Whether you’re sitting on the other end of the couch or traveling on the other side of the world. You don’t have to earn it. It’s simply a given. I can’t help myself. You’re such a part of me. And I love you.