To my kids, this Mother's Day

Dear kids,
As Mother's Day approaches, I've been thinking about you. I know it's supposed to happen the other way around—you guys thinking about your mom —but that's just how moms are. We can't help it. I want you to know how much I love you. I don't always get it right, but I am trying to be a good mom. Not the best mom, because who knows what the best mom is anyway? I want you to know I think about each of you all day, every day. I'm trying to keep this little family of ours all together and balanced. Your dad is wonderful and walks right alongside me in this parenting gig, and we hope you each know how important you are to us. You're growing up so fast, which I hate and love at the same time.

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As your mom, there are some things that I'd like you to know, and Mother's Day seems a good time to do it. Your dad and I are trying to teach you things that will help you grow and make you into tolerable teenagers and, hopefully, well-rounded adults one day. So I want you to understand these things:

I'm not going to fix every problem you have.
I can never protect you from all the frustrations, hurts, and harm that you will face. But I will try to find a balance between protecting you and allowing you to experience life. While I won't fix your problems, I will help you figure out how to handle them. Because as you do, you grow and mature. You'll learn how to deal with the next thing that comes your way. Each lesson you learn for yourself is an experience unique to you. It's something you'll own, and I want you to have it even though the process will be hard for us both. We'll make the best of it together.

I'm not perfect, and I never will be.
Which means that you aren't perfect either, and I shouldn't expect perfection from you. And that's OK because neither one of us needs to be perfect. As difficult as it may be, I want to show you by example that it's OK to mess up. It's OK to flat-out fail. Mistakes happen, but I want you to know that you can always start over or try again. So I'm learning that it's not my place to manage every aspect of your life. As you get older, I will trust more and more in your own abilities to make good decisions and direct your own path. (Of course, I may need to step in from time to time, but you'll be cool with that, right?)
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Sharing is so important.
I want you to be aware of life outside our house. There's always someone around you who might need a little encouragement or a little help. Sometimes your friends may have something sad or stressful going on at home. Sometimes they might just be having a bad day. I want you to notice these things and be a good friend. Be mindful of others because you have been given a lot. And with that, comes the responsibility to share it. Be generous. Be aware. Always be watching for ways to share instead of only watching out for yourself.

Your body is a big deal.
I look at how fast you guys are growing, and it seems so miraculous to me. Each of you is getting taller, stronger, more handsome, more beautiful. We've talked a lot about our bodies—that your body is yours, and no one else gets to touch it or hurt it. I also want you to know that your body is amazing. It can do so many things. I'm trying to be a good example for you here, too. Try to always make time for a walk outside. Try to eat real food. When your body feels good, you feel good. You have more opportunities to do things. You only have this one body: take care of it. You only have this one life: make the most of it.

I have to set boundaries.
Which means there will be times when you don't get to do something you really want to do. That doesn't mean I don't trust you. It means that I love you—and I don't always trust other people, especially people who might hurt you. I'm not trying to be mean or be the worst parent ever. I'm trying to find a way to let you grow up and not hold on so tight...but also not panic at the fear that something might happen to you when I let go and give you more independence. We'll have to work on this one together.

There's a time to be proud and a time to be humble.
You're going to win at some things, and you're going to lose at some things. When you lose, be proud of your effort. I know it doesn't feel good to lose, but there's no shame in it when you have done your best. There will always be someone better than you, so all we ask is that you do whatever your best is. When you win, be respectful of those around you who helped you win. And be aware that if you won, someone else lost. There's absolutely no place for bragging. EVER. Remember our phrase, "You're better than that." It applies here, too. Be a good example.

Adults deserve your respect.
Meeting and talking to adults is sometimes intimidating, but you can do it. They want to hear you speak for yourself. They want to learn about you through your words, not mine. Address them as Mr. or Mrs.if that is how they introduce themselves. Even though we're more casual with some of our friends, this is important to some adults. When you speak, look an adult in the eyes. This shows respect to that adult, and it shows that you are confident in yourself. Both of those are things I love to see. When you do this in front of your younger siblings or other children, you are setting a wonderful example for them. They learn more from watching you than they would ever learn from me, even if I say it over and over again.

Love is the most important thing.
Look, there's a lot of ugliness in the world. I want to protect you from it, but I can't. Bad things happen. People will say mean words and do mean things. You will see hateful actions everywhere, even if you're not looking for it. But you should always know that you are loved no matter what. No matter what you do or say, we will always love you. (This doesn't mean we will always like you or approve of your actions, but always know that you are loved.) And you should always try to show love to others. It's OK to stop interacting with people who only want spread hate or people who only want to knock others down. But if you're not sure what to do, always try to show love. If you're going to make a mistake, be wrong on the side of showing too much love than the side of hurting someone.

I am so proud of you.
I may not say it all the time, but you are the joy of my life. I would choose you every time if someone gave me the chance again. Even if I'm having a bad day and I (wrongly) take it out on you. Even if you're having a bad day and I don't handle it well. Our family is the best part of my world, which means YOU are the best part of my world. I am so proud that I am your mom.

Happy Mother's Day, kids.























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