I wrote this letter for my son in spare moments over the last few days. Yes, I plan on reading it to him...once I figure out how to do so without turning into a blubbering mess of tears.
There are so many ideas and philosophies and truths and opinions and stories I want to share with you that I would run out of breath before I could tell you them all. Mothers have a hard job ahead of us that begins, at the very least, the moment we find out our children are growing inside our bodies. We have to nurture and guide and protect and teach our children to become successful adults. There are no instructions on how exactly to help a child, my child, grow into a happy, healthy adult who is kind, thoughtful, accepting, tolerant, and authentic. For every opinion you find or hear about how to do so, there is another to not only contradict it but also go so far as to say adults are ruining children by parenting any other way. It truly is a process of experimentation filled with hope, fear, and the sinking feeling that nothing you ever do could possibly be the right thing, the thing that makes all the difference.
As we both get older, I have to tell you that a lot of my fears are dwindling. I see you taking in what I say, soaking it in like a sponge. I also hear you repeating it to others. But, it is when I watch you apply my lessons about kindness, about love, about being good and just and fair that make me worry less about you and about whether or not I'm doing right by you as a mother. When I fuss at you for behaviors that are not up to par and explain, sometimes loudly and fervently, why those behaviors need correcting, I can see the disappointment on your face. It's not frustration from having to talk things through, though. There are no eyerolls nor too many sarcastic comebacks (yet at least). I can see your disappointment is with yourself. You, even at 8 years old, want to be the best you that you can be. As long as that motivation stirs your very core, my worries are small because that lesson is the important one, the one that guides all others and pushes you to make better choices. You may falter; we all do, baby. We all do. But, you will always see your bad choices for what they are, own them, and learn from them. That is what it takes in this life to make the most of the short time we have. Other people get stuck in the same circular ruts cycling through the same choices while blaming others over and over again. The less time you spend in those ruts, the more you get to experience, and I want that for you so badly. You should see and do whatever your heart desires.
Along the way, I can't protect you from all the hurt that comes with living. It's inevitable. You know already from all the names and punches that have been thrown your way from other kids at school that people can be cruel. But, that's not your style, is it? Despite all the times you've been called gay at school, you have never once used that word to try to insult someone especially after I explained that it only means a different way people are born and that it changes who they fall in love with. You've never once called someone fat or ugly or stupid. You're already quite an awesome human being, and you make me so proud I feel I might burst. But, I need you to know that people you love can and will hurt you too sometimes. People die. People leave. People make mistakes. And, sometimes cruel children grow into even crueler adults. Don't be afraid, though. It's all a part of being human. Don't avoid life just to avoid pain. I'll always be here for you to talk to, to cry with, or to put on records and let them spin while we forget about everyone else in the world. There is nothing in life more important to me than you. You are the top of the list.
I see so many times on the Internet where mothers write letters and lists of things to say and teach their children. I'm not saying my job as a Mom is over by any means. As you have grown though, I have noticed that a big part of why you take such careful notice of others and how you react to your own mistakes is because that is simply who you are. It's part of your personality to be so cool and kind. In that way, you have made my role as your mom so much easier, and I want you to know I see that. I want you to know that even when you're in trouble I am proud that the mistakes you make are small. There is no measure for how much I love you for who you are...not just because I am your mother but because you are you.