Motherhood is the most difficult job in the world.
The reason is that we are preparing the next generation to take over for us, the leaders of tomorrow…and they need to be fully up to the task. There are so many things to ensure that they know, embody, and can execute.
When my daughter was turning 18, I had a lot of feelings very mixed feelings about her leaving home and going out into the world. One day, in the middle of a lot of feelings, I sat down with a pad and pen and decided to write all of my thoughts and feelings. As I wrote, I felt deep feelings, and the droplets from my eyes fell onto the pad showing me the depth of my feelings.
Below is what I wrote… which is in Chapter 9 of The Gift of Motherhood, There is no Such Thing as a Perfect Mother.
As we approach your graduation and your eighteenth birthday, I find myself filled with mixed emotions.
I am happy for you to have achieved this age of adulthood, yet I’m afraid that I haven’t done enough – and time is running out.
I am sad you are leaving to go out into the world, yet I know you are ready and it is time. I am eager for you to see the world, to learn and grow, but I am fearful of some of the people you may encounter.
I am excited about the wonderful life you have in from of you yet I’m concerned about how easily you are influenced by others.
I am proud of you going to American University yet I’m anxious about your ability to manage your time, priorities and projects.
I know that you are beautiful, bright, assertive, strong, articulate and infinitely capable of achieving anything you set your mind to, yet I wonder if you will utilize your gifts and learn from every experience that happens.
I know you are a terrific person, and deep down I fear I haven’t been everything I should have – that I haven’t been the best Mom.
I feel awkward and I don’t know what to say, how to act, what to do; and in my discomfort, I try to either isolate or control you during these last few days. It’s hard – oh so hard. This is the toughest rite of passage so far. The tears you saw in my eyes the other day were not for you – they were for me. It’s the end of childhood for my baby. Ever since your Dad left us, I have felt such deep insecurity as a mother and single parent. I tried to do my best, fearful I could never be enough. I wanted to do what was right, yet I had so few moments remembering my Mom doing what a mother is actually supposed to do.
I didn’t follow in her footsteps, and yes I have provided for you, but did I bake enough cookies? Did I make enough crafts? Did I read to you enough? Did I play with you enough? Did I spend enough time giving you values that you will have for the rest of you life? Maybe not.
Would I have done it differently? Only if the circumstances had been different. Do I regret it? No. Do I wish I could do it over? No. But I do dearly hope that throughout the last eighteen years that you know that you are loved – that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you – that I believe in you and know you have everything you need to make your life everything you want. You are a star. Not because of me, but because of you.
During this time of transition, let us be gentle with each other; let us talk more about our feeling and less about our thoughts. Let us deal with the real issues and not the appearances. Let us really connect with each other and not run away from the feelings. Let us tell each other the truth rather than hiding it or hoping it will go away. Let us be real with each other, knowing that someday those moments prior to separation will be a memory. It’s up to us what we want the memory to be.
I’ve make mistakes – or learned lessons – many of them, and you will also. It will be challenging for both of us to embrace your imperfections, since so much of you is flawless. You will have to deal with forgiving yourself and I will have to accept disappointment on the other hand, we will celebrate your successes together and rejoice in your achievements.
I want you to know you can come to me. You can talk to me and I will listen. I was, have been, and always will be there for the moments that matter to you. I will fight for you, and I will honor you, and I will be your biggest cheerleader when you want one. You tell me what you need and what you want and I’ll be there.
This is a time of change, a time of redefining. It’s time for creating a new relationship between us – woman to woman.
You will make your own choices now, based on head, heart, spirit. It’s a time of soul searching and looking in the mirror – who do you see? Who do you want to see? What does that person in the mirror want to say to you? What do you truly want?
This is a moment of new beginnings – you are launching a life. I want us to plan times to see each other – all over the globe. And yes, with your new boy-men-friends. I’ll do my best to imagine that someone is good enough for you, but to tell the truth, so far no one has even come close.
I want you to have the most magical relationship that ever was with a truly honorable man who adores and supports you in every imaginable way. A partner who treats you with respect and honors you for the very special and precious person you are. I want the world for you – nothing less – and for all your dreams to come true.
I love you dearly now and forever,
Please use my letter to inspire your letter(s) to your children that say what is in your heart…words that are difficult to find, to articulate, to say in the moment…and maybe a letter is a better option. Write from your heart and tell your truth…let the melting heart pour onto the page to reach out and embrace those to whom you gave life! Especially read Chapter 9, even though all of the chapters are precious.
Happy Mother’s Day…you are the true hero!