Children that I wished for and had named (not the names you have now, of course) before I’d even finished 5th grade,
You are the most remarkable (not so little anymore) parts of me.
Indeed, when two became four, my life was made.
I once heard a friend describe her kids as her masterpieces, and that’s always stuck with me,
How beautifully accurate – God’s perfect love starts every birth story.
And while He’s always there, how often we tend to forget.
When colicky babes mean little sleep and Mom and Dad get upset.
Or when the bill comes due for the Bili bed thanks to jaundice we didn’t expect,
And credit card bills are mounting, demanding more than our paychecks collect.
Unmet expectations silently roll around our heads,
And we nurse assumed hurts despite not a word being said.
Others are moving up all around us, and try as we might,
A fledgling bit of jealousy takes root, a bitterness and spite.
We want a certain kind of life for you, and we fear we’re not getting there fast enough,
But where is “there”, and why are the diaper, toilet-training, preschool years so tough?
We take on side hustles, because a 3% merit a year just won’t cut it,
And then we feel lousy when there isn’t patience for a perfectly normal toddler fit.
Finally, we catch a break and move into our dream neighborhood,
And no one knows how badly we’re scraping by, because we make it look good.
Mom is stressed, burning the candle at both ends,
And she cries at the top of the stairs, closing tired eyes until she feels chubby little hands.
We’re sorry for what we did Mama, they say. Please don’t be sad. We will do better.
And mama thinks to herself, that was my promise to you,
and her heart breaks some.
Then God does the neatest thing of all, Waymaker that He is.
This little family jumps at the chance to move West,
for opportunity, and for rest.
And then mama isn’t so sad about all the things she feels she cannot do.
With hopeful hearts, the adventure begins anew.
Things will be different; things will be better.
And some of the time, that’s actually true.
But then Dad can’t find a job,
and the one Mom moved there for turns out to be
a nice boost in pay, but a bumpy road in every other sort of way.
What have we done? What will we do?
Dear children, I fear that once again I’m failing you.
Trying to make the magic and be what I never had and wanted so badly,
And then berating myself when one of my heart-in-the-right-place ideas fails spectacularly.
I ask myself questions I’ll never really fully know the answers to.
Did I yell too much? Did I make emotionally-charged choices that irrevocably wounded you?
Try as I might, those ghosts from the nursery and from my own upbringing are hard to shake.
Many restless nights I lie awake,
Asking God to help me believe that I too am forgiven.
For my own baggage and all the mistakes I’ve made that are an unavoidable part of living.
In all the ways that matter, of course, I know I’ve done right by you,
And I hope with everything I’ve got that you believe this too.
I am broken. I am flawed.
I’ve sheltered you from so much of that until your perspective got quite broad.
I knew it would be better for you to hear it from me, so I told you firsthand.
And God love you, your heart revealed just how much you understand.
I try to keep it tucked away, but sometimes the hurt comes pouring out.
And it’s the greatest blessing of my life to know your unconditional love,
and that you know what it’s about.
So forgive me if I get a little weird every year when this day rolls around.
It’s a painful one for sure, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate all the blessings that abound.
Like you, your Dad, and the mothers who helped shape me, Into this Work in Progress aka Hot Mess aka Fiercely Loyal Mama that He made me to be.
I love you times infinity,