As youngsters, we dream of what we want to be when we grow up. Many of us dream of becoming doctors, nurses, teachers, and astronauts. When I was young, my main goal in life was to become a mother. Don’t get me wrong, I had my list of “careers” that I aspired to have. I wanted to be a dentist, a lawyer, a salon owner, a nurse and a doctor. Those all came and went, but I still wanted to be a mother, more than anything in this world. When I was pregnant with my eldest, I kept thinking about writing a letter like the one I am going to compose. Twenty years later, and 4 kids later, I am finally getting around to it.
Dear Caleb, Joshua, Elijah and Annalisa,
I first want to say that I could never imagine my life without each of you. If I had never accomplished one other thing in this life, my life would be complete simply because of the four of you!
I have been planning this letter for a very long time, since I was pregnant with Caleb actually. I had an idea of what I wanted to write and convey to you, but I am certain it would be very different from what I am about to tell you now. You see, mom had to grow up herself. She had to experience things that at that time, she never imagined would happen in her life. So I think it worked out the way it was supposed to, like most things in life do if you give them a little time.
To each of you, let me premise, I understand how very different and unique you each are from one another, so my desire is that you adapt these nuggets of knowledge to your own individual personalities.
1. Be kind to others. Please. Kindness is not being a “doormat.” Never allow others to use you or mistake your kindness as weakness, or something to take advantage of. You will get burned, it will happen. Just do not let that deter you from doing and acting in a way that you know in your heart is right. Being kind opens many doors and opportunities. You will become the type of person that others desire to be around both personally and professionally.
2. Learn to adapt. This statement is a bit silly, as you each have had to adapt already in ways that I never imagined when I brought you into this world. However, you still must remember that adapting is a continual process and vitally necessary to be successful in this life. You never know what you will have to do, so all these things that I harp at you about are to help you to adapt. I desire that you are comfortable in a low-key environment sitting around a bonfire and eating bbq with your fingers. I also want you each to know how to conduct yourself at a fine dining establishment, know how to wear a suit, tie a tie, when to wear a tux, or an evening gown for my daughter. I teach you things such as not putting your elbows on the table, how to eat with a fork properly, keep your mouths closed when eating, and the proper use of your napkin. In addition, I emphasize having meaningful conversation with others, and the importance of knowing a bit about current events, history, a bit of art, and music. This is so that you will hopefully become a well-rounded individual. Please speak well, make eye contact, do not interrupt, shake hands firmly (not like a dead, floppy fish). These things are all life skills that you need in order to adapt. Perhaps you will never use them, but if you do, you will KNOW what to do.
3. Laugh. Laugh daily. Laugh at yourself. Find humor in the mundane, ordinary, everyday things. Life can become unbearable at times. Humor is the best medicine. I know I annoy each of you with things that you do not find funny, and my laughter is slightly obnoxious (one day when I leave this earth, you will miss that, I promise). I do this to teach you to laugh, despite the not-so funny things that happen in our day-to-day lives.
4. Save. Please save your money, but do not be afraid to treat yourself either. This is certainly a fine balance, and is a learned behavior. It is difficult when you are young to see the need for saving for the future, because you are young. Trust me, learning this now will probably be one of the most valuable things for your future.
5. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Success is not gained by sitting on the sidelines and watching. You have to take the world, you must take what is yours and what you want. Step outside of your comfort zones. Be willing to fail, do not fear it. Failure is not a negative thing! Failure is honestly one of the most positive things that will ever happen to you, IF you learn from it. Do not be like me and live your early life fearful of failure. I was so afraid to fail, so afraid to disappoint that I never did what I truly wanted to do,until just a few years ago. It paralyzed me so much that I simply existed. I did not live life to the fullest because I feared failure.
To My Sons:
I cannot even begin to express how much I love each of you. You are my baby boys, no matter how old you get, you will always be my baby boys. With that said, I have raised you from day one to be men. It is my desire that you each become successful in whatever it is you decide to do. As I always say, do not do it half ass, if you are going to do something do it with excellence. I want you each to become men who are noble and proud, which not arrogant and pompous. Be competitive, go for what you want and desire, but do so with integrity and intelligence. Spend these years exploring and finding what it is you like, what makes you tick, what brings you passion. BE PASSIONATE about something. It would break my heart to know that any one of you lacked passion in this life. Work hard daily, but do not fail to work smart.
Regarding women, be the guy who opens her door. Walk on the outside of the sidewalk. Be a protector and provider. Yes, women are strong and independent, and they certainly can and do provide and protect, but please be that man. Be the man who is not afraid to have a strong, successful partner. Encourage her, help her, treat her like a queen, look in her eyes and tell her how beautiful and intelligent she is. A good woman will do the same in return, and allow you to spoil her even though she is capable of doing it herself. You knowing that she is capable, brings her peace. This is the kind of woman I desire for you to find. If you find her early, great. If you have to spend years weeding through, that’s great too. Never rush your search for a partner that best suits you. You have time, you should be picky. If the respect and love that you give is not being returned, then you need to walk away. Remember though, the things you did to capture the heart of another, you must continue. Good relationships take work, they do not just happen. You will be hurt. I am sorry for that, and my heart will break for you. But, never, and I mean never close your heart off because of that. Do not become hardened, for it will destroy you.
Take care of yourselves. Eat right, brush your teeth, go see the doctor when you need to. Do not be stubborn gross men, who just let themselves go with time. As long as I am on this earth, and if I see that, I will definitely call you out on it.
When the time comes that you decide to become a father, be an AMAZING daddy. Change diapers, snuggle, and read stories. Comfort your son’s and rough play with your daughter’s. Tell them you love them, kiss them, hug them, protect and teach them to be strong and brave. Be present for your children. Go to every appointment with their mother, hold her hand and parent with her, give her a break when she needs it. Continue to court her and encourage her when the laundry piled up, her hair is a mess, and she’s feeling insecure about her body after bringing your child into this world. That tiny baby will one day grow up, just like you. Do not forget to nurture your relationship with his/her mother, the woman you decided would be your life partner.
If you choose not to have children, I will stand by you as well. Be amazing uncles though, because I am certain at lease one of you will reproduce at some point in time.
To My Beautiful Daughter:
You are an amazing blessing and gift. I never knew I would have a daughter. You came to me later in life when I was older and a bit wiser, than I was with your poor brothers. Be strong and courageous. Chase your dreams. You have a spirit and drive that I am still trying to understand. You are wise beyond years which is both good and scary to me.
I desire for you to embrace your beauty each and every day. This world will tell you how to look, how to act, but you have already proven you do your own thing. I hope you never lose that. Be strong and smart. Learn everything you can. I will teach to you bake, sew, cook. Learn how to be mechanical also, mowing the grass, putting things together, and being handy around the home. Be successful in whatever career you choose. Be a complete bad-ass, but still keep that softness that makes you so sweet.
Never let anyone, male or female take advantage of you. However, do not let this make you harsh and unapproachable. Allow a man to open the door for you, buy your dinner. Yes, you will be very capable of doing this yourself and he needs to respect and understand this. A good man will know this about you, and encourage you to be successful and help you along your journey. Be kind to him, treat him with respect and love. He is not a dumb Neanderthal, and does not deserve to be treated as such. Never let a man disrespect you (this goes for your brother’s with women as well) in any way, shape or form. Never be afraid to walk away from disrespect. You DO NOT deserve, nor were you raised to tolerate that type of behavior.
If and when you decide to become a mother, I will be by your side as much as you desire me to be there. I will provide guidance as you desire. I will understand that this will be YOUR family, and you and your husband will have to decide for yourselves how you wish to conduct your family. Allow your husband to be daddy. He will not do it like you. That is perfect! Embrace his style, and allow him to be the man you fell in love with. You will see him in such a different light if and when you choose this path. I will advise you not to lose yourself after children. Continue to be the strong, sexy, confident woman who I know you will be. Take care of yourself, take time for yourself, and for your partner. Never lose the passion you currently possess. Take that with you till the end of this life.
I am certain as the years continue, these letters will get longer. As I grow older and hopefully more wise, I will continue to guide you each in this journey. I have a feeling though, that the four of you will guide and direct me as I age. You have all taught me so much in this life already. I love you all, to the moon and back!