A letter to my amazing kids…
Sometimes I see our life together as a journey through a series of rooms. We spend a little bit of time in each room and when we’re done, we close the door and open another. We can’t stay forever in any one room and we can’t go back once we’ve left.
Tomorrow there is a new door to open. I’ve been eyeing this door warily for a couple of years now, but it’s time to turn the knob and go through the doorway. This one feels different, bigger, a little scarier somehow, than any of the doors we’ve gone through before. Tomorrow Kacey goes off to college. I guess it has hit me that the youngest of my kids is now old enough to leave home and begin to explore life on her own.
Yeah, I know you’ve all been young adults for quite a while now. You boys have been in the real world for a few years already. But I don’t care how old you are, you’ll always be my kids. You probably have nicknames among your circles of friends, names by which I don’t know you. A few years from now, after you’re done with school and have entered the world of grown-ups, you’ll most likely and most often be known by your given names; as Brad and Jake and Kacey. But a part of me will sometimes still see you as Beej and Jaker and Boo.
There are a lot of things I wish I’d done differently in my life. Some of those things are what made me the parent that I’ve become. It is the things at which I failed that I most want you to succeed. Having the opportunity to go to college is one of the big things I’ve always wanted for you guys. I want you to have the opportunity for an education. I’ve always wanted you to be brave enough to venture out into the world and explore it on your own. I want you to experience life away from home, even as much as I’d love to keep you here with me. I want you to embrace it and love it and soar. No matter where your lives take you, I want it to be a happy place for each of you.
Knowing all of that, it’s probably hard for you to understand why reaching this point in life, when you are all on the verge of these things, makes me a little bit sad. And all I can tell you is that being your mom has been such an amazing gift that it’s hard to let go.
You always hear people talk about how life moves too fast. Children grow like weeds. The years pass in the blink of an eye. When you’re young, you don’t think so. I know… I remember… When I was a kid, summers seemed endless, and so did the school year. It seemed an eternity passed from one Christmas to the next.
But from the minute you guys came into my life, I understood all those clichés about the rapid passage of time. Even though I know there were many days you would never have believed it, you guys were the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes I’d forget to stop and savor all those precious moments. Sometimes I’d wish away the days of changing diapers. And before I knew it, the diaper days were gone and I was wishing away the days of never-ending homework. Then I’d wish away the days until you guys could drive yourselves to your friends’ houses and to games and such so I could stay home and relax instead of playing cab driver.
When Brad left for college a few years ago, I suddenly realized that all those days were gone. Those were some great days, I’ll tell you. You know what I really loved when you guys were little? I know your dad disapproved, but I loved it when one of you (or sometimes more than one of you) woke up in the middle of the night and would come snuggle in the middle of our bed. I loved the feel of your baby faces sleeping soundly on my shoulder. I loved the smell of your baby-shampoo hair. I loved the feeling that I could fix everything that was wrong for you.
I loved snuggling on the couch and watching Disney movies over and over with you. I loved reading Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Katie and the Big Snow. I loved taking you guys to the beach in the summer and playing in the snow in the winter, dyeing Easter eggs and carving pumpkins, watching you learn and excel in your many sports activities.
Brad, I wish sometimes that I could turn around in the car and see you at three years old, sitting in your car seat, marveling at all there was to see outside the window. I wish I could hear you again, shouting out at the top of your lungs, JOHN DEERE, whenever any farm vehicle entered your line of sight. Jake I miss you asking me to help find one of your many moken re-troll cars or that I could glance into the living room and see your millions of Hot Wheels cars scattered everywhere and pieces of racetrack snaking down the hallway. Kacey, I would love if you wanted me to read The Napping House to you again or that you would tell me another adventure involving your three-year old self and your imaginary friend, Kenady.
Those were the sweetest and most innocent days of your lives, and if I seem a little sad now, it’s only because I miss the feeling of having endless days ahead of us in which I could be your best friend, your protector, your biggest source of encouragement, the one who could make anything right in your eyes.
I hope that all of you know that I am so proud of the people you’ve become. Sometimes I look at each of you and see the child version of you in your eyes and I find it hard to believe you’ve grown up so quickly. I hope you know that just because I’m feeling a little sad today, that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to what the future holds for you, for us. I am so excited to see where your lives take you, to know what gets you out of bed each morning and to see the things that become your passions in life. My wish for you is that you’ll know love… an earth-shattering, sun-shiney, deep-down confident kind of love. I know that the road ahead holds its share of unhappiness and disappointment for each of you, but I hope that the shape of your lives is such that you’ll know, without a doubt, that you can rise above those challenges and forge ahead. If I seem a little bit sad today it’s only because part of my earth-shattering kind of love and happiness came from getting to spend my days with each of you. When you have something that wonderful, it’s hard to let go, impossible not to ache to go back sometimes, even when letting go is exactly what is right, and what you’ve wanted and planned for all of these years.
I might seem a little bit sad today, but don’t worry. It won’t last long. As much as I might miss all those days that have passed, the years ahead hold new doors to open, for all of us. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.