Sweet Warrior Princess:
When you were born, three years ago today, I committed to write you a letter within the week…but I was tired and way too cozy with the warmth of you asleep on my chest and it never happened. Every year, the week of your birthday, I have the same intention – but I get busy, and more tired, and somewhere along the way, thoughtfulness and creativity are sacrificed. My letters to you land themselves at the top of my to-do list each year, and each year, they don’t happen, then I feel guilty for a few months afterward, and I finally wipe my to-do list and my conscience until the next year.
This year is different. I think I’ve been behind on most things by a few years. But today, on your 3rd birthday, I’ll write you a letter, and within it, an apology and a promise.
We finally just got you baptized a few years behind schedule. At the party, you slipped and plopped like Little Miss Muffet in a big pond in center of the restroom (purportedly piping issues from the sink). Naturally, I freaked out because bathroom water is disgusting without exception, and had to evacuate you from your beautiful puffy dress. Of course, your brilliant mother didn’t bring a change of clothes, so I wrapped you in a blankie toga, and let you loose to spin around in circles in the center of the party like a wild cave baby. Unacceptable behavior for a Mexican mother/toddler combo, but sometimes, sweet thing, you have to roll with the punches. I’m not the most prepared, nor am I caught up in social positioning or “the right thing to do,” clearly, but we have fun.
I promise each and every day, I will give you the best of me. I will always do my best to give you what you need – which may be entirely different from what the other kids need, and my best may be different from other parents’ best. In fact, sometimes my best really sucks. And I’m sorry.
Parents have the critically difficult task of balancing your safety and comfort with routines and rules. I don’t even know how to do that for myself. I’ve obviously leaned more toward comfort than structure. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe, just maybe, since I’m catching up in my good-parenting lag, I’ll finally help you wean from the baby bottle. You’re a big organic kid and drinking from a baby bottle is going to look absolutely ridiculous any day now.
I want you to be happy, but I don’t want to give you everything you ever want. I want you to be satisfied but not spoiled, comfortable but not constrained, I want you to know that it’s perfectly okay to not have everything you want, and to give you something to dream about, and develop a work ethic to get there. When I give you comfort, am I depriving you of the discipline it will take to make you successful in the long run? Here’s the answer: I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. The answer is no one has the answer. There is no right way, so together we’ll have to figure out what works for us.
I’ll never be the perfect Pinterest mom who crafts cute gifts or comes up with cartoon animal-faced delicious and healthy meals, that you’ll actually eat. I don’t always know how to the negotiate the tantrums, or understand what you need in the moment, but I’m learning, and growing with you has been a beautiful challenge. That said, I don’t always get to give you the time and attention I would like to give you, and sometimes I’m not the mother I want to be. So if you’re sad with me, chances are I’m also sad with myself. But together, we learn.
But you, my darling, are the light at the end of every day’s tunnel. You are my constant. You are my sunshine. That’s a lot of pressure, I know. The good news for you is that I don’t expect much from you – I want you to be you, and I live to make your days awesome. And as much as I’m able, when I’m with you, I promise I’ll be mindful, enjoy the moment, and always give you the best of me. You are the best of me. I’m already proud of the person you’ve become and am happy to watch you grow and flourish. But today, I’m going to forget that sometimes I’m more terrible than a toddler, and even in the midst of a tantrum, you are terrific.
Grateful today on your day and all the others,
Your imperfect, ever-loving Mama
Header photo by Kelly Rashka