Letter to Jackie 11/11

“Do you like being a mom? Are you happy you are our mom?”

I don’t know what prompts these questions. Maybe it’s my vulnerability, transparency in regard with how hard life feels at times, how overwhelmed I am with the schedule this school year. I decided a long time ago to never lie to you. Because you need to have a solid foundation of trust, to learn to distinguish between sweet talk and truth. So I tell you that being a mother was not my childhood dream. I am not a nurturer by nature but by choice. We talk again about how I decided to become a mom. I had assumed that it will happen in due time, after we got married. I didn’t prevent it and I honestly believed that I can do a decent job as a mom because, even though I am not a cuddling mom, I am a servant mom. 

You look at me and sometimes you say you may not want to have kids because having kids is too much work. I don’t deny it. In motherhood you die to self a thousand times. And what got to me was the realization that it never ends, it only changes, the time we serve. But then I tell you how I rationally pursued adoption and decided to become a mother. I had brilliant successful colleagues we accomplished everything they wanted on a profesional level. And social they had all the fun any time they wanted. But at the end of the day, colleagues and friends would go home to their families, and those without families would experience utter loneliness. They were honest about it. I mean, that loneliness can be numbed for a while with more vacations, with more work, with more adventures. But everything eventually dies down, and at the end of the fun, only fun, there is a sense of emptiness. On the other hand, at the end of sacrifice, of service, of bonding through familial love, there is rest, and an sense of purpose beyond a paycheck, beyond this life we live for ourselves. 

So I chose that. I chose based on what I read between the lines, and what I saw around me. There was chaos in large families. There was chaos in families with kids. My head was often spinning after spending an evening with friends who had kids and I often wondered: “how can they live like that”. As introverts your dad and I need pockets of silence in order to think. But you see, we made our own rhythm, we set our own rules and boundaries alongside you. Quiet time paired with fun time, early bed time, early rise, church on Sunday, friends we have similar values, and accepting the reality that you won’t always agree with my decisions but you will accept them, and in the process I will help you discern for yourself, and realize there will be a time of freedom but a freedom paired with awareness of natural consequences. Like if you stay up too late you will be tired in the morning. If you don’t do your homework because you put it off too much, you will deal with the embarrassment the next day. 

Parents forget how hard this season is. I want you to be responsible but not anxious, and it is a constant dance of letting go and catching you when you stumble. 

I am grateful to be your mom. Happy is too complicated of a word. I’m not jolly. I’m not giddy. I want to be delighted more. I try to find reasons to laugh and be lighthearted. But then I catch myself nagging you about homework, about brushing your teeth, about practicing your clarinet, or doing your back stretches. About being nice to your sister even when she is in your bubble. And she like to get in every one’s bubble and pop it. 

Ivy woke up early, as usual and snuggled with us on the couch as we drank our hot coffee. It’s quiet. It’s Sunday morning and it starts to smell like winter outside after the longest warmest fall I can remember. You are still sleeping and you rest so well in the morning. Your sweet face, you take a deep breath and do a little cute snore we can all hear from downstairs. You are my big 10 year old. Self aware, self-sufficient, brave, funny and clever… and in your now found independence you love to lean into my hugs again. Every day. For a long time you didn’t want to be hugged anymore. But I am really enjoying this reconnection. A new layer of friendship is built between us. And I pray it will keep us connected during another possible season of debates and rebellion. You have the right and responsibility to question your circumstances, decisions, life, God, but know that my heart is committed to loving you forever.