Each day, Miles is growing up. Each day, I recognize new accomplishments. Each day, I realize we’re growing closer to having another kiddo running around our home, making this place ready to burst at the seams with joy. Each day, I realize the overwhelming love and devotion that comes with being a mom. There are so very many things, dreams, thoughts, ideas, and bits of wisdom that cross my mind each day.
And so, I’m writing it down, so I won’t forget.
I want my children to always know that…
Happiness is far more important than success. You may want to become a neurosurgeon; if so, I will support you one million percent, until you reach your goal and beyond. But you may also decide that you’d like to live on a pineapple farm in Hawaii, which is also totally cool. I will support your happiness, in whatever you want to be, and wherever you want to go. (If you choose Hawaii, make sure you have a spare room for mom and dad)
It’s okay to change your mind. Change friends, change favorite foods, change hairstyles, change majors, change political parties. When you feel that internal tug pulling you one way or the other, let’s talk about it. If it’s the better direction, let’s change course. A ship can steer in many directions, and your mom is a pretty badass co-captain.
Being silly is totally cool, at any age. Trust me, I know this for a fact. Sure, some people will think you’re weird, but guess what? Out there in the world, there are people who think those people are weird, too. Weird is in the eye of the beholder. Be silly. Sing, dance, laugh, tell jokes, make funny faces. There is no greater feeling than a big belly laugh with the ones you love.
What people think about you is not nearly as important as what YOU think about you. Be happy with yourself, be confident in your decisions, and have peace with your choices. Never concern yourself with what others think about you; know in your heart that you are happy with yourself, that you have peace with yourself. That is enough.
The world will try to change you; don’t let it. This goes hand-in-hand with being happy with yourself. Along the way, particularly in your teenage and young adult years, you will begin to see a projected image of “perfect”, and you may feel the urge to chase that image. Newsflash: there is no such thing as perfect. We are all different and unique and beautiful; and like I said before, if you’re happy, then you’re perfect. Close the magazine and move along. Also, stay off of Pinterest.
“Ugly” is a four letter word. Sooner than we are prepared for, you will learn about words that hurt. Words like ugly, stupid, and dumb. Please know that these words are equivalent to profanity in our home. You will never hear your parents use these words to describe anything, especially not another person (even during football season). We will help you to understand that we are all different and unique and beautiful, and that we are all capable of love and compassion. We ask you to teach this to your peers, too. There is no room in this world for words that hurt.
Help others. Give the homeless guy a sandwich. Drop your spare change in the Salvation Army’s bucket. Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Become involved with non-profits that you care passionately about. Help your friend move across town. Be kind. Know that you are blessed to be a blessing to every single person you meet, each and every day, in both large and small ways.
Say “YES!” Even when you’re nervous or scared, it’s okay to say yes in terms of learning or experiencing new things (legal, safe things, okay?) Learning to dance, to play the guitar, to spray paint street art, to make a chocolate soufflé, to parasailing. You may feel the prickles of cold sweat breaking out, but if you know deep down you’d really like to star in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, then let’s go for it. Also, you can extra go for making that chocolate soufflé, okay?
I am always, always, ALWAYS here for you, regardless of the circumstance. You may think you’ve screwed up royally (and maybe you did…) but that’s okay, because guess what? Mom and dad have totally screwed up before, too. Part of learning comes through making decisions that aren’t always the best. Never have an ounce of fear or hesitation in coming to me about anything at all; there is nothing we cannot repair or resolve together. We’re a team. Trust me on this one.
Have unshakeable faith. I am a late bloomer when it comes to really finding my place and growing in my faith; I want you to have faith at a much younger age than I ever did. Start early; have a strong, solid foundation. God is your super awesome best friend forever; I’ll help you get to know Him. Let Him guide your path, and be firm in your following.
It won’t always be easy. “I’m sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true, that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you…” The road will not be straight and smooth; it will have hills and valleys, wash outs and avalanches, but it will always have glorious peaks overseeing the stunning sunrise of a new and amazing day. Know that challenges will present themselves, and that you are strong enough to handle it.
Dance. One day, you will realize that your mom dances much like Elaine on Seinfeld (don’t worry, I will teach you about Seinfeld…) and you may feel embarrassed. That’s okay. I want you to know that if flapping your arms like a chicken is what makes you happy, just do it. Elaine totally would.
Experience life, in all its fullness. Travel, take classes, make new friends, eat spicy Indian food. Watch really bad B movies, then watch foreign art films. Sleep until noon when you can, but make sure you rise early enough to witness the sun break over the horizon every once in a while. Read books; read bad books and good books, literary classics and pulp fiction. Learn about Miles Davis, John Coltrane, David Bruebeck, Louis Armstrong and Cannonball Adderlay. Go camping in the woods, then go camping in the desert. Hike, hike, hike, then hop in a kayak. Appreciate the history and beauty of our state, our country, and our world. Take up hobbies; perfect some, fail at others, and get a good laugh out of it. This enormously incredible world is full of things to experience; never limit yourself.
I love you, I love you, I love you. Never, ever, ever think for a moment that my love for you isn’t as fierce as RuPaul in a Bob Mackie gown. My love for you knows no limits, and will never change, no matter where life takes us. I am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life. If I could hug you and squeeze you and kiss you a thousand times a day, I would (some days, I probably will). I love you, I love you, I love you.