Why parenting is awful but incredible

Dear Daughter,

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. One of my favorite holidays! It’s nice that there’s a whole day dedicated to the most important job in the world.

A friend of mine, who is in a long-term relationship but not yet married, has said recently that she doesn’t know if she could be a mom. She hears the stories of kids throwing temper tantrums, pooping or peeing in places they shouldn’t be, monopolizing their parents’ time—and their sleep!—and she thinks, “I don’t want that!” Based on that information alone, I don’t blame her.

So much of parenting is unglamorous, sure. But it’s what’s on the other side that makes it worthwhile. In the movie The Back-up Plan, a man describes parenting like this:

Comical, yes, but the most accurate summation of parenting I’ve heard. I don’t want you to worry about the “awful” moments. Because the incredible moments somehow make those disappear.

I love being your mother because I love seeing your smile of delight when you learn something new. I love when you curl up next to me on the couch. I love hearing your belly laugh. I love the silly pranks you pull, and the thoughtful gestures you do that take my breath away. I love seeing your talents develop. I love watching you grow into a beautiful young woman…

I could go on and on.

I’m so proud that you’re my daughter, Daughter. Thanks for making me a mom.

Love,
Mom

Starting with a clean slate

Dear Daughter,

I suppose I should make the above subject plural—Daughters—because there are two of you now… a fact that both thrills and frightens me all at the same time. Little girls are wonderful. They’re pretty, sweet, and have cute clothes. I understand girls. They make sense to me (as opposed to boys, whose affinity for dirt and destruction baffles me). But I think—and I’m just presuming here—that parenting a daughter is much more nerve-wracking than parenting a son. Because while girls are pretty, sweet, and have cute clothes, they are also emotional beings who wear their hearts on their sleeves. They’re prone to get hurt, both physically and emotionally, more easily than boys are, and that is sometimes too much for a parent to bear.

The whole reason I started writing this blog, these letters to Daughter, is to help my daughter (now daughters) and other young women make the right choices, to warn them of what obstacles might be ahead of them and to guide them in navigating those obstacles accordingly. I don’t have all the answers myself (far from it!) but I do have some expertise on the matter. Because I am a girl. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’ve gotten hurt, both physically and emotionally.

One of the most fascinating things about having a baby is that, once they enter the world, they are a clean slate. They haven’t yet been jaded by the reality of life. They haven’t yet learned what they can get away with or what influences might harm them.  So at that moment when the baby is pulled out of the womb, parents are given the opportunity to do things right, to discipline and guide their child in the best possible way. And while it will never go perfectly, because no parent is perfect, it is the hope and intention of most parents that the baby will grow into a caring, respectful child and later into a sensible, hard-working adult.

Similarly, every time I write a new letter/post here, I have the opportunity to help guide my daughters and others to a more fulfilling life. Every blank screen is a clean slate that, when filled, might help others—and myself!–see things in a new way and become better people for it.

So the fact that I haven’t written anything in the past couple of months has had a profound effect on me. I’ve been feeling a little bit empty, and incredibly guilty, because I wasn’t using this platform to help you or others. Granted, I’ve been busy! Taking care of a newborn is no easy task, and takes up much more of my time than I had anticipated. But there were times when I could have written but chose not to, because I wanted to take that time for myself rather than for others. And I think I needed that “me” time. I still do… everyone does! But what I also needed was to pursue my passion and my calling, which is writing these letters to you, Daughter.

So I’m going to do the best that I can with this tremendous opportunity I’ve been given. I acknowledge that there will be days when it truly is impossible to write. But I want to make this a priority again, because you are my priority. I look forward to returning to this fun, thought-provoking medium to communicate just how much you mean to me.

Love,
Mom