An Open Letter to My Kids
Happy Mother’s Day!
The following is a column I wrote for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that was published Mother’s Day 2008. Since it is as relevant for me now as it was on its publication date, I thought I’d share it with you. Wishing everyone a blessed and peaceful Mother’s Day!
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
May 11, 2008
Section: Gwinnett News
Edition: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
MY VIEW: Dear beloved offspring: You all turned out to be incredible
Happy Mother’s Day to me!
LISA RICARD CLARO
For the Journal-Constitution
This Mother’s Day, instead of waiting around for the requisite phone calls and flowers, I decided to write a letter to you, my darling offspring.
First, let me say that I would not trade you for anything. Each one of you has brought a joy and a light into my life that I can’t imagine living without.
You are unique individuals, and your lives have already touched the lives of others. I have seen the positive impact you make, and while I am proud of you, I take no acclaim for your accomplishments.
A very wise woman once told me that parents accept more credit for their children’s successes — and failures — than they have a right to. That wise woman was your Grammy, and when it came to being a mother, she was an expert.
So based on her advice, I will not take credit for your successes, nor blame myself for your failures. I will do what my own Mama did. I will stand by you no matter what. I will cheer you on, offer advice when you ask (and try to keep quiet when you don’t), applaud when you succeed and help you see the lessons in failure. I will be here for the good and the bad, the glorious and the sad. Always.
You did not come with instructions. I have long believed that each baby should pop into the world with a waterproof bag duct-taped to his or her behind, and it should contain a “How To” document. Each of you has responded to different types of discipline; you have individual preferences for everything from food to receiving and showing affection; you are different in the ways in which you developed, and in the ways you choose to communicate. How can three children born of the same two parents be so different?
Oh, yeah. A set of instructions would have been a real treat. Still, we made out just fine. Even without the “Raising Kids for Dummies” reference manual, you turned out to be incredible human beings. I guess it just goes to show that God knows what He’s doing, even if your parents don’t.
Also on this Mother’s Day, I need to thank you for all the things you have taught me along this journey we share. Here are the top five:
1. My mistakes are not your mistakes. Just because I made a poor choice when I was 14, or 21, or 26, does not mean that you will make the same poor choice. You don’t have to repeat mine. You will make plenty of your own.
2. You know yourself better than I do. I may know you second best, but you know yourself and what makes you comfortable, and I need to respect that. Bear with me while I practice backing off.
3. You do not view everything the same way I do. Just because you grew up in my house under my tutelage does not make you a mini-me. Bear with me while I practice backing off.
4. I do not always understand your decisions, but I do try to respect them. It may not seem like it to you, but I promise, I really do try. It isn’t always easy. Bear with me while I practice backing off. (Do you sense a trend?)
5. The path I think is the safest and the best may not be the one you choose. You have your own reasons, preferences and needs that do not always fit into the slot I want them to. I get that. It has taken years, but I really do get that.
I could go on and on. The three of you have taught me more than I could have learned anywhere. We’ve had our ups and downs. We have been through some rough times, and a kajillion-billion happy ones.
That is life. That is love. That is what we have been blessed to share. The light just keeps getting brighter.
Thank you for giving me a reason to celebrate. I love being a mother, and one thing is certain — I couldn’t have done it without you!
Happy Mother’s Day to me!
(copyright 2008 Lisa Ricard Claro for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution)