Just like the night before, on my pillow was a love letter written on a hot pink, flower-shaped sticky note: “You are amazing, outstanding, awesome, unbelievable, perfect. These are barely anything compared to you.” This came from my baby, my 10-year-old daughter.
More than 15 years ago, when my first baby was born, I learned how to be a mom. I learned how to change diapers and nurse, how to worry, how to punish, how to praise, how to clean puke out of hair, how to tickle and sing and play, how to love a little girl. I recognized that motherhood was a bigger job than I had expected.
When my second child came along two years later, I learned how to multitask, how to kiss and love on a baby boy, how to snuggle just a little bit more, how to be shared between two people, how to handle conflict (still working on that one). I realized that in motherhood, the mind is a gymnast, flipping effortlessly from joy to terror, from laughter to tears, and from peace to panic.
With another girl three years later, I learned how to juggle more needs, how to master all sizes of car seats, how to relax and give up control, how to cuddle three wee bodies at once, how to love another girl who was, despite the improbability, just as beautiful as her big sister. I figured out that motherhood was my calling.
With the parenting gig, as soon as you have something mastered, it changes. It’s a frightful venture. I used to make lists of all the ways I could screw up my children (yes, I literally wrote these things on paper).
The more I’ve surrendered my fear to God, the less fearful I have become.
Obviously, there are ways I could damage them – by hitting, insulting, neglecting, abusing, humiliating – but I’m not going to do those things. I am not going to mess up my kids by loving them unconditionally, by giving them a secure childhood, by listening to them, by being present. I’m their mom – they are my perfect matches. We will be okay.
When my baby repeatedly expresses her love to me in writing, I know I’m a good mom.
When my teenage son sits next to me on the loveseat every morning before breakfast, I know I’m a good mom.
When the oldest thanks me for helping her dye her hair turquoise and for not expecting her to look a certain way, I know I’m a good mom.
I moved the note from my pillow to my nightstand with the others she’s written and crawled under my white comforter, pulling it up to rest on my chin, just beneath my smile. Falling asleep, I reflected on what I have, amazed that this is my real life.
I live in awe of my responsibility to mold, teach, guide, love, and then eventually let go of these people who rock my world.