Dear A & S,
However old you are when you read this, I want you to read it, or at least listen as I read it to you. Maybe you are 4, maybe you are 54, but it really doesn’t matter. I need to tell you something, because I need to make sure you know this—REALLY know it, before I don’t have the time to say it anymore (or you stop listening).
Here it is: I will never give up on you.
When you poke me in the eye in the middle of Safeway and it hurts A LOT and my eye is red and watering like crazy, and then someone I know, but not that well, comes up and says “Hi, how are you?” and this puts me in the awkward position of looking like I’ve just been holding my baby and sobbing in the middle of the store. Even though it hurt and I’m embarrassed, it doesn’t change how I feel about you. I will never give up on you.
If you get lost in Target because you are running around and hiding behind clothes racks and looking for toys, and I can’t find you and I age a hundred years in that moment, and then you appear, happy as a clam and I get VERY angry at you, please understand that underneath that anger is me being very scared, and needing you to never do that again. But even if you do it again, I will never give up on you.
When you tell me you love me and that I’m the best mother in the world, it will feel great, but I won’t let it interfere with the fact that you still can’t have candy before dinner. Because I will never give up on you.
When you hurt yourself doing something I TOLD you not to do, and then get angry at me because you are hurt, I will brace myself and kiss away your owie, even though I hate being blamed for things that are not my fault. Because I will never give up on you.
When you use your little fists to hit me because you don’t know how else to express how angry you are in that moment, I will be mad and sad, but that is not me giving up on you. I might take away your dessert, though.
When I throw up my hands in utter frustration and say “I give up!!” because the two of you are arguing about who gets to get in the car first, please understand—I’m frustrated. This is me giving up on your behaviour on this particular occasion—but I will NEVER give up on you.
When you throw a fit in the middle of Canadian Tire because you want the display booster seat, and NOT the one in the box, and you lie crying in the aisle refusing to move so I have to pick you up and carry you, kicking and screaming, to the elevator, where you collapse on the floor in a fit because you “wanted to walk by yourself,” and then you continue screaming while we ride up to the next floor with a very uncomfortable-looking, childless couple, who promptly decide that they will never have children and high-tail it out of there as soon as the doors open, a part of me will want to say to them, “Take me with you!” But I won’t. Because I will never give up on you.
When you are unkind to another kid at school, even if they were also being mean, I will make sure you get in trouble. Because I will never give up on you.
When you, as an angst-ridden teen, tell me you hate me and wish I was dead, I will give you some space, then offer you a hug and cry tears with you, because you are feeling really frustrated with me right now. Even though your words really hurt my feelings, I will never give up on you.
When I hurt your feelings, even though I didn’t mean to, I will tell you, “I’m sorry,” because I am. And I also want you to learn that even people in charge need to be able to say that they are sorry, because I will never give up on you.
When you come to me and tell me that you are running away from home, because nobody understands you, I will tell you about the time that nobody understood ME and I ran away from home and sat under a bush for what felt like hours and hours, until I decided to go home and see how devastated everyone was and it turned out that nobody had noticed that I was gone, plus I was only really gone for about 45 minutes. I will tell you that I would notice if you were gone, even if it was only 45 minutes, and that I would scour all the bushes in the area looking for you. Because I will never give up on you.
When you tell me I’m a horrible mother because I took away your “laser phone” (when I actually let you have a phone, technology will have advanced to the point that they will be laser phones), I will still take it away because I will have a good reason for doing it, one that probably involves protecting you. You can go ahead and be mad about that, but please understand, this is me never giving up on you.
If ever drugs or alcohol darken your doorway, and the power of addiction sweeps you in, and I feel like I can’t even recognize you anymore, it may feel like I’m giving up on you because I can’t support something that hurts you so much. But I won’t ever give up on you, not ever.
I wish I could tell you that all families stick it out and weather storms together until everything gets better, and that everyone wants to get better so they can all be together. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Love and commitment isn’t something that happens automatically for ANYONE; love is a choice that a person has to make, day in and day out. I know what it’s like to have had people give up on me, and it is hard. And it’s scary not knowing what someone else is thinking or feeling toward you, or if they love you or are committed to you. And sometimes you won’t even feel very much love or commitment to yourself—I have been there, too.
So, let me take just this one thing off of your worry plate. I want you to always know, REALLY know, what I am thinking and feeling toward you. Here it is: I choose to love you, forever and always, no matter what. And I will NEVER give up on you.