Dear Christian (an honest letter to my firstborn)

Dearest Son,

We’ve been getting to know each other for nearly nine years now. I must say that these past nine years have been the slowest, fastest, hardest, best years of all. These years will be hard to top. That being said, I must apologize to you, Christian. I need to tell you how sorry I am. I expect a lot from you, and that is unfair of me.

You, my sweet son, made me a mother. You are a direct reflection of my unfinished self. The part of me that feels raw, undone, and not ready is embodied in your very best attributes. You are eager, brave, warm, kind, and bright. You are a precious child of God, divine through to your beating heart. You are a relentless student of life, people, and curiosity. You love fiercely and without expectation. I admire you.

When we were young (me - sixteen, you - just new), we went to great lengths to be tender with one another. You swallowed milk sleepily and smiled with your eyes. I cradled your fuzzy head and watched you as you slept. I’m afraid that along the way, I have lost my softness as your mama. Now my words are sometimes sharp and hot while my lips are often frowning.

Please, love, know that stern demeanor and weighty expectations are not indicative of anything you have said or done. Instead, they come from deep-seated fears I carry around and have unfairly burdened upon your shoulders. Fears like, “What if I can’t do this?” “What if I can’t be the mother they need?” “Will there ever be enough time, money, grace…” “How will they remember me?” “Am I enough?” and on and on…

Fear is loud and rings in my ears. But sometimes, in moments of quiet, I can hear my heart instead. In these moments, I sit in a quiet house with a glass of cold tea on a hot summer’s night. You lie stretched out long in your dark room, your sticky summer hair brushing over the tops of your ears. Your limbs are long and wiry. The teeth that used to be awkwardly big for your mouth now fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in your smile. Your eyes are my eyes - deep, dark, and oblong. When I remind myself to catch my breath, to step back and breathe you in, that’s when I remember that everything is going to be ok.

So to you, my precious son, hear me say again that I’m sorry. Hear me vow to be lighter, softer. A safe place to land. I will delight in your company and cultivate a family culture of gladness. My heart aches for all the times I have been harsh to you, for the times I have forgotten that we belong to each other. Luckily for us, we are always beginning.

With eternal love and appreciation,