A Letter to My Children
My Dear Children,
It is the end of another long day. I have tucked one of you in your firetruck bed that your father built from the pile of wood a sociopathic Etsy vendor sent us via UPS and that you now must be bribed to sleep in and the other one of you in your floor pallet that lies, on the hard floor, in between the TWO comfortable twin beds in your room, neither of which you have slept in for over a year. Now I am opening another bottle of wine and writing you a letter to tell you how much I just love being your mother because that is what the internet tells me good mothers do and God forbid I should write you a letter to tell you to PLEASE STOP BEING RIDICULOUS so I can get off this medication already.
I love you very, very much, to the point that I allow you to slowly nibble my brain away from inside my head. I love you so much that when you repeat my name one hundred times in a row to wrest my attention away from my friend whose husband just left her for a supermodel so that you can tell me your sibling blew a faint whiff of air into your hair I do not immediately report you to the police for elder abuse. I love you so much that when you wake me up at 2 am to ask for a drink of water you could get for yourself using far less effort than it took for you to walk over to my bed, I ACTUALLY GET IT FOR YOU. As if any other sane person in your entire life will ever do that for you again. OK, so I am not sane, that is a good point. But any other insane person would think they were hallucinating again and just roll over and go back to sleep.
My dear, sweet, precious children, I do love you so very much, and I thank God every day for you. But I also cry out to The Lord that you will just freaking leave me alone while I cook dinner or read in my bed or wash my filthy, pathetic body and go play with the millions of toys I have purchased for you. Or else that you would let me just go ahead and give those toys to some refugee families so that at least while you are tormenting me my floor won’t be mysteriously strewn with playthings with which I have never seen an actual child playing.
Would that I be a more perfect parent for you. Would that I never yelled and was always generous with my time and gentle with my words. Would that I not even be a human parent but rather Jesus himself returned to earth just to raise you because he knew you would drive any mere mortal bat**** crazy. Because I know that you are my most important legacy and nothing else I do in this world will amount to more than the love I pour into you. And if I don’t pour enough love but rather pour electronic devices, you will end up like coffee with Sweet-n-Low in it, bitter and probably carcinogenic in large amounts. I also know that there is no way in any galaxy that your father, or any father, is sitting around writing letters to his kids about how he wants to try harder to cherish each millisecond that you spend jumping on his back while he tries to watch his football game.
So you had better not end up working on President Trump’s 4th reelection campaign or running a fake news website or faith healing on TV for cash, OK? And in the meantime, seriously can you just eat one meal without making vomiting noises? Or even just eat one meal that I cook, you can even make the noises, I don’t care. Or take a bath just one time, ONE TIME, without acting like the bath water is acid? Or wake up at your usual 5 am without expecting an elaborate dawn-welcoming ritual involving all members of the household? Or seriously just stop asking me to wipe your butt because you do totally know how to do that, it’s not like you have to do a self-colonoscopy every time you poop or launch your feces on a rocket into space.
Because here’s the thing; I know I need to do A LOT better. But you need to do like A LOT A LOT better. Help me help you. Help ME help YOU. It worked out for Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, and it can work for us too. Just meet me half way. Heck, I’d just settle for you just staying in your room after I put you to bed instead of quietly coming downstairs and sneaking up behind me like a serial killer while I eat ice cream out of the container standing over the kitchen sink. That is not something any child should ever see.
Now. I realize I’ve gotten a bit far afield here, like some rogue judge that has the nerve to check another branch of American government. The purpose of this letter was to reflect on how much I love you and how much I suck because I can’t cherish your abuse of my mental health and appreciate that you are making me a better person by dismantling every molecule of my body slowly and painfully so The Lord can refashion it into something he may one day be able to tolerate and you will be an adult in like 5 seconds and will be bathing yourself and how much I will miss eating every meal popping up and down from my chair like some kind of deranged Easter bunny. I’m sure all that is true.
But listen up, sweet peas, this motherhood thing can straight up suck like a baby at the breast of one of those Barbie mothers who write all those sweet letters, and the fact that I love you so much makes it suck even worse, because then I feel guilty that it sucks and then I can’t just run far away from here and live forever in a Fijian bure alone with my uninterrupted thoughts and let the state raise you and then when I inevitably lose my mind on you guys I feel just horrible as if that isn’t the human spirit’s natural reaction when its dignity is transgressed. And it also sucks that I don’t seem naturally suited to this gig and I don’t want to plan fun activities and bake thematic cookies and when I read all these maternal mommies’ adorably pining letters to their sweet babies on the internet I just feel nauseous.
And ultimately that is how you will one day know that I adore you, that I hung in here with you and even tore myself away from reading a book and crafted with you on occasion, when some fool gave you a craft set for your birthday not knowing you had a non-maternal mom, even though it completely bored me to literal tears and I did my best to give you a decent childhood and raise you to be hopefully decent-ish adults. I know for a fact that I will not be good enough for you in some way, but then, I have a feeling that all those Disney Princess moms will also fail their kids in some other way, just has my mother failed in some ways and her mother before her and her mother before her and before her and so on until Eve, who we can all agree was just a disaster, a real shagalabagala as they say in Swahili. And let’s just be honest, all the men involved sucked even worse because they won the biological lottery and still don’t do all the housework, which is just TOTALLY NOT EVEN FAIR. So, the bottom line is this: the fact that you and I are all alive and well and here, together, under the circumstances of my insanity and your apparent delight in exacerbating it should be all the proof you need that you are loved beyond all imagining. I know that doesn’t sound as romantic and gushy as the Hello Kitty moms and probably won’t make you weep, but it is the unvarnished truth.
To make up for my deficiencies, however, here’s what I will do for you (in addition to feeding and clothing you for the next decade-plus, YOU ARE WELCOME). When you come to me when you are 25 having recently been enlightened by a over-eager therapist who helps you understand that the reason you can’t just eat one Oreo cookie is because your mother hid in her room much of your chidhood, I’ll sit there, listen, and just say, “Yep. Pretty much.” Then I will pour you a drink, and we can move forward in our relationship as two imperfect ADULT souls who wipe their own butts. Until you have to wipe mine, and then I expect that you will do it with as much joy as did I when yours required wiping.