Elated Eight: Happy Birthday, Maddie!

Dear Maddie,

First, my apologies if this particular birthday letter is short on the funny, or heartfelt emotions, or you know, sense.  While it may be your birthday, I am not 100%, and it would appear that the common cold, as well as time, waits for no woman.  Sorry, dude.  I’m going to give it what I’ve got nonetheless.  Truth be told, I’ve been struggling a bit on a “focus” for this year’s letter anyway.  Last year it was all life lessons, and the year before that it was all the stuff I loved about your right then, but I love all the stuff about you all the time, and as you get older, you’ll realize that I don’t have that many lessons to give.  My life is a never-ending series of good intentions and mixed-results.  Actually, maybe that’s the life lesson:  Learn from my mistakes.

I think as parents, we often try to be seen as infallible.  We feel that if we are seen as human and capable of missteps that we lose credibility as disciplinarians, teachers, mentors, and guides.  To some extent, especially with really young children, this is true.  Just look at the mess we’re in with your sister and her sleep “thing.”  (Note:  This was the summer of 2016 when Gabbie decided suddenly and without reason to stop going to bed and/or sleeping through the night by herself.  I am sure you will remember this when you are older because it sort of broke your dad and me, and life was often less than pleasant for a while.  [Note within the note:  Please god by the time you read this let this be a thing of the deep and murky past.  Amen.])  We’re having a lot of trouble being consistent (which is not terribly surprising when you consider that it’s almost impossible to make good decisions when you lack sleep), and we’re reaping the consequences in spades.  However, as you get older, I hope we can unbend enough to show you that we’re not, in any way, shape, or form, perfect.  We screw up.  All. the. time.  We make mistakes in our parenting (sorry!). We make mistakes with each other.  We take a wrong turn, say the wrong thing, and quite frequently have no freaking clue what we’re doing.  I can say this to you now because I assume if you’re reading this, you’re old enough not to throw it back in my face.  (Pleasethankyou)

My hope is that by allowing you to see that we’re human, by apologizing when we mess up, by acknowledging the uncertainty that’s often right under the surface of a decision we’ve made, we’ll give you the room to make your own mistakes, too.  More importantly, I hope you’ll know that it’s okay to forgive yourself when you do eff* things up.  Because you will.  We all do.  And when you do, it’s okay to extend yourself some grace and say “Okay, that sucked.  I will try again tomorrow.”  You acknowledge the error, you learn from your mistake, and you make amends, even if they’re only to yourself.

So, that’s your birthday letter–my confession that I’m largely guessing my way through your upbringing.  Happy birthday, right?!  Just know that through all of this–the second guessing and the hand-wringing and the general state of “maybe?” in which I live, there is one thing I’m absolutely, unwaveringly, dead-sure about: You (and your smaller counterpart) were NOT a mistake.  We may call you our “little oops”** on occasion, but having you was one of the best decisions we ever made.  We’ve never regretted it for a minute, not one.  You’ve made the past eight years to most worthy years of my life, and raising you is an absolute privilege, every day.


Happy eighth birthday, baby.  We love you so much.




P.S. – You should know that I cry every year while writing these letters.  My only regret about this is doing my makeup BEFORE writing this one… 😉


*You’re, like, 18 now right, future-Maddie?  You know your mom curses a little bit?

**You were just rather unplanned, that’s all.