I found this letter that I'd written to myself many years ago. It broke my heart to see that I was in that place. I think we all have these moments when we feel like everything we tried to do wasn't right at all.
That girl so many years ago, alone and struggling to be a single mother and raising two little boys, she was so strong and never had any thoughts of regret. I remember moments thinking that we just needed to get through this storm, and tomorrow it would be brighter. And it was, it really was. I learned so much about life and people. There were strangers who did see my struggle, who were also struggling in different ways. Like my neighbors, field workers who got up before the sun and went out into the heat to work. Many of them didn't speak English. But they saw my struggle and would bring my children over and feed them and allow them to play in the sprinklers with their kids. Yet the people who drove nice cars and lived in big houses would turn their faces away and bark at those same children for playing too close to their homes on their long walks to school.
I went through moments of doubt through my motherhood, wondering if I did enough to prepare my kids for life away from home. I wondered if I should have taken different paths or pretended more to be perfect. I wish I could take that young mother out for coffee now, tell her that it is going to be okay and that she's the best mom for the children that she raised. In those years, she never turned away a child, took them in and gave them food and a home. She was a great mom. She just didn't need a mug to say it.
I was a bad mother. I didn’t have a clue of what I was doing, except winging it. I was too young, too scared, too screwed up. Now they are all grown up and I want to go back to when they were babies and tell them they didn’t need to grow up so fast.
I loved them fiercely. But I didn’t love myself yet.
I wanted them so much. To be a mother is an honor. I just wish I had been better at showing them who I could be. I want more days like springtime when we walked slowly and talked about everything. And fewer days when we walked quickly, prodded by lack of time and discomfort of uncomfortable shoes and wishing we had a car like the ones that drove by us quickly in the summer heat.
I wanted to teach them everything. But I didn’t know much.
I was over my head, drowning in fear. I wish I had given them extra kisses when they fell down and fewer pleas to grow up and stop crying. We were a team, a family. We all had to be team players and do our part, even when you are only two.
I gave them all that I had. But I didn’t have much.
They are grown-ups now. Men, with jobs and homes of their own. I wish for more snuggles, more books, more birthday breakfasts in bed, more time. I want to go back and play pirates again, dragging sheets and pillows into the middle of the room. Stacking chairs and hiding “below deck” with flashlights. More giggles, more breakfasts of leftover pizza, more fun.
I could have been a better mother. But for no reason at all, they loved me anyway.