Letter To My Son: Bad Dreams

Hello my little man,

It’s been some time since I last wrote you a letter. A year and some months, to be more precise. I wish I was better at writing down these little thoughts for you to read when you are older, as you are now while reading this one.

You were 10 1/2 and growing like a weed when you finally flew by yourself for the first time. It was a tough decision and one we didn’t make lightly. But the trips to your dad and stepmom’s for the holiday visit twice a year were becoming tough on all of us. 8 or so hours of driving in one day were putting more than just miles on our cars.

After years of putting it off, we finally booked you your own tickets and flew you to your dad. He greeted you with warm hugs and lots of love. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that you touched down safely.

Even though you were in good hands and probably having the best time ever, I always worried. Every hour of every day that you were apart from me.

It didn’t matter that we would speak on the phone or send messages to each other while you were gone. The moment you left my side, the worry set in.

And when I started to settled down to sleep each night after worrying about you all day long, my brain would wander and I would begin to have bad thoughts. Much like dreams but without the being asleep bit.

I am the reason you had (and probably still have) an overactive imagination. In those brief moments of quiet awake-dreaming, my mind would drift to dark corners where you were no longer with us and I had to find a way to live without you.

In those moments, I would lose control of my thoughts and fear the worst, as silly as it could be. And I would hurt from my head to my toes. Tears would trickle down my cheeks quietly. Life without you would not be worth living because YOU, my son, give me purpose.

Those nights without you still haunt me. The realization that someone on this planet could mean so much to me that a life without them would be meaningless, was devastating. My world felt like it was being torn apart just at the thought of something bad happening to you. Thankfully, it never did.

As always, you’d come home, chattering away about how great things were and how much you loved sleeping in and staying up late, watching movies and playing video games while you grew closer to your dad and stepmom. Together you all made memories that would never fade.

While it was great to hear you so excited, my one thought each time I took you back into my arms after a long trip away was that I could start living again. My bad dreams had been nothing but just that: dreams.

And my purpose had returned to me and, it was you.

With all my heart,
Mama

 

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Letter To My Son: Our First Summer Together

Jake,

Ten years ago, I was pregnant with you. Barely showing but feeling pretty strange dealing with the early stages of being newly pregnant. That could be counted as our first summer together. The first warm months living with the knowledge of your existence and my new role as a mom.

Then you were born in February, a rainy cold month and for the next few months I would bundle you and cuddle you as much as I could. Soon the rain dried up and the summer humidity hit and we spent your first summer keeping cool as much as possible. You wore very little those days, sometimes simply gurgling and rolling around in just diapers.

This was our first summer but in reality it was not truly spent together. I worked through it, keeping us afloat. We spent some time together when I wasn’t teaching or tutoring but for the most part, you were in the care of your grandmother.

In your 9th summer, my job had changed and I was home with you for the first time. After years of spending summer with your grandmother or in a day care or day camp, I was finally getting to be your stay at home mom.

I saw this as an opportunity to share with you new adventures and for us to bond again.

Little did I know this would be the summer I’d let you go. This would be the first summer I’d get to see you and all your abilities, independence, and confidence. I’d see your strengths and know you wouldn’t need me much longer.

We went to the beach together one day to spend some time with our toes in ocean and building castles in the sand like we had when you were little. I had these big ideas for us, that we’d chat and share and build together, never foreseeing that instead I would watch you walk into the bigger waves and play without fear.

Without needing me.

I’m not sad to say this nor am I sad to have seen it happen. All mothers know they will have to let go and let their little ones fly at some point but knowing when is the big secret. Try as we might to hold on as long as we can, there is no fighting the feeling when the time comes to release you.

When you weren’t battling the onslaught of waves, you played in the sand and chatted with others around you, never once reaching into the bag of beach toys you so lovingly played with as a child. I saw those bright plastic toys and battered miniature trucks sitting forgotten next to me.

Together we watched you blossom in front of our eyes. You no longer need either of us. Your toys were now memories tucked into a bag, covered in dust and sand from trips to beach all the times before.

It was then that I felt a little sadness creep up on me, sitting next to your forgotten toys. I felt my breath catch and my heart stutter a step as you ran headlong into the waves, abandoning the hole you were digging, and smiled back at me with joy. You were free and in charge. You were growing up so fast.

You stood up in the water, jumped through waves and ducked under others. You sensed when a wave was too big and you would judge each appropriately, all the while smiling and laughing.

Like life, the waves came at you from many different angles and at so many different speeds. Some were big, some were small. Yet you faced each wave with determination and confidence. As I watched you jump and play and swim, a part of me wanted to keep you back on the shore, hold you close and keep you safe from the unknown lurking beneath the surface.

And yet, as you turned to wave at me before you ducked beneath another wave, I realized you are doing alright on your own. You knew you could swim back to me if you needed something, your anchor on the shore. For the most part, you just swam and gave in to that joyous feeling of weighing nothing in the big, blue expanse that is the ocean. You went into each wave with confidence.

As the water washed in and erased your digging spot, covering it up with new sand and burying your past works, my sadness washed away with it, replacing it with pride and peace.

You will always be mine. From your smile to your stubbornness and your over active imagination, you will always be my son.

I can only hope from here on out that you’ll continue to want me around. The anchor on your shore. The smile that glances back at you as you take on each wave of life.

Your anchor always,

Mama

Letter To My Son: Your Girls

Dear Jacob,

I’m writing this letter to you in the middle of the summer. You are almost 8 1/2 and growing like a weed. Last night, even with a healthy snack or two and a full dinner including some of my soup followed by dessert after, you were still hungry. I swear I can’t feed you fast enough and I get the feeling that this is how things will be from here on out.

This is also the summer you got your first pets. After months of reading and prepping for it, we brought home two baby girl rats. And, you were beside yourself with glee.

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We named them Twinkletoes and Mia. Twinkletoes was white with a grey face and Mia was the same but with a brown face. The girls were terrified the moment we put them in their cage. They huddled together in the corner just shivering with fear. Poor babies…20140721-130148-46908747.jpg

But that didn’t stop you from loving them. The day after they came home you were up before the dawn to spend time reading to them. I could hear you quietly sharing your book and lovingly reading the story of some helpful penguins. But that wasn’t enough, you had to hold them. And try you did! You reached in without fear and held onto Twinkletoes with so much patience and grace. She wasn’t having any of it and not long after you can into my room in a panic to tell me she had gotten loose.

It didn’t matter. Your dad and I got her back in her cage and we calmed you down. You were so concerned and afraid for her but you wanted so badly to just hold her tight, to cuddle with her and to let her know she was loved. We planned to let them settle for a bit and not to force them out of their corner. You had other ideas…

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That little moment of panic didn’t stop you because you were determined to gain the girls’ trust. We spent time at the library pulling up books and you’d show me that we did, in fact, need to spend time holding the girls each day, even if they were scared. We needed to show them we could be trusted and that we didn’t mean them any harm. So I went with it. You presented such a strong case backed up with information you had researched that I couldn’t say no. Together we carefully reached in a pulled the girls out. Then, you cuddled and held your girls when they would let you and whispered sweet words of comfort to them and they listened. With you, they seemed at peace.

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And when they weren’t in your arms or hearing a story read to them, I found your nose deep in a book about rats and the best ways to care for them. You were like a sponge, soaking up everything bit of information to make you the best rat caretaker ever. It had become your mission in life to care for your girls as best as you could.

It’ll be interesting to hear you relive these days when you are grown. To hear what you thought and what your memories of these first pets were like. How you perceived yourself in this time, if you saw what we did. If you saw yourself as a dedicated friend to these four legged sweethearts. If you saw yourself grow both in spirit and heart as you learned to care for something smaller than you.

Son, I saw this happening before my eyes. In those first few days with the girls you aged and matured so quickly. I saw you go from the boy who had to have the last word in EVERY argument to the boy who thought of his pets first. They were the first things you checked on when we got home, they were your first thoughts in the morning, and you were always thinking of new ways to engage them and play with them.

It felt like overnight you went from a boy to a young man. You had a purpose and it was to love and care for your girls.

I hope when you look back on these times that it is with love and positive memories of a time when you were very happy.

Love,

Your Mama

Letter To My Son: The Hairy Summer

Dear Jacob,

When you were seven, we had a very big, busy summer as a family. It was the summer we got married. And by we, I mean me, your dad, and you. It was also the summer that you came into your own.

You discovered your hair.

Your hair was a beast unto itself. It didn’t curl like mine but laid straight against your head in a perfect shag. It grew more and more blonde with each passing warm summer day in the pool and outside playing with friends. Your perfectly chestnut hair changed over the summer to a perfect golden hue.

That summer, you were determined to grow it out long and you wanted so very badly for it to curl. Every other day or so you’d plead for me to curl your hair with a curling iron. Of course, those requests came at a time when I was busy cooking or doing something else so I had to say “not right now” more often than not. Even though it wouldn’t do it on its own and I wasn’t available to curl it for you, you found that your sleep habits helped create that wave and style you so hoped for.

I’ll be curious to know, when you read this as a grow adult, what your memories are.

Do you remember, as I do, the tangle that was your hair most mornings?
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The way it would flip out and scrunch up all over your head?
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It had a life of its own.

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Along with your hair, you also discovered your own style. You preferred a hat and jacket on most days. Your nice dinner jacket had become more of a costume piece. You wore it so often it had tears and rips in the lining. So many that I couldn’t keep up with them so I just let them go, figuring no one would notice…

Some days you were a super spy.

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And other days…well…I guess you went for that lazy beach bum look.

Other times you straight up wore a costume, becoming someone completely different. Comic book heroes were a big hit for you.

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As were comic books. That was the summer you discovered reading and the joy that a book could bring.

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Even if you read at the most inopportune places like in line at the grocery store or well past your bedtime. Many nights we’d find you wide awake with a book in hand and flashlight to guide your eyes when you should have been fast asleep.

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And just between us, I got a kick out of it. It brought me a special kind of joy to find you still reading when you should have been asleep. Though I had to act like an adult and take the books away so that you would go to sleep, I secret was dancing a little happy jig in my heart.

The best part about it was watching you develop before our very eyes. Rarely did you care what others thought about you. You did your own thing and walked your own road.

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Like the time you wanted blue hair.

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Or the time you dressed in long pants and a collared shirt in 90 degree weather.

You looked so spiffy even though I knew you’d be super warm and sweaty when I picked you up later that day.

Living life to the fullest, you pushed boundaries and found your own pace. Much of the time, it was appreciated by your dad and me. Other times, well…you’d push those boundaries and we’d push back only to find ourselves in a deadlock with you, head to head. It was at those times I’d remind myself that it was good for you to have a strong personality. It would serve you well as an adult, even if it would make your dad and me go grey early.

This was the summer you discovered more about yourself, about your interests, and about your personal tastes.

This was the summer I fell more in love with you, my son. I didn’t think it was possible because I loved you so much already. And I also worried, with the big responsibilities that came with a marriage, that I’d somehow fail you in some way. Instead I found new ways to love you than I had before. I loved your ingenuity, you curiosity, your creativity and I loved watching you discover new interests.

This was the summer you discovered your hair and it was the summer I discovered my love for you was endless.

xoxoxo,

Mama

Letter To My Son: The Adventure

Jacob,

Today I read back through some of the letters I’ve written to you over time. Letters about your strong-will and intelligence. Letters about my feelings on raising you alone. A letter about what your birthday means to us, especially to me.

I hope you’ve had the chance to read them. To know that in those moments, it was important for me to stop, write to you while my memories are still fresh and to share what was in my heart at that time. I hope these letters mean as much to you as they do to me, these little pieces of our past.

I thought about all our time together as mother and son. We’ve had 7 years, just us. 7 years of stories, heartache, lessons and lots of love. It’s been an incredible adventure.

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We’ve run races together and dipped our toes in the Black Sea. I took you to your first symphony concert and introduced you to The Beatles. We’ve seen wild animals at the zoo and pretended we were on safari together and discovered some of our favorites books during our bedtime stories.

Together, we’ve learned how to love through the tough times and how strong we are when we are side by side. I watched you huddle against me, listening to my breathing and heartbeat as you slept peacefully, so close and so trusting.

Then, slowly, I watched you venture away from me with tentative steps. Your small feet would carry you away but after discovering something new, you always returned for comfort and to share.

Now you walk away from me with confidence and I couldn’t be more proud.

Being your mom has been an amazing adventure. One I will cherish and share with you over and over, even when you are grown and able to read these letters yourself.

In a few short weeks, you and I will begin a whole new adventure. We will become a bigger family. Our journey as mother and son will come to an end and we’ll cross over into unfamiliar territory. While change in general can be unnerving, this is an adventure we won’t go at alone. We’ll still be together, still mother and son.

But when we walk down our new path, you’ll no longer only have one hand to hold, there will be another. We won’t be just us but a family of three. You will have two parents to kiss you good night and two parents to hold you when you are scared. Two parents to teach you how to be a kind and strong human. Two parents to listen when you have concerns.

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Our first adventure together may be coming to an end, but just over the horizon is a whole new one.

Know this, my son, that this new adventure never diminished anything we went through on our own. When you read this, I hope you know that what we had was special and just ours. It was our foundation and our beginning. It was a chapter in our story. A long story for us, I hope, with many chapters and new characters along the way.

I loved you more everyday which to me seemed impossible. I thought the day they handed you to me, my heart would explode from the deep love I felt for you instantly. It didn’t and still to this day, I love you more and more. No matter how grown up you are reading this, you are still my little man.

Now we turn the page and start off fresh. Off to discover new things to share with each other and laugh together the whole way.

Together on our new adventure.

Your partner in crime,

Mom

Letter To My Son: Separation Anxiety

Little Man,

Last night, I began to cry as I tried to fall asleep. I realized in all the change going on in our lives that we’re spending less time together. Not that that is a bad thing, necessarily. You are getting some much needed boy time at home with The Guy while I’m getting some much deserved me time more regularly.

We were attached at the hip for so long. For the last couple of years, I was your One and Only. I did it all for you: cooked, cleaned, bathed, washed your clothes, got you to school and picked you up. On the off chance our schedules conflicted, I called in the help of your doting grandparents.

Now you have two parents in the home. Two people who love you and all your antics. We laugh when you get over-dramatic about bedtime and we cuddle you when you are concerned about the future. We’ll kiss your boo-boos and send you to bed with lots of hugs.

While the notion of having a second set of hands to help take care of you and give me a few minutes of free time to myself is wonderful and healthy, it hit me: we’re no longer joined at the hip. We’ve slowly started to release each other and seek out new attachments.

I couldn’t be happier for us both to have found a love so deep and so unconditional that we feel comfortable no longer being buddy-buddy 24/7. But this mama is also a little heartbroken. You don’t need me quite the same as you used to.

You are still  my little guy no matter how independent of me you become. I guess I just didn’t see it happening so soon. While I’m blindsided by this revelation, I’m also in awe of how much you’ve blossomed as your own person.

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You have this big personality that’s vibrant and strong. You fight tooth and nail for things you believe are right or things that you believe you deserve. And you love just as hard. There are times I just stand back in amazement of how wonderful you are, how funny and how genuine you can be.

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You are so open and bright eyed. Everything you experience is new and different because you are constantly learning and reaching out for more knowledge. I can only imagine that some of your growing pains are because your brain is creating a new wrinkle of knowledge constantly! I’m always in awe of your observations and understanding of the world you live in.

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You’ve bloomed so much in the past year, trying out new things and putting to work your imagination in different ways. Raising you has given me a second chance to rediscover the things I love like painting and reading and playing.

While the adjustment period hasn’t been perfectly smooth and we’ve survived a bump in the road or two, we still manage to come back together as a family each time. We both love you, Jakey and while you slowly stretch out your wings and begin to fly off on your own from time to time, you’ll always have us to come back to.

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And I’ll work on not being so emotional over this. Because if this is how I’m reacting and you are only turning 7 next month, I’ll be a mess when you turn 18. And probably again when you turn 25.

Hell, what am I saying? I’ll be a mess every year you move away from being the chubby, bubbly baby that came into my life. I’ll always be the tiniest bit sad when you turn another year older. But I can’t stop time and neither can you. We both are growing and changing.

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So stretch out those wings and soar, my little man.

And don’t forget you’ll always have your One and Only back at the nest, waiting to hear of all the new things you’ve discovered on your own.

Letter To My Son: Missing You Much

Jacob,

When you were little, you shared a bed with me. It was for a number of reasons. One being that you nursed and having you close made it easier for me during those middle of the night feedings. Another was that we had a small apartment and only one bed in the beginning. I saw no need for a second while you were so small.

But the biggest reason was because I loved having you near. I loved having your little body so close that I could reach out and touch your sweet head or stroke your soft cheeks. I loved having you near.

When you started to get older and bigger, you started to seek out more space in the bed and found your favorite sleeping position. Most often it meant your little baby toes would tuck underneath my thighs as you dreamed sweetly about playing on the playground or building with blocks.

I didn’t realize until we were separated by many many miles that I love feeling your beautiful little feet tucked against me. The way they wiggle under and find the sweet spot where they will rest for the night.

That simple little moment of touch, that point of contact, means so much to me. To know I’m raising a sweet and sensitive boy who loves hugs and shows affection to all those he cares for.

I miss your toes and the way you seek me out when we sleep close together. I’m looking forward to your return soon, my son.

No matter the distance between us, mama will love you always.

Forever,

You Mom