Over the last few weeks, we have walked through some really really difficult things. I am not at liberty to go into great detail because some of it is still in process. Over the last few weeks we have been hurt by the death of a loved one, the loss of another though still alive to addiction, and quite a few other really heavy issues. It has been emotionally draining for my family and we are sitting here trying to catch our breath from it all. Today as I sat down I realized there is something I would say to my kids if I didn’t make it to adulthood with them. Kids, we are rewriting legacies.
You see, I came from a very difficult background. I have shared some of how suicide was a huge part of my past. When I became a mom I was terrified. I had no real basis for what healthy parenting looked like. I had no real basis for what “normal” was. I had a very flawed and broken view of a lot. However, this is what I would tell my kids.
My sweet babies,
I have loved you since the day I found out I was pregnant with you. You are by far my biggest challenge and my biggest reward all rolled into one. I love you more than anything I have ever loved. That said, I am not perfect. I know I made mistakes raising you. I know that I have failed you on more than one occasion. I have left you hurting, said the wrong words, and yelled when I should have been calm. I have let my own insecurities influence how I mother and how I love you. I’m sorry.
I am here.
There’s something you don’t know, though. I poured all I had into rewriting legacies. I wanted more for you than I ever had. I don’t mean more money because Lord knows we don’t have a ton of that. I wanted more for you in other areas. I grew up with an absent father and a single mother who worked all the time. When she didn’t work, she was deeply depressed. I spent much of my childhood looking for them and never finding them. While I haven’t been perfect, I’ve been here. I’ve done all I can to be present. I wanted you to know that when you hurt, when you laughed, when things were horrible, and when things were amazing, I am here.
Marriage does matter.
You often say to me, “you always take dad’s side. Why even tell us to ask him?” You are right. I will always try to stand with your father. I want you to see what marriage looks like. I want you to see that though he and I are completely flawed, at the end of the day, I have his back. I want you to see that love matters and marriage can work. I will always pour my heart out to your dad because he is my greatest reward in this life. He is one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me. I want you to see that I love him. I want you to see that though he and I don’t get it right, we will stand together on the hardest days. I want to show you marriage lived out because no one ever showed me that love could really last.
No one should ever hit you!
I know I yell. I know I really struggle with my temper. Can I tell you a secret? I’m trying. I’m trying with every fiber of my being to be better. I want desperately not to burden you with the images I can never wipe from my mind. I want you to leave my home without ever seeing me hit your father. I want you to leave here knowing that he would never touch me. I want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one should ever place their hands on you. I grew up watching the opposite with my father and I never ever wanted that for you.
You are beautiful!
I want you to know you are beautiful. I have fought like crazy to not discuss your weight, your appearance, or your looks. I want you to skip my struggle with all of that. My mom never felt worthy and she passed that down to me. I want you to know that weight doesn’t define you. Image doesn’t define you. You are the person you are and people either accept that or move on. You are beautiful because of the kind of person you are, not because of the appearance you offer the world.
Intolerance…. Oh I want you to live free of the intolerance I was raised around. I want you to know that all people, black, white, gay, straight, Christian, atheist or any other intended divisive marker, are worth love. They are worth respect and kindness not because of anything they do but because they are equal to you. I want you to never experience the racism and intolerance that played itself out in people I knew too well. I want you to look at every single person as a person deserving of love and respect. You do not have to agree with someone to respect them.
I don’t want your life to be scarred by my addiction. You have already seen the hurt of what someone’s addiction can do in a life but you will never see it from me. Your father and I committed when we were married to never drink or do drugs. (Drugs were me. Let’s be real. Dad never would.) We wanted you to see that a life can be just as full without ever tainting it. Your grandpa died because of his addiction and addiction has taken other loved ones from us. I never wanted you to live a life without us because we couldn’t put priorities first. Addiction steals and destroys but only if you invite it in.
I want more for you!
Most importantly, I want you to know that I know I am flawed. Over the first 20 years of my life, I endured things I would never wish on my worst enemy. I hurt in ways that couldn’t be explained and I suffered things a child never should. However, I wanted more for you. I wanted to rewrite your legacy. I wanted you to live in a completely different world. I know I have not been perfect. My mistakes will always be miles long but I love you with all I am.
I have a challenge for you.
Rewrite the legacy. Take the flawed and broken things I brought to your childhood and rewrite them for your kids. Erase another piece of the pain. Change what comes for them so that they never feel these scars. You will never be perfect but you can always always rewrite the legacy. You are more than where you came from and you are amazing. After all, look at all your mom overcame.
A mom desperate to rewrite the legacy.