Friday, January 27, 2006

A Letter to Myself as a Mom

Dear Mama Katie,

First off, allow me to introduce myself. Or rather, re-introduce myself, because I am sure by now you have forgotten me. I’m you at 27 years old.

I’m confused about life about 90 percent of the time. I’m conflicted about so much… about the direction of my life, about the direction of the world. But one thing I know is, the past six years of my life and I imagine the future five or so years have had one consistent goal, and that is to become YOU. I just want to remind you how much you wanted to be a mom at my age, how good you thought you’d be at it, how afraid you were of it, and how much you looked forward to it. Every day.

I want to tell you that taking your children to Disneyland isn’t a bad idea. Me personally, I hate all of the marketing to children Disney as a whole forces on America. I hate the consumerism of it all. I hate how much money they can make because of one little character and all the spin-offs thereof. But I still remember being a kid, I still remember the magic Disney World afforded me, I still remember the joy I experienced being there with my family. Living in California, I still visit Disneyland once a year. And I still have a Sorcerer Mickey antenna ball and a Sorcerer Mickey trinket inside my car. No matter how much evil Disney might represent, it’s up to you as a mother to teach your kids what’s important…and if they want to go to Disney once a year, take them. Let them be kids.

Create a loving environment for your children. Don’t create unrealistic goals for them. Respect them, and encourage them to respect you. Don’t make any plans for their futures other than socking some money away. Encourage them to make the right choices. Don’t give in to temper tantrums (or at least TRY not to). Make sure they eat a lot of fruit. Volunteer with them when they’re old enough. Teach them to recycle. Don’t shelter them too much. Don’t transfer YOUR constant worrying onto them. Watch what you say around them. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep. Write letters to them that they can read when they're adults. Do NOT disappoint them. Teach them to make their bed every morning. Teach them to put away their toys. Give them an allowance in exchange for some light, easy chores: it will give them a sense of work ethic and responsibility. Stay involved in their lives, from infancy to toddlerhood to the elementary years, through adolescence and into adulthood. Insist on this involvement. Be their disciplinarian before you’re their friend, but make sure they’re not afraid of you. Kids need rules, guidelines, and boundaries. Foster your relationship with them in a way that they will always feel comfortable coming to you with any problems. Hug them a million times a day and kiss them twice as much. Love them with every fiber of your being. Tell them you love them all the time.

And when you’re frustrated, angry, sad, heartbroken, and ready to throw your children into a fiery pit, just remember me, a girl who wants so badly to make everything work, a girl who is overwhelmed by how difficult it will be to even conceive, let alone bring children into this a world, a world in which I have wavering faith…a girl racked with unfounded jealousy, a need to be in control, and a preference to be ignorant as opposed to hurt. Remember me, and be thankful.


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