As you start your second year of preschool next week, I look back at how you have grown in the last year. You are much more confident and assertive than you were a year ago. This was something we had hoped you would gain a bit more of in preschool, and you did. You are still very much yourself, as in you take a while to warm up to new social situations and like to have plenty of time to prepare and talk about new scenarios. You are very much like me in this way. But I see you tackling things without hesitation that would have taken lots of coaxing a year ago and I am so proud of you! I am so excited to watch you grow and develop. It is hard work for both of us, especially since we are alike in so many ways.
It makes me excited to think about how you will grow in the next year. (I am saying “grow” because if I say “change” I may start down a path of emotional hyperbole and say things I (kinda) don’t mean about locking you in closets.) I am excited for you to master the typical pre-school stuff. There are some pretty important topics covered there; I mean they don’t call them the Building Blocks for nothing! (Although when I consulted the “syllabus” to tell you that you were starting with circles among other things you informed me you “already know absolutely everything about circles”. Just wait until Geometry, poor sweet innocent girl. Your circle world will be rocked, big time. Oh, and Daddy and I are already stashing away money for a tutor for you, because neither of us will be any help what-so-ever when it comes to the mathematics.)
Anywho, what I was trying to say before I got distracted by thoughts of a mob of angry circles chasing me with protractors (do circle and protracters even go together? they do right?) is that while I am all about you learning about all kinds of academic things I am much more concerned about you learning about heart things. You are naturally a very smart girl. That's cool. But I would be totally okay if you weren’t. Because I honestly can say I am much more concerned that you are “advanced” in categories of kindness, honesty, friendship, love, generosity, and obedience than whether or not you ever really understand geometry. (If you don’t understand it you can consider yourself in good company…that is if you like hanging out with the coolest mom ever! What what!)
No, but really I think I will always feel a special connection to you because I see so much of myself in you, (and not just the Math thing. You might be a real math-lete. If so, more power to ya and Dad and I will save on a tutor. Score.) Sometimes I can get so frustrated with you, for being overtaken by your own emotions, for example. But really I think I am just getting frustrated at myself for still not mastering that skill. I want so desperately to be an example of a strong, loving, Godly woman, yet so many days, in so many more instances than I would like to admit, I am weak, unloving and ungodly. I have been working hard to be more of those things because I wanted them for you. But in doing that I have come to realize that in making good choices only for your sake I am not telling you the complete story, not giving you the complete picture of strength and love and godliness that I want you to grab a hold of. While I may not be compelled to work so hard to make these changes in myself if it weren’t for you, the truth is whether or not you were a part of my life these are areas I need to grow in. I need to grow in strength and love and godliness not solely to be an example for you. I need to improve myself not just with the hopes of giving you the gift of an easier path to these things. I need to grow because that is what God calls me to. I need to want these things for myself. If I am strong only for your sake that is not true strength. The whole story includes you my sweet, precious girl, but it is not written just for and about you. It might sound strange to be telling you this in a letter that is “all about” you. But, I kind of think this is one of the more important things I can tell you. It is not all about you. I do so much of what I do because of you and because of Braxton and Royce and Daddy. Being a wife and mommy are my favorite jobs and the ones I take the most seriously. But I would be doing something detrimental to you if I worked hard to model good behavior for the wrong reasons.
I feel as if I am stumbling over myself trying to explain this. I guess what I am trying to say is two fold.
First, I want to model strength and love and godliness and a slew of other things for you. I want to help you learn how to possess things that I struggle to grab hold of. I know I can not pass on to you something I do not have myself. Yet, I have come to realize that I need to stop trying to gain and improve with the main purpose of giving it to you. I need to be gaining and improving in my life because it is the right thing to do, for me. I need to do that because it is what God wants from me. I want you to catch hefty doses of all the good things I hope to learn, (and of course forget all the crap I fling along the way), but if I try to get myself together only for your sake that is a weak gift to give. You deserve more. I deserve more. Mostly God deserves more. So, I want you to know that so much of my heart is wrapped up in you and being your mommy. I want you to know that I love you in a way I love no one else and will fight until I enter heaven to love you right and be the Mommy you need me to be. And for those reasons I also want you to know that it is not all about you. I want you to see that my life is not revolving around you. While it may seem that my days are spent doing just that (and often they kind of are), I hope you can see that my heart and mind are set on revolving around something much bigger than your little universe, and my little universe for that matter. I hope you can see that the choices I make, the grace that I give, the forgiveness I seek, any strength I may possess or love that may pour out, the mistakes I frequently make-are all part of a bigger picture-one in which you and I are only specks in. (Good thing God really has a thing for loving us specks.) I hope that you see any areas where I work hard to make changes to be areas where I am striving to become more like my Savior, where I am trying to have my life be an act of worship to Him. I hope you see my life not simply as an offering to you, but as an offering to God. I want to glorify God with this one life I have. I am so pleased and proud that you are a part of that life. I would not want to imagine my life without you. I would not be me without you. But I want you to know that although you are one of the little loves of my life, you are not the THE love of my life. First and foremost I want to honor God; I want to become more like His Son. In so many ways that means learning how to love you better, teach you well, give you more grace, find it in me to give of myself even when I feel like there is nothing left. First and foremost it is about God. I have come to conclusion that instead of running hard after doing more and more and more and more as a mom, I will stop. I will fall into God. I will draw strength and love and grace from Him. I will make it my ultimate goal to glorify and reflect Him- something that can all to often become lost in long to-do lists,societal pressures of how to raise you kids and the immediate need to keep everyone alive.
I am pretty sure that if I throw myself into Christ then the rest will follow. I am also pretty sure that my own superficial strength and confidence are no match for what will be modeled for you when I find my identity in Christ. I am pretty sure that you will find a better source of strength in Christ than I could ever pass on to you no matter how hard I try. I want what is best for you. Every mother does. I think half the battle is figuring out what that is. At any given moment a Mommy has dozens of thoughts and choices rolling around in her head. I know I will mess up at least half of them at any given time. (You are after all our first born, aka the guinea pig.) I can not always figure out what is right and how to act on in every situation I encounter as a Mommy. But I do know one thing. I know the ultimate best thing, for me and for you. I know we both need God desperately. So when I say I want what is best for you ultimately I am saying I want God for you. I cannot guarantee that you will love God with your life, but I will do everything within my power to help that happen.
So, secondly I have decided to work less on you and more on me. I have decided to stop holding you to a higher standard than I hold myself. I have decided to stop making excuses, be the adult and stop worrying so much if you are up on all the theology and are the holiest kid at church. I have decided to stop wondering so much why you sometimes lose control of your emotions or tell a lie or two or lack the self-assuredness I would like you to have. I have decided the best answer to all those issues is the same answer for all my mess of issues. I have decided to go to the source of strength and love and godliness to fill myself up, to overflowing. And you know what, I hope a bunch of that spills over on you.
So, basically in all of those words, what I guess I want to say to you is: I am going to stop trying to improve myself for the wrong reasons (simply to give you something) and I am going to lay off of worrying about your heart and actions so much and take a sledge hammer to my own. I am really looking forward to it. ;)
As you start your second year of preschool, there is so much I could say. There are so many things I could say I hope for you, or things I want you to learn or remember. I expect you will grow in ways I hadn’t expected this coming school year too and I am excited to witness your growth. There is so much love I have for you, my first baby. Your story is in so many ways my own story of Mommyhood. I feel at times as though my heart is walking around outside my body, which is probably why I am so emotional about you growing up. I am trying not to look ahead to when you enter the “real school” world. All I have is right now. Right now you are 4 1/2-my beautiful, real life princess. And I love you with wreck less abandon. I long for you to know that. You are loved-truly, madly, deeply (insert 90’s pop song reference you will not understand). I love being your mommy. Being your mommy will always be one of my greatest callings, but it is not my utmost calling. My utmost calling encompasses all my others. I need you to know that. And because I love you more than words (now for the 80’s song reference) and because my life is about so much more than you and me, I am hoping this school year is a important year of change for both of us. I figure your growth and change is in some sense inevitable, mine might take a little more work. Yes, I said the “change” word. I am going to go grab a box of tissues now.
I love you my sweet girl!