To my boys,
It feels like every night I am counting down the minutes until it’s time to put you to bed. You’re both big enough to read the clock so long gone are the days of starting bed time earlier to expedite the process. Long gone are the days of getting away with many of the parenting tricks we were once able to use. When did you both get so big and so smart?
As I quietly close your bedroom doors, I expect to feel relieved. To finally have some time to myself. But most nights, the weight of the day sits heavily on my heart once you’re asleep. The arguments, the tears, the big feelings and the disappointment of all the things I said “no” to because I was too stressed or too busy or too distracted to just stop and say yes.
I wonder if you just picture me as this disgruntled, angry monster. I wouldn’t blame you if you do. I often wonder what you think about while you drift off to sleep. Do you remember just the bad or the good stuff too? Do you feel safe and loved in this crazy scary world? God, I hope you do.
Most days start off like any other. You’re both up hours before me, the earliest risers I know. One of you comes in to ask me questions every 1/2 hour including when I am getting up. Some mornings I’m kinder in my responses than others, depending on the sleep I got the night before. After snoozing for the second time I get up and take a deep breath before I call you both up to get ready for school.
Your reactions to that simple question often determines what kind of morning we’re going to have. Some mornings run so smoothly and I feel like I have this mother thing figured out. Only to be in a yelling match the very next morning because one of you suddenly doesn’t like how your gloves feel – the gloves you’ve worn happily every day for weeks. Or because I forgot to buy the cereal you asked for, again. And I snap like I always do because what cereal you eat really shouldn’t matter. But to you, it does. To you, it feels like I’m not listening to you. After all, you’ve asked me several times and I keep promising to get it. And I’ve taught you that keeping a promise is important.
Some mornings you skip happily into school and I get the biggest hugs goodbye and a second wave before you go inside. Other mornings I’m threatening to take away all your privileges as we say goodbye because I’ve asked you not to do something and you’ve repeatedly done it regardless to spite me. You’re both so stubborn. And after fighting over gloves and cereal, my patience has run thin.
And then you come home from school and find me at my desk, almost always on a call. You want to tell me about your day or ask for a snack and I have to mute and ask you to wait until I’m done working. Sometimes that’s a few minutes and other days you have to wait hours. Some days that’s enough for you and you go look after yourselves. When did you become so independent? Other days you blow up at me. You cry and scream and could care less that I’m on a call. All you want is my attention but I HAVE to do my call and I know it makes you feel like I’m ignoring you.
And so the countdown until bedtime begins. Only minutes after you’ve arrived home.
There’s so much I wish you could see, my boys.
I wish you could see how much thought I put into something as simple as groceries. Ensuring you have your favourite snacks and things for your lunches. And yes I keep forgetting that dang cereal, but it’s not because I’m not listening. It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s usually because, like always, I’ve left the grocery order until the twelfth hour and if I didn’t write it down when you asked me, I’ve simply forgotten.
I wish you could see how I watch you both confidently walk into school. When did you become big enough to be out in the world without me? I wish you could see that on those hard days I wish so badly I could run back and give you a hug. Apologize for my short temper and our unimportant argument. I wish you could know I spend the whole day anxiously waiting the opportunity to see you and remind you how much I love you.
I wish you could see that I work so hard so that I can give you everything your hearts desire. You’re too little to know why I’m always on my laptop and I know to you it feels like I am always working. I mean, you got to sit home and watch me work for 7 months this year. You’re too little to know when I’m upset because of something at work and not because you just spilled your water. But I see your face drop when I lose my cool over something so unimportant.
I wish you could see how proud of you both I am. How I ran to the bookstore the day one of you learned to read and spent an hour picking out new silly books that I knew you’d find funny. I love hearing you read and giggle at the same time. Mostly I just love how proud of yourself you are. And you should be, you’re amazing.
I wish you could see the pictures and texts and videos I send to friends and family, beaming with pride over the funny, sweet, kind and smart boys you both are. Some of the things you both say makes me laugh uncontrollably. How did you become so funny?
I wish you could see how hard I’ve tried to shield you from all that’s wrong with the world right now. It’s such a heavy weight to carry that I forget how this situation has affected you. Your world too has been turned upside down. So when you fight me on which masks are clean and insist on wearing the only one that’s dirty, I lose my patience. In that moment I’m more concerned about getting to school on time and not how awful it is that you even have to choose a mask to wear in the first place.
I wish you could see all of the nights I crawl back into bed with both of you and just watch you sleep. Tears streaming down my face because I failed you, yet again. I kiss your foreheads ever so gently and quietly leave your room once more, looking back at you again before closing the door.
I wish you could see how every hour of every day, I am thinking about you. Thinking about how I can bring a smile to your face. How I can make you feel loved. How can I teach you what you need to know to be kind, loving young men. How I can remind you that you’re my absolute everything and that the best part of my life is being your mom.
So as I leave your rooms for the second time, I say to myself, “I’ll try again tomorrow.” And the day after that. For you, my boys, I will never stop trying to make sure you see all the ways you matter to me.
Title Lyrics – “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift