For my son, on his graduation

Dear Aiden,

Congrats on your graduation! I’m proud of you for working hard and making it through middle school. I know it wasn’t easy for you, I hope you learned a few things from the experience. I can’t believe that you’re coming down the home stretch of schooling; it seems like just yesterday that you were born and I was meeting you for the first time. I’ll never forget the moment that the midwife handed you to me: it was 4:18 in the morning and I was so tired from being in labor all night and so sore, but at the same time I was amazed by the little person that was handed to me. You had jet black hair and were all bundled up in receiving blankets – you looked nothing like I expected you to but at the same time you were more beautiful that I could have imagined. When you looked at me with those little slate grey eyes that all babies have, I could finally feel the weight of responsibility that parenting brings. I was responsible for you from that day forward, and it was the most important job I’d ever have as a human.

The thing about parenting is that there are no rules. You are handed a baby and sent on your way and left to figure things out for yourself. Because you were my first baby, you were sort of my trial-and-error baby. While I was teaching you to be a person, you were also teaching me to be a mother. I like to think that we both learned a thing or two about life along the way. Like any mother, there were times where I made great choices and there were times where I made terrible choices. To me, that is part of the human experience; we just have to remember to learn from the terrible choices and take those lessons with us going forward. My hope is that when you are grown and you look back on our time together, that you are able to remember the happy moments and give me some grace when you recall the not-so-happy moments. I never aimed to be a perfect mom, I just wanted to be a mom whose children knew, without a doubt, that they were loved and valued. I hope you know that you are very much loved and valued.

When I was a young mom I had all sorts of grand visions of what parenting would be like, and then you came along and they all went out the window. I also had visions of what type of man you would grow into, those visions have grown and changed as much as you have over the years. The only hopes that have remained over the years are these:

  • I hope that you will be a kind man who realizes that we were put here on this earth to care for one another. It is our JOB to take care of one another. Don’t ever turn away from someone who needs you.
  • There are very few people with integrity left in this world, I hope that you will be one of them.
  • I hope that you will choose to be brave. Bravery is a choice and there is freedom on the other side of fear. Every time you choose to do something even though you are afraid, you are stealing fear’s power. I should mention that this refers to doing things that are good; if you feel fear when you are considering trying drugs or robbing a bank, that is not fear, it is your conscience telling you that you’re about to do something really stupid – listen to it.
  • I hope that you will look for the good in every situation. This world can be a cold, dark place. It will get to you and steal your joy if you let it. Don’t let it. The best antidote to negativity is gratitude. Find small things to be thankful for every day, even if they are tiny things that feel insignificant. Focus on the good. Cling to it. Force yourself to smile when you’re feeling negative. Relax your body. Breathe deeply and rhythmically. Thank God for all of the remarkable things that he’s blessed you with. You have so much more than most; focus on the good and let the bad drift away.

These past 14 years have passed so quickly, in just 4 short years you will be a man. Just writing that out takes my breath away. I hope I have prepared you well for a content life, if not, you can always come back to visit for some follow-up lessons. Life is a never-ending learning experience, don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

I love you and I’ve enjoyed watching you grow and become your own, unique person. I’m excited to see what the future holds for you. Happy graduation son! I love you forever, no matter what.

Xoxo

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