An honest heartfelt letter to my sons from your unconventional mother.

I always knew I would be a mom.  There was never any doubt in my mind.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been a mom for 25 years!

I won’t tell you I never thought I would not have a daughter; however, I will tell you that I realized I really was OK with not having a daughter.  I have the best kids a mother could ever wish for.

From the day my first son was born, I never had a moment of self-doubt on how to care for you.  It was entertaining to watch your dad spend a full 15 minutes trying to put on a cloth diaper.  It was first upside down, then it wasn’t folded correctly.  Your dad continued to re-arrange the thick bleached white cloth diaper, with the diaper pins pursed between his lips, throwing up his hands when you immediately peed all over it, only to start over from the beginning.

While I don’t recall having self-doubt, I can most certainly tell you that I did have a change of heart on certain ideas.  The first being cloth diapers.

I was young and there are pros and cons to having children young and, equally, pros and cons to having children when you are older.  For example, see the table below.

Young Parents Older Parents
You have more energy True False
You have the ability to be more adaptable to change True False
You are more active and can therefore chase (and catch) your kiddos from the front yard, the park and soccer practice, from in-ground hornet’s nests True False
You have young(ish) grandparents that get to watch you grow and participate in your life True False
You have playmates through your parent’s adult friends/siblings/cousins who are having children at the same time True Less True
You are financially secure False Less False
You have the patience needed to handle the stress of jobs, marriages and juggling parenting duties False Less False
You are able to do more for your children (i.e. financially) – camps, sports, technology, etc. False True

So, with this disclaimer, I ask you to be kind and to think of the following.

If I breastfed you less than I did your brothers, it was because I had a change of heart — kind of like the cloth diapers.  Breastfeeding for me was like changing cloth diapers for your dad.  It wasn’t that it wasn’t doable, it was just a lot harder than I originally had anticipated and it got easier as I grew older and matured and technology began to develop breast pumps that could literally get a full-grown man to lactate with the pull of 110 volts of electricity.

Remember the times that I read to you in the rocking chair that we still have and the time spent decorating your first room in our new home.  The same room you played in for hours on your own.  Lego kits, playdoh and your brio train set.

Forget about the time that I tried to trim your bangs and instead dropped the scissors on your toe causing you to bleed (and even more so, forget about how your haircut looked).  I learned my lesson the first time whereas our good friends continued to butcher both of their daughter’s hair until the 3rd grade.

Remember when I would feed you your baby food with your little rubber coated spoon, even when you blew green peas literally into my face.  Remember the walks we would take in your stroller always stopping at the coffee shop for an iced mocha – you always got the first sip.  You were the first to point out butterflys.

Remember the hours on end you played on the kitchen floor with wooden spoons and Tupperware (on your head).   Your requests for “apple jue” and “sannies” in your wooden high chair.  Falling asleep at the table after an exhausting day of being 5 with your head cradled in a less than fluffy piece of cheese pizza.

Forget about the times that your dad and I fought – which was often.  Remember all the times that we made up.  While we may no longer be married, I’m sure he shares these same sentiments.

Remember the Halloween costumes I made for you and the ones I started and couldn’t finish.  Your granny would come to the rescue to bring them to completion.  Forget about the dinosaur head piece that was top-heavy, but I made you wear it anyways (after all, I DID make it!).  Remember putting the webbing on your spider-man costume when we started running out of t-shirt paint and the neatly hand drawn webbing splattered all over your costume.  I rallied and stated, “oh dear, the spider farted.”  You wore that costume for several years always re-telling the story about the farting spider.

Remember the times we went camping with good friends and their young children, but try to forget that for the first few years I thought I could actually get you home clean and would make you sit on the picnic table while we packed the car.

Remember the chicken pox and your babysitter, Cheryl.

Remember the annual Halloween and Easter parties that we literally held for two decades and forget about the one year that I thought you were too old for one and our next door neighbors pulled out the stops to save the Easter Sunday.

Remember your birthday parties – always planned with exuberance and creativity.  Apple bobbing, movie dates, Chuck-E-Cheese, homemade birthday cakes, scavenger hunts.    Christmas always being one of the best holidays of the year, except for the one year when I dropped my basket and you and your father carried the holiday into the new year.

Remember our times at the cabin – lake time, ski time, family time.  Forget the times that we had to haul your stubborn a$$ into the car for a ski day kicking and screaming and forget the hard-core militant “get your butt out of bed, dressed, fed and in the suburban by 7:30 am so we could get a parking space within walking distance of the ski lodge”.

Forget the annual raking of the pine needles, but remember the tire swing, the pool table, the retro movies and music that you now create on your own.  Remember your now life-long friends that you met because of Twain Harte.

Remember the good times in pre-school/school, including your favorite teachers and that I worked in your classrooms and volunteered for fieldtrips.  Forget the crappy bullies and, yes, a few crappy teachers.  There will always be an asshole in the mix, its learning how to not let them get to you that counts.

Don’t forget the time when I brought home the sexual education book and for the lectures I gave on dating and how to treat girls/women.  You’ll never end up like Bill Clinton or Donald Trump – the asshole in the mix.   You’re welcome.

Remember your friends always being welcome.  Remember being “fired” from martial arts because you became the class clowns (much to the embarrassment of our carpool mom), remember being excused from little league because you were either chasing butterflies or disrupting the team with your newfound comedy act.   Remember the swim meets, the musicals, band performances, cubscouts, boyscouts and family reunions.

Remember to be kind, to have empathy to grow patience.  If I have never told you before, not only am I proud of the men you have become, I am equally as proud of the friends that you are to each other.  I’m envious.

Remember the time you came home, sprinting through the house with your certainly unexpected Mohawk and equally remember that I didn’t hate it.  This happened twice.   The unexpected tattoos – its only skin.  There was no drama with these choices.

Yes, there were times that I was harder on you than I should have been.  But equally, there were times that I took things in stride.  Developing the spilled milk response of, “if that’s the worst that happens all day, then we are in pretty good shape!”

I’m sorry we missed the boat when you transitioned to a new school.  Remember that the “lightbulb” finally went off and remember your friend who came to your aid and said, “we’ll dump any of your lousy bullies in the garbage can….head first.”

While my delivery might not always have been motherly like, I don’t regret the time I looked you straight in the eye after hearing one of your scheming ideas of how to get out of your next speeding ticket and I asked you, “Son, what do you think the officer will be thinking when you ask him these questions?”  Your response, “He’ll think I’m a dick?”  Yes, I told you, “Son, don’t be a dick.”  You nodded, no further words needed, and disregarded your latest idea.

Remember the Bitch Basket, the knock-off bike, jail time, the day in court.  We all start off with not a whole heck of a lot in this world and it helps us not to take things for granted.  Remember now that we are able to do extra things for you – and are glad to be able to do them.  It is because you are good people who make a positive difference in this world.   Also remember the time we bought your first x-box on Ebay and got conned.  We worked it out, but it wasn’t the best of situations.  Remember rockband, your first cell phone and computer that you seemed to wait forever for. That being said, I don’t regret making you wait for your own computer and for your smart phones (your youngest brother aside) and for having you drive cars that were “excessively used “ vs. “just used”.  Remember your jubilance the first time you drove your stick shift up the uphill driveway without stalling.  Getting your driver’s license, completing your first college application.  Remember your first job.  The surprise negligee I bought for your closing musical performance, the cocktail dress of mine that looked better on you, singing AC/DCs Big Balls in the car with the windows rolled down.  This is great shit.

The care packages, the homemade meals, the visits, the (mostly) unsolicited advice and the times that you did call…only me….and I was able to help.  Who else would ship Mr. Pickles and Tequilas Taqueria from Livermore to Chicago?  Overnight your registration because of the fix-it ticket you got, drive you to Oakland because you wanted your permit sooner than later, pick you up from a party at midnight, and kick your butt for not turning in your homework like you swore you did.

Remember, I am your biggest fan and it makes my heart so glad to continue to be involved in your lives.  I continue to try to be a better mother every single day.  Yes, some days are better than others, but please know that it is true.

Love you, your unconventional Mama.

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