Dear Son, What I Want You To Remember Me By

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Hey There, My Favorite Little Buddy!

As I write this from the reclining chair in the corner of your room, I can hear your breath begin to slow as you reluctantly drift off to sleep. In the dim light of your outer space nightlight, I can see that your eyes are closed, your arms are wrapped tightly around one of the three enormous stuffed animals crowding your bed, and your blankets are already tangled as though you’d slept in them all night.

In truth, you’ve only been in bed for twenty minutes, which is why I’m still sitting here as I do each night, keeping you company while you fall asleep. Some nights I sit here for just a few minutes before the soft snores emanating from your bed let me know it’s safe to sneak away; other nights we’re here for an hour or two, you singing softly to yourself, me pretending to be occupied on my laptop while I stifle a giggle at your creative lyrics. On the nights when you simply can’t sleep fall asleep, I crawl into bed with you, tell you a story, and rub your back until you eventually drift off.

Most of the parenting “experts” would tell me that I’m wrong for coddling my 4-year-old in this way, that you’re old enough to fall asleep on your own, without your mama’s presence. But I hope you will remember me by this small sacrifice, and the countless others I make every day, all done entirely out of love. These acts are done gladly, (mostly) without resentment, and they are all because I love you and find joy and purpose in meeting your needs. I pray you will remember me by my servant’s heart for my family, and that you in turn will be compelled to selflessly serve your own family one day.

But this is not all I want you to remember me by . . . .

I hope you remember the books we read together every day. Not just for the stories within them, but for the worlds that opened up before us as we turned each page. I hope you remember the excitement and adventure these stories sparked in your young spirit, and the way these books helped you to see that you, too, could do anything if you set your mind to it. I hope you remember the lessons of kindness, goodness, bravery, and curiosity within each story, and that these traits will continue to blossom within you. I hope you remember me for my own passion for books, and for instilling this same love in you. I pray that you will always share my curiosity, my constant thirst for knowledge, and my appreciation for a good story—both on and off the page.

Though I’ll never be a Pinterest mom, I hope you remember my earnest attempts at making every holiday special. I hope you remember carving pumpkins at Halloween, dying eggs at Easter, making gingerbread houses at Christmas, and all of our other family traditions that we look forward to every year. I hope you never lose that Christmas-morning enthusiasm or your sense of wonder over the miracle of Easter. And I hope you remember how much setting the scene for these moments mattered to me, because I delight in bringing significance and purpose to special days, and even to days that aren’t so special. I pray that you will follow in my footsteps by investing in the small things that matter most to you.

I hope you remember all of our mother/son outings and activities: the scooter rides around town, trips to get ice cream, morning walks to the park, hot summer afternoons at the pool, rainy spring days spent inside watercoloring or playing hide-and-seek, train rides at the Cedar Rock Railroad, and endless rounds of I Spy during our time in the car. I don’t always feel like a “Fun Mom,” but the two of us manage to have plenty of fun together, and I hope you remember the times I’ve set aside my own preferences and obligations to spend time with you. I pray that you always keep your fun-loving spirit, that you will know how to set aside work for the sake of play, and that time with your family will come before almost everything else.

Our endless conversations are one of my favorite aspects of being your mom, and I hope you remember them with the same fondness that I will. I hope you remember the way I indulged your questions, answering them as honestly and truthfully as I could. I hope you remember and live out the life lessons embedded in our conversations, but most of all I pray that you will never stop talking—with people you know and those you don’t, with individuals who look and act and believe the same as you as well as those who are entirely different, about things that truly matter and even things that seem entirely trivial. I pray that you will continue to speak your truth while remaining open to what others have to say. I hope you have seen this modeled in me, and that you will always remember to lean into each conversation with curiosity and compassion, just as I strive to do.

I hope you never forget how much I love you. I’ve loved you since before you were born, and from the moment I first set eyes on you, you have held my entire heart. I hope you remember how I showered you with hugs and snuggles and kisses, how we created special phrases and expressions to describe our love for one another, how we both promised to love each other forever and ever and that we would always be one another’s very favorite. I pray that you will never doubt your mother’s love, and that this sense of being fully known and fully loved will permeate your identity and pour out of you as you, in turn, learn to love others with your whole self.

Of course there are things that I don’t want you to remember me by, too. My lack of patience and short fuse. My tendency to overreact when you spill your milk or scream too loudly in my ears. My anxiety, stress, and insecurity. The amount of time I spend in my head or on my phone. Hopefully, your positive memories of me will outweigh the negative ones. But in a way, I’m glad that you are being raised by an entirely flawed mother—because perhaps this will relieve you from any perceived pressure to perform perfectly. I pray that through my example, you will know that you can make countless mistakes and still be a good parent. . . and a decent human being. I hope that, like me, you will not be defined by your shortcomings but will grow to accept them and learn from them, while still working each day to become the best version of who God made you to be.

Above all, I hope you will remember how much I love Jesus and how I taught you to love Him too. I hope that the prayers we shared, the Bible stories we read, the worship songs we sang, and the discoveries we made together about God will never leave you. I hope you remember how fiercely I loved the Lord, and lived my life in complete dependence on Him. And I pray that the faith that is just a small seed in you right now will flourish and grow into the most important aspect of your life. I hope that you will never experience a day without sensing God’s presence and knowing how deeply He loves you—so much more than your mama ever could. I hope that you will never forget these words I tell you often: that God made you, that He loves you, and He has a purpose for you. I may regularly fail you as a mom, but HE will never let you down.

Tonight, my sweet boy, as I leave you to your dreams, this is my prayer for you. Lord willing, we will have many more years together to build upon these lessons and memories. And I hope that, when you are old and I am gone, this is what you remember.

Love Always and Forever,

Your Mama

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