Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Ainsleigh,

I saved your letter for last this year because I knew I'd cry the whole time I typed it. But who am I kidding, I cried through all of them. Newsflash: your mom is a crybaby.

This year was hard for me because I figured out that my kids are going to have some tough times. I learned that scraping a knee or throwing a tantrum are sad or frustrating, but easy compared to what we'll face. I realized that you are not perfect.

By the time you read this, you'll probably have the maturity to know that nobody is perfect. But when you're a mom and you're handed this precious little baby, you know that they are the greatest child that ever lived and you never want them to be sad or feel pain. It's probably the post-delivery endorphins that give you this irrational life view, but you know that this child, this BABY, will be the smartest, prettiest, most gifted, polite and gentle person ever to walk the Earth. And if the endorphins are flowing REALLY heavily, you will also know that it's because you will be the wisest, most patient, happiest, calmest and best mother ever. Together you will conquer the world. (hint: I had a LOT of post-delivery endorphins.)

And then you come home from the hospital.

Then the days and nights go by and you're not feeling so superhuman and you realize that all babies will cry and all toddlers will whine and all children will be dumb. And maybe your precious child is a little quieter and more creative and that's a gift, you think. And maybe she takes a little longer to get stuff done and remember things, and that's a stage, you think. And then maybe she isn't the smartest at math or reading or anything, and you realize you've failed her.

Then she is diagnosed with ADHD and your whole world falls apart as you blame yourself and cry in your closet because your perfect baby is imperfect and going to struggle and you can't do anything about that.

But then, because you do have a little superhero in you, you decide to do something about it. At the time of writing this, you don't know about your diagnosis. Daddy and I decided not to tell you just yet. Instead, I have read and taken notes, we've done countless math sheets and reading exercises, and your teachers have been stunningly supportive and helpful. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us, but we've come a long way.

This year was about more than just learning frustrations, though. You were baptized and got your ears pierced. You've taken on responsibilities like getting Gemma up and dressed and sometimes fed. Your reading has improved and my heart swells when I walk into your room in the morning to see you curled around your latest American Girl book. Our morning routine has gotten easier: I rarely have to remind you that you'll need to wear clothes to school.

You are a wonderful big sister. Your brother loves you and isn't afraid to show it. I wonder how much longer you'll let him wrap his arms around you in front of school and kiss you before you head off for third grade. Gemma thinks you're the best sister in the world. And, actually, you are for her. She waits by the front window each afternoon and the second you walk in the door is pestering you with, "Come play with me, Ains-wee! Play princess!" And you indulge her. You dress her up and style her hair and serve her "food." And when Gemma is sad or hurt, she runs to you where she knows you'll hug her and whisper reassurances in her ear.

You've started piano lessons and I think you're enjoying it. You're starting to really enjoy skiing. You are a friend to everyone at school and oblivious to any cattiness from the other girls. You run kind of weird, but that's part of your charm. You love to spend time with us as a family, and I love having you around.

This year was hard, but only because I realized I will sometimes fail you. I want to think that you will always be able to count on me and that I can rescue you from anything. But this year I learned you're going to have to do some of (or, as it turns out, MOST of) your own growing. And that's ok. No, it's GOOD. Because that's how we learn. And improve.

You're not perfect (but who is?). And I'm not the perfect mom. But this year put the spotlight on a simple truth: You are perfect for me. Together, we are going to do wonderful things.



Lisa said...

Jerk, you made me cry.


Shira said...

Oh, waterworks for sure. Beautiful.