Mother of Invention commented on Love Letter to My Daughter Who Is Far Away at Christmas (below) that I probably wrote love letters to all my children. She was right. At some point in their lives, I have. Here is the one I wrote to my younger son at Christmastime seven years ago when his first child and my first grandchild was a newborn.
This is the first Christmas you will celebrate with your new daughter. And as it is my first Christmas as a grandmother, a Memeré, I wanted to give you both something from my heart.
When you were just a small boy you had a book called "Let Papa Sleep." No sooner would Papa Bunny lie down for a nap than Baby Bunny would beg for a pickle, a story, a drink of water, a game. You will discover as you spend the rest of your life being a father that there are things you will trade—naps for playtime, hot meals for emergencies, time alone for time spent with your children, business meetings for school plays, peaceful nights for nights of worry, toys you want for toys they want. There are some things I've learned as a parent that I would like to share. I offer here, as a gift to you, these things I've come to know from being your mother.
CHILDREN TEACH US ABOUT UNCONDITIONAL LOVE - Love without obligation, without judgment, without end—that is the kind of love children offer until they are taught differently by the world. Recognize it, revel in it, know that it will change but that it will never completely vanish. It will be the bedrock upon which you will build your relationship with your children, the look in their newborn eyes that says you are the most wonderful person in the world.
CHILDREN OFFER US A FRESH LOOK AT THE WORLD AND RENEW OUR DELIGHT IN SMALL THINGS - We develop blinders as we grow older. We say it is because we must be responsible adults or because we are too busy or that we have learned differently through our own experience. Children open our eyes to the possibilities inherent in life. They teach us about choices, about delight in the ordinary, making it extraordinary for us once again. They remind us to laugh with abandon, to play as though anything is possible, to weep as though the world was coming to an end then be elated to find that it didn’t.
CHILDREN GIVE US A SENSE OF SELF - We are defined by a number of things—by our families, our work, our communities, our heritage, our genetic make-up, our thoughts about ourselves, our reactions to the thoughts of others. Children hold up mirrors. We see ourselves reflected in their eyes, in their behavior, in their development. Your actions will speak louder than any words you ever say to your children. If you see yourself through the eyes of your child, you recognize the best aspects of yourself. Likewise, you will be made aware of those things that need changing.
CHILDREN TEACH US HOW TO LET GO - Nothing is harder, or more rewarding, than sending your child out into the world. You hurt with every hurt they endure, you glow with every triumph, you laugh and cry with a depth of feeling that will enrich you immeasurably if you let it. And when the time comes to let go, you realize that the bond you share does not disappear with their absence from your daily life. What a wonderful feeling it is to finally understand that, no matter how far they roam or how seldom you see them, there is no distance between you at all.
CHILDREN ENLARGE OUR BOUNDARIES - They will go places we have not gone, do things we have not done, and experience a life at once so familiar and yet so foreign to us that our eyes will open in wonder. If we give our children the same freedoms we would want for ourselves, the world becomes a boundless place filled with potential—theirs and ours.
CHILDREN ARE BOTH AN ANCHOR AND A SAIL - Every seaworthy craft has both. You may find times when you feel weighed down by the responsibility of being a parent, overwhelmed with the challenges that come with raising children, anchored to home and a way of life that can seem becalmed and stifling. But those same children will also be the sails on your life craft. They will catch the winds of hope, of new experience, of enchantment, and you will want to be sailing along behind, just in case they need you.
I can’t think of anything more wonderful than being a parent. You are one of the best gifts I ever received. May your children be the same for you. Merry Christmas, Ken!