I had the best of intentions when I started the 30-day Letter Writing Challenge. How hard could it be to write a letter a day for 30 days? Evidently, pretty hard. Not only does my extremely packed schedule get in the way of keeping up with any of my writing, the actual writing of those letters can be emotionally draining. In keeping with the tradition of resolutions in the new year, I resolve to finish what I started. Today’s letter is the 13th in the series, and is written to someone I wish could forgive me. I am writing this letter to my 10-year-old son.
You are the one person in my world that I most need forgiveness from. You may not consciously be aware of the consequences all of my actions throughout your decade-long life have wrought upon you, but I ask you to forgive me now for all of the hours you will spend in therapy later in life. More specifically, I ask you to forgive me for all of the following and more.
Sweetheart, forgive me for not always giving you everything you ask for. I do everything in my power to give you everything you need, often foregoing many of my own needs or wants in the process. Forgive me also for constantly reminding you to be grateful that you do have what you need—there are so many that go without even the basic necessities in life, and you, my dear, have ever so much more than that. We are not wealthy. We are not even “well off.” But we are rich in our love and we have an abundance of the basics.
Forgive me for not always having the energy to entertain you constantly. I started trying to conceive you late in life and it took a while before you decided to set up housekeeping in my womb (three years, to be exact). At 46, I am a big fan of naps and I need to read to decompress. While I am happy to join you in a board game, a session of Rock Band, shooting hoops over at the school, or an outing to the park, I think it is important that you learn to entertain yourself as well. We all need time to be alone with ourselves and comfortable in that aloneness. If you can do that and do it well, you shall always be able to rely on yourself for companionship as you grow older and can never complain of “having nothing to do.”
Forgive me for passing my migraines along to you. I know you understand that I suffer from them frequently and you are so good about letting me take time out to recover. It is one thing that I’ve had to live with them since I was barely older than you are now, it is quite another to know that you’ve inherited that particular bit of nastiness from me. When I pick you up at school and your eyes are black, your face drained of color, and you lay down upon the seat as I drive you home, I know we are in for a long night. Stroking your hair as you dry heave over the toilet and then sleep the sleep of the dead, I curse the pain you are forced to endure at such a young age.
Forgive me for snapping at you sometimes (and yes, sometimes it feels like I’m always snapping). I do lose my patience. I hear myself when I am harsh and it hurts my ears as much as it hurts your feelings. Please understand that it is extremely annoying when you holler my name two dozen times from your bedroom because you are just too lazy to get up and get a glass of water on your own. It grates on my nerves when you ignore me whenever I ask you to do something (like put your toys away or pick up your dirty socks), but want to begin a heartfelt conversation the second I get on the phone with a client or good friend that I haven’t spoken to in weeks. I hate repeating myself and sometimes I feel like a total shrew when I just lose it and start yelling…but yes, sometimes I lose it and just start yelling. Forgive me. Someday when you have kids, you’ll get it.
Forgive me for not being able to give you the baby brother you’ve always wanted. Having you almost killed both of us. I never meant for you to be an only child and would love to have had another baby after you were born. It wasn’t meant to be. Physically, financially, or emotionally. We’ve been on our own (relatively speaking) for many years now. People have drifted in and out of our lives, but when the chips were down, it’s always been you and me, kid. I’m too old and tired to take on the responsibility of another child (especially a younger boy) at this point in my life. When you get a bit older, I encourage you to get involved in the Big Brothers program. Maybe you can provide another only child the opportunity to have an older, wiser, much cooler guy to hang out with.
I know there are many other things that I need to ask your forgiveness of, and they often creep up on me in the wee hours of the night when sleep evades me and my shortcomings surround me with taunts and jabs. I do want to ask you a big favor, however, and that does have to do with those that I’ve let into your life from time to time. I haven’t always made the best choices. You need to remember that parents are only human, and humans are fragile and often stupid creatures that think with their hearts and act from the gut. My instincts have often been wrong and for many years I was very, very selfish. I reached out when I was scared and lonely and latched on to the first person I thought would fill the hole in my heart and could help me make it through each day. I didn’t know enough to realize that only I could fix that which was intrinsically wrong with me, and that in the end, you were all I needed to think about while putting one foot slowly in front of the other. I know you bonded with people that abandoned you. I know you have a difficult time trusting. I know it has taken you a long time to get to the place you are now—a place of comfort, of openness, of happiness, of joy, and of peace with yourself and with me. You are wise beyond your years and you’ve experienced far more than any child your age should ever have to go through. Forgive me for ever giving you the impression that I was so weak that you needed to take control and parent me. I may not always seem entirely on the ball, bug, but I do my best. I will always be here to take care of you and I will do my best never to let you down.
I love you beyond words.