Dear Daughter #1,
I’m sorry. I really am. I’m sure you have noticed that your father and I do not exactly know what we’re doing. That we figure everything out on you, our lovely, gracious guinea pig.
You see, you are our learner child. We’re feeling our way along, using you as our test case. We make our biggest mistakes with you and on you and then have some idea how to get things right with your younger sister.
I’m particularly sorry for…
- Being so mean to you about potty training. I’m sorry I yelled. (A recurring theme…see #2, below. Also #3.) There’s no excuse for it. But I will say that your grandmother was breathing down my neck, repeating her story to me of how “when we trained you, we just took you into the bathroom on a Sunday afternoon, waited until you did something, got all excited about it, gave you some M&Ms, and that was the end of it.” Honestly, I just cracked under the pressure. I should have introduced the idea of potty training to you, given you the necessary tools, and then backed off and left you alone to do what you did: got ready when you were ready, announced your intentions to your father and me, and never looked back. [Tweet “I’m sorry I yelled. (A recurring theme…see #2, below. Also #3.) #imperfectmom”]
- Yelling about that lost Dora the Explorer miniature doll that went with the swimming pool. And for yelling about all the other lost stuff. And for yelling too much in general. I’m sorry I didn’t even know about (much less imitate) this standard from Job 4:4 ~ “Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.” And yes, I am painfully aware that on my current mom report card, this is an area that “still needs improvement.”
- Losing my patience when you were learning to count. I know: I should have quit hammering at you about “twenty-nine, twenty-ten.” I’m sorry I didn’t follow this example from Deuteronomy 32:2 ~ “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” I know you would have figured it out sooner or later. Probably sooner. Probably ten minutes after I quit yelling at you about it.
- Thinking that every decision about your life was an all-right or all-wrong deal. It started with the big question of whether to send you to kindergarten when you had just turned five or to wait a year. Your dad and I were so sure one choice would make you the smartest, happiest kid on the planet, and the other would RUIN YOUR LIFE. It only took us 10 years to realize we just needed to do what seemed most right at the time and make the best of it. We absolutely, positively promise to remember this now that you’re starting to think about college. Absolutely. Promise.
- Letting you take on too much when it was our job to protect you. Allowing (encouraging, even) you to sign up for three killer required classes, plus a killer elective, plus full-on band, plus five dance classes a week in the same semester. Your father and I forgot you had other things to do. Like eat and sleep. You’re just so capable and organized that we figured, “How hard can it be for her?” Too hard, as it turned out. We should have sought some wisdom from other parents who’d already been down that road. We’re sorry—but we’re also incredibly proud of how well you did.
Thank you for being kind and forgiving while your rookie parents figured all this out. Thank you for patiently allowing us to demonstrate oh-so-well the truth of Jesus’ words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ”
[Tweet “Thank you for being kind and forgiving while your rookie parents figured all this out. #imperfectmom”]
If it’s any consolation, we’ve also messed up plenty with your younger sister, too.
And there is no mistake about this: we adore you, and we’re crazy about you.
P.S. I promise to keep working on that yelling thing.
[Tweet “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. #imperfectmom”]
About the Author: Elizabeth Spencer is wife to a very forgiving husband, mom to one tween and one teen daughter, and keeper of a 100-year-old farmhouse in need of 100 years’ worth of work. Besides volunteering as a public school/band mom, she facilitates women’s Bible study, bangs on the congas as part her church’s worship team, and plays the piano badly. By further way of apology to her eldest child, she recently posted “8 Things Moms of Young Daughters Have to Look Forward To (Really!)” on her blog, Guilty Chocoholic Mama. Also find Elizabeth on Facebook, Google+ & Pinterest.
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