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A Letter to My Children on April 20-ish, 2014

 April uh, 20-something. I have no idea. That’s what having kids does to you. Unless you want to give me grandchildren someday. Then, it’s a miracle that enriches your life forever, 2014

Dear Lucia (and Avram, in case I don’t get around to writing you your own letters, which may be the case as you’re my second and our fourth, and we’re just glad we haven’t left you at a highway rest stop yet),

I realized that over the last five years (or six, if you count the grueling pregnancy, which I do) I haven’t always taken the time to tell you my hopes for you, or teach you everything I thought I would about life. Mainly because after particularly deep, emotional interactions, you tell me things like, “Poop!” But I guess that as you grow older, there will be more things I need to teach you that you can suddenly understand, and even more things I have to teach you that won’t make any sense but you need to hear anyway.

My mother left me a letter in my baby book that I found many years after she died. After I had spent a childhood without her, wondering what she was like and why I didn’t get to be with her, it was powerful to read her hopes for me, and her love for me, in black and white. I realized I wouldn’t want her to be disappointed in me, which I can pretend she isn’t, but realistically I’m pretty sure she’d have some legitimate gripes if she were still around to witness my college major/career path/dating choices/parenting style. But since she can’t interrupt, and all I have is that letter, I can pretend that I am everything she ever wanted and that I have lived up to her expectations and dreams.

I guess I’m trying to say that I hope you never need to read these, that I’ve rubbed my love for you so deeply into your psyche that you feel like you have to move out right after college to get away from it. I hope I am around long enough to explain to you what it’s like to have geriatric sex while you pound tequila and pretend you don’t know me.

But life doesn’t come with guarantees, so I’ll write these so I don’t have to worry about wasting away of cancer without teaching you how to bake bagels or die in a fiery crash where my last thought is that I never told you how to keep your bike chain from rusting. Perhaps this is all about me, but I hope that it finds you when you most need it, preferably many decades down the line.

I love you more than words can say, although obviously I’m going to give it a shot, anyway. You are everything I ever wanted, and so, so much more than I had anticipated when I decided to have you. Your dad is just along for the ride. You have taught me so much—about love, sacrifice, humility, sleep deprivation, and bodily functions, and much more.

While I plan to outline what little wisdom I possess to impart to you, know that I only know it because of you. You are my greatest work(s), no pressure, and it has been a profound, terrifying experience watching you grow into the people you very clearly were born to be.

I believe in you. I hope all the hopes mothers have ever hoped for their children for you, but I also expect a lot, because you have so much opportunity hiding in you, like the spring in a jack-in-the-box. Of those to whom much has been given, much will be required. Or something deep like that—I’m too lazy to Google for the source/exact quote right now. I know you won’t disappoint me, because you never really could (unless you do drugs. Don’t do drugs.), but let’s not use that as an excuse to loaf around.

Your loving mother,