Dear children,

Let me first say this: I love you more than anything in the world.

Remember that sentence because I know there are times where it doesn’t feel like I love you. I know I spend a lot of time yelling at you—way too much time, actually. I wish I didn’t do that. I’m trying to change. Every day I struggle to control my anger when you make naughty behavior choices, or when I’m frustrated because I forget that you are not an adult and you don’t act or think like one.

And every day I lose. 

I wish I were better because I love you and I want you to have the best mom I can be. 

I don’t like being frustrated and angry. That’s not how I treat other people, and it rips at my heart to know I treat strangers with more patience than I give you. 

I wish you could see the mom you don’t get to see after you’re asleep. I wish you knew I check in on you, and I watch you sleep peacefully. I wish you could hear the “I love you”s I whisper while you breathe deeply and I tuck the covers around you. I wish you could feel the pride emanating from me as I think of all your accomplishments that day.

I wish you knew the pain I feel when you talk about others who hurt your feelings. I hide that pain to show you strength while I help you understand, cope, and deal with those kids.

I wish you knew how I brag about you. I know it seems like I criticize often, but the truth is, you are amazing. You are thoughtful, empathetic, caring, and sensitive. I love that you show those qualities more than I can. You are smart and wonderful.

I wish you could see my pride when you keep trying even though something is hard and you want to give up. I know I show frustration when you reach this point, and I need to do better showing you how to cope with frustration, and showing my pride when you persevere through the struggle.

I wish most of all that I showed you the love you deserve to be shown. I feel it inside myself. It’s bursting forth but I don’t show it like I need to. Sometimes I feel it comes across as something else—annoyance, frustration, relief—when I say “I love you but . . . ” and tack on something else. I do love you. Period. Even when your behaviors are less than likeable. Even when I’m annoyed. Even when I’m tired and frustrated and want a vacation away from kids. Even when I’m on the computer or my phone. I love you more than anything.

Not only do I love you, but I need you. I need you to teach me how to be a better mother. It will make me a better person. Teach me how to show love without wondering what those around me are thinking. Teach me to find joy and excitement in the dreary “ordinary” of every day. Teach me to “just be” and to live in the moment. Teach me to find adventures in our living room. Teach me to be curious and inventive. Teach me how to leave stress behind and to enjoy these moments, THIS moment, with you.

Because I know someday, I will miss this. I will crave your hugs and kisses and “I love you, Mommy.” I will crave your attention. I will crave you hanging on my legs while I try to navigate the kitchen. I know if I don’t capitalize on it now, I may also lose out on a close relationship with you later.

I love you more than anything but I’m not perfect, and I’m not always comfortable showing affection, especially in public. Please, help me show my love for you through my words and actions. Please remind me to smile more, hug more, say “I love you” more, tickle, and laugh, and even cry with joy. Please help me be the mommy you deserve.

Love, Mommy

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.