A letter to my babies,

I don’t know how my heart can hold so much love. It aches for you both. Tonight as we all snuggled in bed together I wanted to stop time. You both love me so much and just want to always be with mama. I’m your whole world.

What a privilege.

I’m scared to lose that.

I want to hold onto these days forever. We’re past the days where a kiss can fix a boo-boo. We’re now at the stage where we talk about feelings, and I can help you work through problems and emotions. I’m teaching you to identify your feelings, to speak up for yourself and let someone know how their actions made you feel.

I’m teaching you not to say it’s OK when someone apologizes but instead to say thank you for saying sorry. That’s more powerful.

My son, I’m teaching you it’s OK to cry. I tell you to let it out and am desperately trying to stamp it in your brain and in your heart that crying is allowedit’s normal. I have to make sure you understand you can express your emotions before the world starts bombarding you with messages that a boy, a man must be stoic and unfeeling. That is a lie that will unnecessarily burden you. Never be ashamed to have feelings. Never be ashamed to express your feelings.

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My daughter, I have to drive it into your very soul that you are strong and brave, smart and kind. You are not defined by your physical appearance. You have a voice and an opinion, and you should never feel like you have to hide either of those. Do not compromise yourself or your values for anyone.

My son, you are emotional like your mama. You feel things. You have empathy for strangers. Your heart is big, and I know you will do great things in this world. Do not confuse great things with big things. Great things can be small but can change someone’s life. You will touch many lives with your kind heart and generosity.

I’m already proud of the character I see developing in you.

My daughter, you are uniquely you. You wanted to wear a ballerina leotard with a princess tiara and black boots for your birthday outfit ,  and I said yes. You insisted on wearing your Easter dress during COVID when the only place we were going was in the cul de sac to play. You didn’t care that we weren’t really going anywhere. You loved that dress and felt good in it. That was enough. I hope you never lose your individualism and your ability to not care about other people’s opinions of you.

To both my babies, you CAN do hard things. You will have to believe in yourself even when nobody else does. You will have to pick yourself back up. You will have to trust your gut and listen to your heart. Hard things will always show up. You will need to build resiliency and mental strength. Do this by tackling small challenges first and build on that momentum.

I’m having you both practice now.

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My daughter, when you want to walk high up on the ledge or jump down from the big rocks, I encourage you. I hold your hand if you need it. I heard you whisper to yourself I am brave, I am strong, and I knew then that you’re listening to me. What I’m saying to you is getting embedded in your psyche.

I’m planting those seeds and watching them take root and grow. It’s beautiful.

My son, when you wanted to jump in the cold pool in the middle of November, I said yes and jumped with you. I showed you that you CAN do it. And then weeks later, you jumped by yourself. You didn’t need my hand.

These are small examples, yes, but you’re both still little. These baby steps are your building blocks to prepare you for when life comes at you hard.

And it will, my babies.

I won’t be able to protect you from everything. And that is what I must struggle with. Every instinct I have is to take care of you in every way. But even if I could, it would not serve you. It wouldn’t allow you to grow and step into the person you should become.

So I’m trying every day to teach you something. And at the same time, teach myself to enjoy every minute, to live in the present with you because time goes too fast and I will miss this.

So goodnight my babies.

Sleep well.

Tomorrow will be a new lesson.

Originally published on Medium

Lisa Kalkes

Lisa Kalkes is a FT working mom, wife, Veteran, and lover of 90's hip-hop and R&B. Her pastimes include playing with her two children, reading, and working out at Orange Theory Fitness.