As your now 24-year-old adult daughter I wanted to write you a letter about all of the great things you did for us as kids. You are on to your next stage in life and you may look back sometimes to wonder what was worth it – what actually mattered. And to be honest, some of it didn’t! So I thought I would include some of those too!
What did matter – the special Santa Claus handwriting and special wrapping paper on Christmas morning. You really gave us a run for our money – the special wrapping paper made us question everything. You made Christmas morning so special and exciting. Now every night on Christmas Eve I still think about you staying up late for us. I can’t wait to do this for my future kids.
What didn’t matter – the gifts that were in them. Although some special toys stood the test of time and remain beloved, the best toys were the ones we could share with each other and play for hours. That $4 Santa blowing gum flavored bubbles tops a limited edition Barbie any day.
What didn’t matter – that trip to Disney World. It never seemed like our little brother would ever be tall enough and us girls still hold a lot of resentment about that, kidding. Now knowing the costs and thinking about taking a family of 6 on that dream vacation seems unimaginable. Going now with all of us as adults was just as fun – and kids don’t get to drink beer at Epcot!
What did matter – the trips to the thrift store. My eclectic house and wallet thank you!
What did matter – letting us make a mess. From dumping the 3 gallon tote of Legos on the living room floor to finger painting to summer science experiments, you were always game. Thank you for letting us make a mess, learn, and for making a mess with us.
What didn’t matter – a spotless house. As we got older you were more vocal about how disappointed you would be in your sometimes unorganized house. I know that feeling now as an adult and how you sometimes feel inadequate and an overall general hot mess. I wouldn’t give up a second of our childhood craziness for a Better-Homes-And-Gardens spread any day.
What didn’t matter – your beloved 2000 champagne Chrysler Town & Country. I don’t think I remember anything but the color but I do remember how excited you were to get it. Being an adult now I can tell you buying cars and houses and other super expensive things can be daunting and overwhelming. You constantly find yourself in the spiral of envy and jealousy. You and dad could have driven us around in a beater and our childhood would have been just as amazing and I need to keep that in mind.
What did matter – The 2000 Dodge Stratus that we called “The Beast.” The character that was built by driving that silver monstrosity has stayed with me to this day. From the broken door handles, to the Walmart CD player, to the extra special squealing noise that came forth just as you were driving out of the high school parking lot gave me that extra dose of humbleness I cling to some days.
What did matter – teaching us to clean. No this isn’t a stance for or against a woman’s role in the home. It is literally about how to clean your house – man or woman. Now I (and my college roommates) will admit that I wasn’t always the cleanest but any time you said you were headed our way I knew how to get the job done. At our current house we can go from complete chaos to realtor-ready in about 45 minutes. My husband calls this one of my special skills.
What didn’t matter – teaching us French or any other trendy skill for toddlers. For all those times you still kick yourself for us not being fluent in a second language or not having a doctorate, just lean on the fact that we damn well know how to scrub a toilet.
What did matter – the work done in the classroom. The expectations you and dad held for us in school is one of the most impactful things you could have ever done for us. You were always there to help us with homework and at every single parent-teacher-conference holding us accountable. It helped me become a good college student, an employee, and overall adult.
What didn’t matter – the made-from-scratch classroom cupcakes. Kid’s like store bought just as much if not more.
What didn’t matter – being friends with the cool kids. Out of all of your four children I think I take the cake when it comes to girl drama and tears shed.
What did matter – being right about life going on. You were right all those times when I had hurt feelings, made a mistake, or just got the short end of the stick. Life moves on and you make new friends. Friends that will last a lifetime. And when I did make those new friends I cherished them even more.
What did matter – being on us about drinking. A sincere thank you for not being “the cool parents.” Thank you for not letting us make adult decisions with teenage brains. Thank you for holding us accountable. You and dad put what we now refer to as “the fear of God” in us and I now understand how un-fun that probably was.
What also did matter – all the beer you didn’t drink. I remember as a kid that annual weekend in September when your friends and their families would come over for a Husker game and that “special blue pop” would show up in the fridge that we were afraid to even make eye contact with. It was “special” because it was normally never there. Being an adult now I can see how you both made a concerted effort to lead by example and I thank you for that.
What didn’t matter – early morning softball games. All those softball games, our records, our form never mattered really at all. Us girls will be forever thankful for the time and money you dedicated to coaching us for many years. But what really stays with me as an adult is the girls who didn’t have parents like mine. Whenever they needed a ride, an extra pair of cleats, or even a meal you never hesitated to help. That is what mattered the most.
What did matter – the late nights you stayed up. Whether we were sick, at an event, or you didn’t actually know where we were, we always knew you cared. You were there to take care of us, hold us when we cried, or hold us accountable for our actions. You made us your priority and we felt it, we knew it, and it mattered.
Thank you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.