My sweet girls,
You are 20 months and 6 weeks old now, and the choices we are making as parents are tested almost every minute of the day. Since these choices have been on my mind and heart so often, I wanted to share them with you and reaffirm them for myself:
To give you an unhurried childhood.
I promise to fight the urge to overbook you or us. There are lifetimes full of experiences I’m aching to share with you, but I vow to give you time and space to explore your life. To take walks with no destination. To nap just a little longer. To read your favorite book for the tenth consecutive time. To spend hours at the dinner table as you rearrange your food until it’s just right to eat.
To give you a peaceful childhood.
I vow to keep clutter out of our lives. To keep the TV off. To give you only toys that require interaction and imagination. I will not overwhelm you with stimuli that distract and confuse you. I promise a calm home with as few boundaries as I can get away with so you have room to explore, imagine, and create.
To give you an adventurous childhood.
We will travel. A lot. I promise to show you places that I have only dreamed of so far. We will expose you to different languages, people, and environments. We will spend entire days outside experiencing nature. I will never worry about dirty clothes or hands or faces. They are the best signifiers of a grand explorer.
To give you an imaginative childhood.
I promise to provide you both with as many books and as much time as you need to explore and learn. To use literature to spark your imagination and teach you to care for and love all of creation. I vow to show you works of art, beautifully crafted sentences, and carefully imagined worlds and to one day teach you to read so you can discover them yourself.
To give you a loving childhood.
We will love you every second of every day. Not in an abstract sense, but in a real, sometimes difficult, way. We will choose to be patient when we’re at what we thought was the end of our patience. We will choose to comfort you when we’re hurried and it’s inconvenient. We will correct you and shower you with affection. We will try our hardest to be examples of love. To love each other well and forgive constantly. To be aware of and overcome our prejudices so we don’t pass them to you. To give love freely whether or not we think it is deserved.
To give you a conscious childhood.
I promise to show you how to give. Of your talents, your time, and your resources. We will serve others regularly and make giving back a normal part of your life. You will grow up understanding that there is a universe outside of yourself, your family, and your community, and you will have the empathy and knowledge to affect that universe.
To give you a faith-filled childhood.
We will raise you to love the creator of the universe and share the stories that define who we are and who Love is. We will surround you with the community of the church and the richness of the mass. We will celebrate the true meaning of holidays and use them as peaceful times to reflect on the incredible gifts we’ve received and to find ways to connect with others in our family and community. We will pray daily as individuals and as a family. We will ask for and find grace in each day.
This is the life we get to share as a family; why not make it extraordinary?
I wrote this letter in January, 2015, shortly after Emma was born.