Dear Third Child,
Please consider this an apology letter. I know it might sound odd, but I need to ask for your forgiveness on some things. It’s not you. It’s me.
You are the culmination of our family, and I had no idea how I would change and evolve as a parent once you came along. In some ways, I’m a better parent, but in some ways, I’ve gone downhill. Being more relaxed in this parenting gig has its disadvantages. So here is a list of things I’d like to apologize to you for at this point in your life.
…for continuing to tie your shoes, wipe your bottom, give you baths
I know that I should let go and let you do it, but it has become a habit. As your mom, I need to foster independence so that you can do these things on your own. I’ve never been great at teaching life skills. Perhaps that is connected to my whole, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” mentality. The next time you shout from the bathroom, “Mom! I need to be wiped!” I’m going to point to the toilet paper and walk away. The next time I am tempted to purchase shoes with velcro, I won’t take the easy way out, and I’ll buy the ones with laces. Finally, when you take a bath, I’ll throw you a washcloth. I might even squeeze soap on it. You can do this, son.
…for being too busy to read or play
With three kids, a husband, and a couple part-time jobs, it seems that any free time is spent doing laundry, dishes, or running errands. When I look back at the amount of time I spent reading to your siblings, I’m shocked and embarrassed. I did learning activities every day with your brother and sister to give them a head start that would launch them into Kindergarten. I also got down in the floor to play with them a lot more. Today I’m running around and checking off to-do lists because I am busier and more distracted by the day-to-day responsibilities. I pledge to start over and make reading and playing a bigger deal for you. The laundry and dishes can wait.
…for dragging you to everything under the sun
Again, because you are the youngest you are dragged to all of the activities that your siblings are involved in each week. I know that you don’t love basketball or softball, but you have to come anyway. Even getting you in the van each day to pick up your sibs from school can be a challenge. It means that I’m pulling you away from your bicycle or LEGO creations. This is life, and you have been a good sport. You used to nap in the car in pick up line, but now I’m flashing some sight words at you or attempting to chat with you about your day at preschool. Take heart, though, as this year I have had to drag your sibs to your gymnastics class. So there’s that.
…for clothing you in hand me downs
Sorry. Not sorry. I found a tub of your brother’s old clothing in the attic the other day that was 5T, and I was happier than I should have been. It made my day. Maybe my week. The thing about hand me downs is that it allows me to hold on to the past a little bit longer. Seeing you in your brother’s old shirts and pants gives me warm fuzzies. So does saving money. I did, however, buy you a new Easter outfit.
…for caving in and bending my rules
You are probably laughing at this one. Go ahead. I am sorry for bending the rules for you because it’s actually to your disadvantage. You get away with more than your sibs ever did. It’s not that I don’t care, but perhaps I care less than I used to way back when your sister and brother were your age. I’ve learned, and now I know that some of those things you do aren’t a big deal. I’ve decided which hills I’m going to die on, and there aren’t as many of those hills now. I know that you’re brother and sister see that I threaten and don’t always follow through with discipline for you. Perhaps I should write them apology letters next. I need to stand my ground on some things, so I’ll do better.
Your Imperfect and In Progress Mother
P.S. I’m not sorry, however, for lingering in your room a bit longer at bedtime or picking you up when you should walk or holding your little hand all the way to your classroom some mornings. Those things allow me to slow time down, if even for a couple minutes. It feels like I’m an author who is writing a book, but that last chapter is taking me longer to complete. The publish date is looming. Kindergarten is coming.
P.S.S. I love you.