For my Children.
Almost every time we go to the grocery store together, an older lady-a different woman every time, always a stranger-comes up to remind me that these are the best days of my life. These women always look a little surprised to be alone at the store after so many years of hauling babies, to be pushing a shopping cart without children hanging all over it, to be clutching a list with so little needed to make the meals, now that it is back to just her and her husband. They look at you guys wistfully and tell me that time passes so quickly.
I always assure them that I know. But of course I don't, not really.
Someday, when you are grown, I want you to know that I found every day with you precious. That I always knew in my heart that even when the road looked long, the days of you all being babies in my arms and on my lap and around my feet would be gone in a blink. I want you to know that I noticed. I noticed how fast a month went, and a year, and five years. That even when things were hard, and four of you were crying at once, I wanted to be exactly where I was.
I want you to know that sometimes things will be hard. That you may often wonder why life isn't easier than this. I do too. But doing hard things is what refines your character, buffs off the rough and selfish edges. I know that I still need a lot of refining, trust me.
I want you to know that it was always worth pushing the hundred pounds of double stroller up a mile of hill to get to a secluded lake.
There are moments that you won't get back. Take your chance to be there, all there, right now. You guys naturally do this. But I can forget.
Today we went to the lake, and you read me the sign. "Beach closed. No swimming." You were shocked when I let you put your feet in anyway. Sometimes you have to break the rules a little. After all, an Indian summer in childhood is fleeting, and the winter will be long. I know that, even if you don't yet.
One day, if you ever wonder why your Daddy and I wanted a big family, I want you to know that we were giving you a gift. The best and most lasting gift we could give you. That there is nothing that money could buy that will ever replace this in your life:
And because of the joy here. We had every single one of you because you made our lives full of joy. There are no choices that we could have made that would ever have been better than this.
By the time you are grown, I want you to have learned that happiness and joy are different. You may not always feel happy when you are scrubbing the carpet from yet another potty accident. There are times when you are all fussing that I feel more harried than happy, yes. Happiness can be a little selfish in its demands. But I hope you always felt the joy here, that you always saw in my eyes that you were precious.
Every day, at least one of you slips your hand into mine. You fight to sit on my lap. You call me imperiously in the middle of the night. You creep between us in bed. You trust me with your heart. I want you to know that I recognize that as the great gift that it is. Your Daddy and I know what it means to be rich, and it has nothing to do with money.
I want you to know that I genuinely liked you, not just loved you. That I liked spending all my time with you guys and your Daddy. That being together was my favorite thing.
I don't need to be reminded that these are the best days of my life. I already know.