Dear Firstborn, It's Okay To Fail

by Jess Johnston
Originally Published: 
Jess Johnston in a turtleneck and sunglasses semi-hugging her child whilst holding a drink on the be...
Jess Johnston

Dear Firstborn,

It’s okay to fail, and to fail again and again and again.

There’s something special about my bond with you. It isn’t better or more important; it’s just different. You were the beginning of my awakening, the step through the portal that is motherhood. Your becoming was my becoming. The day you were born I said goodbye to one life and ran with open arms into the next.

I can still picture you cradled in my arms. I stared at your tiny face in disbelief. How was I going to give you, this precious human, the childhood you deserved? I still haven’t figured that out. Every day, I make beautiful things and I make messes, too, but there’s never been a calling more worthy of my everything than you.

Here are a few things I want you to know:

There’s nowhere you could go, no one you could become, nothing you could do, that would make me stop loving you. It isn’t possible. My heart is always and forever yours, no matter what. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t need to deserve it. It’s yours.

I hope you take care of it, I hope you love me back, but even if you don’t, I am here like a statue planted in stone. There’s nothing you could do to change that my son, nothing.

Just because I’m in charge doesn’t mean I get it right. I’ve probably misread situations hundreds of times. I’ve probably said the wrong thing a thousand. I do my best, but my words are not the be-all, end-all. I hope that I can give you wisdom, but I also want you to think for yourself. At the end of the day, what I want you to know is I love you, you are enough, and you have what it takes — everything else can fall by the wayside.

We have been too hard on you at times, forgetting how young you are and expecting more of you than we should have. I’m so, so sorry, my son. Mistakes are an important part of your becoming, and you are allowed to make them. I see you being too hard on yourself too. You strive to follow the rules, never get in trouble, be on time, and do all your homework. Those are good things, but here’s what I want you to know:

You are allowed to fail. As much and as often as you need.

We are never going anywhere.

Jess Johnston

Sometimes I project myself onto you. I see so much of me in your eyes, in the way you stress about things, and in the way you are thoughtful toward your friends. If I ever define you in a way that doesn’t feel right, it’s me who’s wrong, not you. You need to be whoever you are on the inside. Let the fire burn bright, my son, and don’t ever try to fit into a box that I, or anyone else, put on you.

Don’t grow up too quickly. It’s okay to stay small. It’s okay to not know the things you don’t know. Be a kid as long as you can be, my son. There’s plenty of time to be an adult. Don’t rush the process.

I hope we can be friends forever. Yes, I’m your mom, and that often requires teaching, leading, and guiding, but I also hope that our friendship and mutual respect never stops. I hope that we go on long walks forever and talk about anything and everything that makes your heart sing.

I will be safe for you to talk to me about anything and everything. I will not judge you, I will not jump to conclusions, and I’ll never share your secrets.

I am proud of you. So very, very endlessly proud of you, and nothing you could ever do will change that. I am your biggest fan. I’m proud of you when you win and proud of you when you lose.

You are the best awakening I’ve ever had. When I look back at the first day I held you in my arms, I see it is the beginning of everything. I am so, so grateful.

I love you. We will win, and we will fail, and we will do it all together.



Jess Johnston

This post originally appeared on Wonderoak.

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