We Are Your Parents And We Will F*ck You Up

by Liz Henry
Originally Published: 
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Dear Kid,

Today you’re 8. Before you hit 10 and then 13 (and, you know, hate me), I thought it would be a good idea to tell you how much I love you.

Before I had you, I was ambivalent about children. Yes, I know this isn’t the best place to start, but hear me out because it goes from meh to mush in 30 seconds.

Becoming a mother was something I, quite frankly, did not think about. I met your father and didn’t even consider dating him. Then, he made me pancakes, and I said to myself not every guy 1) listens, 2) makes pancakes, 3) has dimples, 4) likes you, so I fell in love and two years later, there you were.

You are, without a doubt, the sum of your father and me. On the surface, that’s not saying much, but for us it says everything. You are incredibly sensitive and loyal, funny and kind, brilliant and artistic, beautiful and chubby, athletic and determined.

As young parents, we were scared. How did a baby fit into our early 20s, how did we fit together, and how could we provide you with the encouragement, love, and support we lacked from our own parents. Obviously you know that we often fail and let you down, but it’s not because we don’t love you. We fail because we are your parents and because we are incredibly screwed up.

Like that time when dad told you Jesus was more like a zombie than the son of God. I know you hated him a little that day. It’s okay. Sometimes he pisses me off, too. Actually, a lot of the time. Like on Valentine’s Day, when he handed me an iTunes gift card as my gift. Or, when he leaves one glass — yes, one glass — in the sink after I just got done washing dishes (by hand) for the fifth time in an hour.

Or, how about the time we went to New York City on a Girl Scout trip and I yelled at you in front of your friends, grabbed your hand, and made you walk around with me like you were 3. I know that must have sucked. But we were at the Statue of Liberty, and I couldn’t find you. I know you remember because you tell me about it all the time. Which is really your way of getting back at me. Gnarly guilt bomb.

We are your parents, and we will fuck you up.

We will:

+ hurt you

+ make you cry + disappoint you + not give you everything you want + probably not pay for college + continue to push vegetables + yell + shut off the TV + demand you toughen up + need you to change our Depends + fail spectacularly at being mature

Your father and I are not venture capitalists, we’re dreamers. Because we dream big, we have a small bank account. Money and love are completely different, and we hope to have raised you well enough to know said difference. Only fools combine the two.

We believe that stating the obvious upfront — a contract of our failings — will soften the blow when you become an adult and seek therapy.

However, I want to be absolutely clear: We are your fiercest supporters, loudest cheerleaders, and number one fans. We are your parents, your advocates, and ambassadors. You can tell us anything, and we will love you unconditionally. We will never shame you or make you question your worth. We will help guide you through cruel unfairness and unburdened privilege. You are our daughter, a symbol of our love and passion, commitment and intention.

We intend to lighten your load, push you when the road is less traveled, make your dreams opportunities, and inspire imagination.

On your first day of your eighth year, we are just as in love with you as the first minute of your first day. We are proud of you, humbled by your grace, and in awe that you love us. You are his Rock Star and my Peanut. You are our biggest dream. Live wildly and carefree — take nothing for granted, shit from no one, and be everything that you seek.

We love you,

Mom & Dad

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