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Dear Judah: 3.5 Years Old

March 23, 2014

My grandmother recently asked me why I hadn’t written you a letter for your third birthday.  At this point, you are nearly 3 ½ and before I know it, she’ll be nudging me at your fourth birthday wanting to see the goods. Frankly, I don’t have a good reason.  You being three has given me plenty of material, heartburn and joy.  But some of my favorite moments of writing to you, has been talking about the wisdom I’ve gained from being your mother.  So maybe I haven’t written because you being three has robbed me of all parental confidence.

In truth, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.

The further we have moved into this age, the more I’ve realized just how powerless I am to you and the things you feel.  For the last few months I’ve been really really bad at this.  You scream, I shout.  You cry, I shut the door.  You hit, and I just NEED TO BE ALONE!   And everyone keeps telling me the only reason I’m able to maintain senility is due to your cuteness in between.

And I’m not sure that’s true.

It might be the guilt of worrying I’ve screwed it up so irreveracably the day before, I become determined to do better the next.  It’s a cycle that’s been getting me out of bed for the last almost 180 days.

I don’t want to sound so dramatic in saying being a mother to a 3 year old is too hard.  But damn.  It’s hard.

Bedtime is hard.  Mornings are hard.  Potty training is hard.  It’s hard when you are hungry and sleepy and hyper.  It’s hard when you wake up in the middle of the night and point a flashlight directly into my sleeping eyes.  It’s hard when you get so mad you pull a dresser and 32” TV down on top of yourself, just to prove a point.  It’s hard when you are fed up with rules and make up your own.  It’s hard when you insist I’m not allowed to use words like “later” or “tomorrow” or “maybe”.

But let me tell you when it’s good.  It’s good when I curl up into your teeny tiny bed and we make up songs about made up words.  It’s good when you catch my eye in the rearview mirror and tell me you love me with a coy smile.  It’s good when you see me in the school parking lot and wave with so much raw excitement.  It’s good when you ask for carrots instead of crackers.  It’s good when you tell me new things about God.  It’s good when you announce it to be pajama time, in the middle of the day.  It’s good when you ask to be held like a baby after a bath.

Frankly, there are so many goods.  So many more goods than hards.  The hards just feel so heavy.

All through life, the hards will feel heavier than the goods.  It takes a strong spirit to judge them equally and let the goods outweigh.  The first time you experience the heartbreak of lost love, you’ll feel like all the good has been sucked out of the world.  The first time you are bullied or singled out in a negative way, those goods will be incredibly hard to feel.  But time teaches you things.  Eventually you’ll come to a point when you’ll realize the people who can’t see goods despite the hards, miss out on so much  love and opportunity and adventure.

I want you to grow into a person who chooses good.  Who sees hard and knows it will be defeated or forgotten soon enough.  You have that power inside of you.  You are so loved and that will win over a multitude of hards. Love always wins Judah.  So even if you’ve gone through that lost love, replace it.  Maybe not in the same way, but always find ways to love better and the hards will take their place in the correct order.

I’ll try to work hard and show you this.  I’ll pray for this.  We’ll practice it together.  Practice sounds like a funny word when talking about love, because it seems it should be a natural reaction.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Loving well is a habit worth practicing and perfecting over a lifetime.  Mistakes will be made and hurts will be caused sometimes in equal measure.  But love is definitely a practice.

In his book, Outliers, Malcom  Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to be successful in any practice.  What do you think it would look like to practice love for 10,000 hours?  And frankly, I’m not even sure that would be enough.  It’s a life of love practice from start to finish.  And even then we would be flawed.  But that’s not a good enough reason not to try.

I love you with so dearly with so many flaws. I prove it every day.  I wish that weren’t so, but it is.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and leave for work long before you start your day.  Before I walk out the door, I’ll stop by your room, pull up your blankets and kiss whatever exposed part of your face I can locate in total darkness.  I’ll silently apologize for the fight we had last night after the 12th time you came out of your room before finally falling asleep.  And I’ll swear to do better today.  Just like every day.  And I swear that I’ll mean it.  Just like I do, every day.

Because I’m practicing.

For the rest of my life.

I love you Judah.

-Your sassy momma.

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