You are, each and every one of you, unique unto yourselves. I have loved you since the moment I first learned of your existence. I will cease loving you when I cease breathing and even then I would hope you remember being loved by me.
We have learned together over the course of our relationship and we have grown in ways which have been a surprise and which you will only fully understand when you have finished raising your children of today to be the adults of tomorrow. You will get there. So will your children. "My word of honor as a lady!"
(Paul stop snickering - I happen to know your momma raised you better) It will not happen over night but it will happen.
I have always been your greatest cheerleader. So long as I continue to breathe I will be here to offer advice, listen, be a sounding board, metaphorically shake some sense into you, love you and support you.
I sit here this afternoon looking at the after-effects of one of you having a temper tantrum wondering about both of us. I am wondering how I managed to clip your wings when I intended to set you free. I am wondering when it happened. I am wondering what I failed to teach you... or I was until I had a good long think.
You see, there is something I failed to teach you, something I failed to tell you, something I failed to make sure you knew to your soul. What was that all-important thing?
Sweetheart, I will always be your mother but my approval is not a necessity -- it is merely a leftover from childhood. When you were a child my approval was a necessity because I was responsible for your health, safety and welfare. I was also ultimately responsible for the legal consequences of your actions. You are an adult now. I have taught you to make sound decisions. MAKE them. Do not ask for my approval, whether or not I approve is immaterial. Regardless of my personal feelings of approval or disapproval, you have my support and that is far more valuable than whether I approve of your actions or not.
Son, I love you. You will understand just how much I love you in a few days when your own child arrives. You will look into the eyes of a tiny, helpless being who will depend on you for everything and you will suddenly KNOW the depth and bredth of my love for you and your siblings. You will understand what it is to be a parent and you will spend a significant portion of your life going forward teaching your child to BE an ADULT. You see, as you will soon find out, the job of a parent is NOT to raise a child but rather to raise an adult.
I have a couple of pieces of advice to pass along to you - just as I passed them along to your siblings on the occasion of their becoming parents.
LET that little angel be a child as long as he or she can possibly be but do not treat him or her like a baby beyond infanthood. Neither society nor your child will thank you for keeping your child in a perpetual state of infancy.
RESPOND when your child cries. Babies have no other way of letting you know they are unhappy, bored, wet, hungry, dirty, or anything else other than to cry. The faster you respond to those cries the more secure and emotionally healthy your child will be.
GROW with your child. It is all very well and good to "remember when"... it is much better to look at them and know how far they have come -- even when they are taking those first tentative (and frightening to a parent) steps into being adults.
GIVE YOURSELF a break. There has never been a "perfect" parent as far as I know of and mistakes will be made. Don't beat yourself up over them, life does not come with either a "rewind button" nor a "reset button." You will waste precious time and energy if you beat yourself up over the little things. You will shoulder a whole lot of "parent guilt" over the big things before your child is grown. "Water off a duck's back" is best for the little things.
DO tell me if your child is allergic to something or is on medication which might interact with food or drinks I may give them. I'd rather NOT have to take your child to the emergency room - it was a pain in the arse when I was taking YOU to the emergency room and I am pretty sure it hasn't changed much in the years since I took you there.
I'm pretty sure I have been using carseats since your Uncle Steve was born 40 years ago this week. I do not need to be reminded to use a carseat when I take my grandchildren somewhere but if it makes you feel more secure to remind me, you come ahead on and remind me
(and I will go ahead and laugh at you for being a doofus).
DO NOT ask me to get up at 0300 to feed your child. You are on your own there. My happy ass is going to SLEEP THROUGH middle of the night feedings. I will cuddle, snuggle, love unconditionally, spoil and tease your child during "normal grandma hours" but there isn't enough money on the planet to get my ass outta bed in the middle of the night unless there's blood, broken bones or the police involved.
Remember always, I love YOU as much as YOU love that little being who is about to change your life forever in ways you cannot yet imagine. Give your child what he or she needs to succeed in this world and then, just as I am doing with you, give him or her wings to fly.