Dear Charlie, Molly, Henry and William:
Thank you. Thank you all for being the best kids that a mom could wish for.
We have been through a lot in the past few years, and I'm not going to lie and say that it's been fun. You have all seen me at my very worst as I have tried to fix things for us, and for that I'm sorry. But I hope that you've also noticed me at my best...I hope that I have been teaching you how to put things back together again after a great fall. I have been showing you all that you should never give up, never back down and never stop reaching for better things in life.
I find myself in a sad little spot right now. I'm sad because it's back to school season and once again we are stretching every penny we have just to make sure that we have the essentials. Thank you all for not complaining about the lack of new clothes. And thank you all for not uttering a peep of indignation when I declared that we would be re-using many of last year's leftover school supplies. Molly and Henry, thank you both for not giving me grief when I decided that we'd buy the pre-made binders at the junior high instead of stumbling around OfficeMax and piecing them together ourselves. We saved valuable time and even more valuable money this way, and I think you both knew that.
Molly, I remember my junior high days and how I'd pout and bitch and moan if my mom couldn't buy me the piles of new clothes and shoes and accessories that I wanted every September, and that shames me now. Because now I know how she must have felt: the frustration, the embarrassment, the grief over not being able to wave a magic wand and produce everything my kids want at any particular moment. I hated myself for cringing over a measly $70.00 spent at Old Navy so you, my dear Molly, could have a few new things for 9th grade. But it's our truth, our reality. And I can't thank you, my dear girl, enough for not giving me crap about it. You are stronger now, at the age of 14, than I will probably ever be.
Charlie, you are 16 now and starting your junior year of high school. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being "ok" with the fact that driver's ed isn't on our list of things we can do right now. I also want you to know that I am so proud of you for manning up and helping so much at home. I never wanted to make you the "man of the house", that isn't fair to you, but you have taken on a little bit of that role on your own and done a damn fine job. Your help has made things easier for me, and for that I thank you.
Henry, you and I had a talk last night, and I apologized to you for your lack of new clothes. You said, "That's ok, I have a bunch of t-shirts that Sue just gave us (Sue is our neighbor, she is the maker of the fattening Special K bars and the giver of hand-me-downs), I'll just wear those!". Thank you for your optimism, your "half full" attitude and for recognizing the goodness of others. You are going to rock those t-shirts, my good little man.
And William, my baby. Thank you for understanding that not everything on your list of 5th grade supplies has to be shiny and new. A recycled pencil box, recycled colored pencils, scissors with one kid's name crossed off and your initials written over them, they will all work just as well as new ones would. You blow me away with your pure acceptance of just about everything. When we were at Old Navy with Molly, you entertained yourself by picking out jeans in the Boy's section, but when I said that we had plenty of jeans in your size at home, you just shrugged and put them back.
My children, back in the day when things were different, when you had a set of parents at home instead of just one, we had it good. We'd go to Target and Gap Kids and the malls and buy bags and bags of new "stuff". New backpacks, shoes, clothes...it was fun. But I think the past couple of years, these lean years, will teach us more than those bygone days ever could. We are all learning to accept what we have. We are learning to make do. We are learning what Dick Enrico has been preaching for years: Why buy new when slightly used will do?
I have always made it a point to remind you guys that we have so much, even when it seems like we have nothing. My point seems to have been taken.
Thank you for listening, my sweet babies. I know you won't see this little open letter, but I wanted to put it out there how proud I am of you. All of you.