Parenting: Give Yourself Grace

by Amy Hilbrich Davis

in Parenting


Best laid plans… the best of intentions– We all have them. Whether it be planning the ideal  vacation, birthday, or maybe even a night out with our husbands– we do our best, and then reality steps in and forces us to wake up and smell the java. We are tired and there’s nothing left for us to give .

There are lots of days when our time and energy can’t fuel the most well thought out, ingenious plan. And it’s on those days that we need to remember our priorities and what’s important to us.

Years ago I read a memoir about a woman who’s father wrote her a letter on every birthday, starting with the day she was born. That letter was excerpted in the Real Simple magazine and I literally wept when I read it. She talked about how she treasured her letters and considered them her most prized possession, especially now that her father had passed on.

Beautiful, huh? I thought so, too.  Feeling overwhelmed with inspiration, I did what any time-stressed, in over her head, mother would do… I decided to write every one of my kids a letter on their birthday— all seven of them. I was on a roll. The birthday letters would not just any letter, it would become the mother of all letters, showcasing the greatest hits of the prior year. I couldn’t wait to begin creating these priceless keepsakes.

Well, here’s how it played out.

I cranked out Evelyn’s ninth birthday letter. Feeling pretty proud, I wrote Charlotte’s fifth birthday one, even though I had the flu and couldn’t stand.  When Oliver’s came up just a few months later, I fell asleep in bed writing it and figured I’d make it up the following week (when it wasn’t so beat, ha). Needless to say, when Louisa was born I was still trying to finish Oliver’s and the whole experiment was falling apart by the time  all nine pounds and fourteen ounces of Anderson joined our family.

Oh well, I only can do what I can do. Some nights I lie awake the night before a birthday, exhausted by the day and think, “the letter, I need to write the letter!” Thankfully, I’ve  learned to give myself grace and I roll over and drift off to sleep thinking of all the things I do with the kids and the fun we have. I get over it.

I guess I’m satisfied with living in the present over  creating memories for their future (even though I wish I could do both).

One day I’ll have more time and energy for that–who knows, maybe  I’ll finish the kids’ baby books, maybe not.

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