This is the letter we were never meant to read; these are the words that many, many mothers have thought but rarely shared. I found this letter in my email, sent to me by accident from a woman and mother who was horrified by her mistake. If The Conversation is about women sharing their truths and lessons (sometimes hard ones) with one another in order to thrive, then this letter is the epitome of what this site is about.
I thank you sincerely for sharing your words which you wrote only for you and were never to be seen. I have no doubt there are many mothers out there who will relate. I know there are days when I do…
Remember me? I’m the tired, angry martyr you malign and ignore every day. I’m the harridan who nags and bitches at you 24/7. I’m the one with the bad temper who swears and despairs in equal measure. I’m the tragic one who hasn’t managed a good night’s sleep since the day you were born. Yeah, it’s me. I just wanted you to know that I’m taking a break. I’m giving myself a big time-out; sending myself to camp, going away for a while. Before I do, though, there are a few things you need to know.
I have left a hamper in each of your bedrooms. It is for your laundry. Neither I nor Dad will be doing your laundry any more. None of it. You’re old enough to do your own. If you don’t know how to use the machine, use those enquiring, independent minds I have endeavored to nurture and learn!
I will not be concerning myself with your diets. I will not be thinking of your nutrition, or of who likes what. I will not be buying, preparing, cooking or doing anything with food for you. I will not be baking cakes, scones, flapjacks or making grilled cheese, tuna melts or anything else for when you walk in the door. I will not spend one moment on ensuring you have enough protein or fiber. I will not concern myself with making any family dinners where you can unwind, connect, laugh or ponder the events of your day. This should make you happy. You can put your elbows wherever you like, talk loudly with your mouths full and cover everything in ketchup or maple syrup.
You may clean up after yourselves. I will not be putting hairbrushes or gel back in the drawer. I will not be picking up your pajamas from the bath mat. I will not be cleaning up your toothpaste spit from the sink every morning. I will not be opening your windows to air out your bedrooms or making your environment pleasurable in any way. I will not be making sure you have gym clothes ready. I will not be putting your breakfast bowls in the dishwasher, nor wiping up the milk you spilt. I will not be doing your abandoned chores because I won’t be taking pity on you. I will not be dying/braiding your hair, taking you for haircuts or getting you prescriptions for your skin. I will not be taking you to the doctor/chiropractor/
Arrange your own rides everywhere. I will not be planning any trips for you or driving you anywhere. I will not be coordinating with any other parents to get you to or from any of your activities, despite how much hard-earned and scarce money we have paid for you to do them.
Do your homework or don’t. I won’t be checking if you have any, if you’ve done it, helping you with it or signing any papers. I won’t be reminding you of projects or procuring your supplies. I won’t be contacting any teachers with excuses for why you’re late/haven’t done homework/can’t attend. I will not be taking any interest in your education whatsoever. Your future, for now at least, is in your hands. Not mine.
Lastly, look carefully elsewhere for a soft place to land. Advice, empathy, support, sympathy, encouragement, solace and kindness will not be supplied. I will not be listening to your problems with your friends. I will not be a sounding board for your issues. I will not be listening to your tales, jokes, trials or tribulations nor will I be helping you to find solutions to your myriad difficulties. I will not be providing hugs, massages, foot rubs or any form of physical comfort to let you know you’re loved, accepted or cherished. I won’t be paying you compliments or telling you how smart/handsome/pretty/cute or funny you are. I won’t be bolstering your fragile, burgeoning egos in any way.
While I’m away I want you to play a game. It’s called ‘Pretend You’re Me.’ Metaphorically wear my shoes. Walk in them for a little bit. Do what I do for five minutes. See what I see and try to feel what I feel. She or he that finishes exhausted, sad, stressed, milked, over-burdened and exploited is the winner!