Dear daughter, Dear son

reddirtlattes/ March 16, 2018/ Gulf Islands, Canada/ 7 comments


Be kind. I will show you how. 

Be strong in who you are, but flexible. Allow for change. Make room inside yourself for growth, even when it scares you. Especially when it scares you. I hope I’ve shown you what bravery looks like. 

Listen deeply, as I do to you. 

Speak confidently, as you see me do in life. 

When someone needs help be there as a friend. I will show you what friendship looks like. 

If your neighbor is sick take them food. We will cook together. 

Recycle. Nature is my gift to you. 

When you want to take a picture of yourself turn the camera around and take a picture of what’s in front of you. Better yet, put the camera down and just look. I will tell you stories of my youth where no one stopped to capture anything. 

No means no. I will teach you to say it firmly. 

So much can be fixed with a hot bath and warm tea. That’s why you see me making them so often. 

If someone hurts you think about how wonderful it was that someone meant that much to you. Each time we are hurt and it leaves a mark it means we have been touched by love. Keep going. A marked heart is full heart. I know that well. 

It’s important to join large causes and scream for justice with the masses. It’s equally important to see the homeless you pass by, or the overworked mother of 3 down the road. Give them your time, even if it’s to say hi, I see you. We’ll make a card together for the child who sits alone at lunch. 

You can always go in a different direction. See how many paths I have veered from. 

You can always start over. I will teach you how to take one step at a time. 

Remember that when the waves come all you have to do is ride them and go with the current until they spit you back out into calm water. You won’t drown. Listen to my stories of tidal waves fought. I will teach you to tread water. I will teach you when to paddle hard. 

It takes strength to cry. That is why I celebrate your emotion. 

Don’t be afraid of sadness. It is how you will truly know joy. 

Make strong boundaries. I have taken your hand and shown you when it was time to walk away. 

Sometimes though, forgive. Even I make mistakes. 

Don’t look for a happy life. Look for a full life. I am so very full, which is my happiness. 


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  1. More beauty.

  2. Sabrina, how wonderfully beautiful and prescient. You are indeed a kindred spirit I very much admire. Whether you realize it or not, if most parents inculcated the advice to their children as you have, the best prescription for combatting gun violence is following the wisdom you just prescribed. There would be far fewer troubled teens and younger adults who account for much of of the gun violence we are experiencing.

    What you have encouraged your children to become are being self-sufficient, caring, strong, responsible, loving, adaptable, and a human being true to themselves and to the world around them. It doesn’t get any better than that. And most important for you and your husband, you both teach by example.

    Your children are lucky to have a parent like you. It is great to be there for your children, and it is also great for you to realize, as you do, that to be there for them, you must be there for yourself first. Always be inquisitive, easily admit that you makes mistakes, which is alright as long as you recognize it and grow from that. If a parent follows that path, children will certainly be better prepared to navigate the inevitable ups and downs that life presents for them. And if they become parents, they will pass that along to their children, enabling you to be a proud grandparent. And the cycle will continue. What a lasting legacy to have: to leave the world a better place for your being a part of it.

    You might think of asking your husband to come up with his own list of advice for his children. That will become for them, a wonderful example of what a loving relationship can truly be like.

    Some day you may want to consider what has become known as a living will. In this, when you are in the twilight of your life, write to your children and/or grandchildren of what has always been important that has guided your own life, and what you wish for them. I would call that a living legacy.

    And finally, when your children enter the turmoil and confusing years of their adolescence, encourage them to draw up a list of what is important to them for leading their lives, and what are their dreams and hopes for the future. That will help ground them for surely, the greatest period of turmoil, confusion, and self-doubt in their existence.

    Again, your kids are very lucky to have parents like you and your husband. Most parents LOVE their children, and the least because they are supposed to and are pushed to by their maternal or paternal instinct. You have found the prescription of parenting to really LIKE them also. That is even rarer. It may be the crowning achievement insuring great satisfaction. Believe me, if you wind up LIKING your children and or grandchildren, life never gets better than that.


    1. Oh Seymour, we can remind them of this on my bad days :).

      1. Oh Sabrina, we all have them. When my 43 year old daughter was nine, the age when she began pre-adolescence, she was having a tantrum. I don’t remember over what. She was kicking the basement door and I yanked her away by her arm. She smashed against the end of the arm of a chair and broke her rib. I took her to the emergency room and they asked her what happened. It was then that I realized what if they think I abused her? I didn’t think she was aware of the implications of that, but I didn’t say a word. She responded immediately and sheepishly, that she fell into the arm of chair. I wonder if she was more aware than I thought and was protecting me, or if she was embarrassed because she had a tantrum. She and I never brought it up again, so I guess I will never know. Bad day for both of us.

        But somehow we survived her adolescence and now she is the mother of two, one boy, 17 years old, and one girl, 11 years old, and so far, no trouble at all. And my son, almost 38 and a muscular 6 feet 8 inches, had a good time being a very handsome, smart, fun loving with a great personality, who loved being a a single bon vivant. But then he finally settled down and married on the beach in Cancun two years ago. He is giving me my third grandchild in August, on the same day as our 47th anniversary, and I am over the moon. So, suffering the bad days, particularly with kids, can be well worth the experience.

        One great story about him had to do when he spent his junior year in university studying in Florence, Italy. He took for college credit a course on oenology, the science and study of wine and winemaking. For this, I had to pay one quarter of a hefty tuition.

        When he returned home, we celebrated at a fine Italian restaurant. As usual, when we went out to a restaurant with him, we got a kick when a young lady waited on us and kept staring and smiling at him along with other waitresses. Then the sommelier, dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and bow tie went through the ritualistic shtick and presented a bottle of wine. He balanced a bottle on his outstretched forearm for inspection. He poured a sample in a glass and my son promptly took it. Then my son went through all the ritualistic motions for testing it. Swirled it around without spilling a drop. Held up the glass to inspect its color. Smelled it. And then he described its characteristics–a little tannin, the color is blah, blah, blah, and etc. The surprised look on the sommelier’s face was worthy of a candid picture. After he left, we all had a laugh. It was worth the cost of the tuition.


  3. Sabrina, your writing never gets old.

    1. Thank you so much, B.F.

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