Today’s poetry prompt is unsent letters. I feel a little naked sharing this one.
For many years I was angry at you.
You were restrictive and severe with me.
I was convinced you didn’t want me to have any fun.
I didn’t think you were a very good mother.
I was determined to be a better mother than you.
I wish that when I was younger I had written down
exactly what I thought a good mother would do.
Because when I became one,
all my best intentions went out the window.
I couldn’t even remember
what I thought a good mother looked like.
I eventually realized you’d done the best you knew how.
And in a lot of ways, you did a great job.
I forgave you for what you lacked. Then I made the mistake of telling you so.
You told me you thought you had been a very good mother.
And I couldn’t answer that. You had no clue how hard it was to be your daughter.
But now I realize how good my childhood really was.
I had lots of clearly defined boundaries—
I resented those, but they helped me learn
what was right and what was wrong,
what was important and what was meaningless.
And I had areas of incredible freedom
that was appropriate for that simpler time,
freedom which I could not give my own children—
hours of unsupervised wandering around our town.
Sometimes I did things I shouldn’t have,
but the consequences were my own.
I learned to make my own decisions,
though too often I surrendered to peer pressure.
I worry that, in truth, I wasn’t a good parent.
I failed my children in some ways.
When they suffer, I worry that
I didn’t adequately prepare them for life.
Pain is inevitable.
Did I paint too rosy a picture for them?
I wish I could ask you a million questions about raising children,
but you’ve been gone fourteen years.
Why didn’t I ask you long ago?
I miss you so much, Mom.