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Firstborn Parenting Regrets

Dear Firstborn, This Is My Biggest Parenting Regret

Dear Firstborn,

I have regrets. You'll have them, too, someday. We all do. Once you become a parent, these regrets may swirl around your head like a black fly refusing to buzz away.

You made me a mother. You poured more love into my heart than I ever thought possible. When you were a baby, your sweet coos from the monitor woke me each morning. I clutched the covers to my chin and thanked God for you while I listened a little longer. Then, I skipped to your crib, our dark eyes met, and the corners of our lips magnetically went upward.

I had high expectations from even those early days. As my firstborn, you would be perfect. You'd sleep through the night, walk before age 1, learn your ABCs, potty-train, and even start simple addition. As a teacher, I'd shape you like the Play-Doh in your chubby fingers. And now, just like that, you're in kindergarten. And things aren't perfect — you're not perfect. Sometimes the disappointment you feel bears down on you, and I take responsibility for that.

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I regret climbing a ladder and placing you high on that pedestal. Turns out, kindergarten is hard. You come home with dark circles under your eyes, tired of working both your body and brain. At 5 years old, stress is clenched in your fists. I know you're not taking it out on me. You can't help it.

Now someone else is teaching you. It's my turn to love you only — no more teaching. When you get home from school, it will be no homework, no pushing you to do anything more. It's time to connect through touch, a game of war, and a book, if you're up to it.

Sweet firstborn, it was my job to prepare you for school, but I regret putting pressure on you to only succeed. That's impossible. Humans fail, but then we get up.

From here on out, I will encourage you and still push you when you need it, but I've taken you down from that pedestal, knowing that it will hurt more when you fall from the top. You can make it back up there on your own; you don't need your mother delicately placing you there. Parenting you is the greatest accomplishment of my life, even with that black fly of regret circling my head, and although you're not perfect, you're perfect as my son.

I love you,

Mom

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