A Letter To My Daughter: I’m Sorry I’m Not The Perfect Mom You Deserve

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Dearest daughter:

Yesterday was a long day. A busy day. A tough day. And I’m sorry — so sorry — for not being present. For being snippy and short-tempered. And for saying, “Hold on; just give me a minute. One more minute,” when you asked me to sit down and play, when you asked me read you a story. Yesterday you wanted my attention — you asked, in your sweet and soft little voice, for just a few minutes of my time and my love — but I neglected your needs in the moment.

I didn’t mean to. When you first brought me your books, my hands were in the kitchen sink. I was busy washing dishes, but I genuinely meant my words.

Just let me finish up, I thought. I just need five or ten more minutes.

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But then work distracted me. Phone calls distracted me. Family matters distracted me, and before I knew it, I was putting you to bed without reading you a single word of that 32-page short story.

Before I knew it, I was putting you to bed, breaking my promise and your heart.

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Of course, you didn’t seem bothered, at least not at bedtime, because by then all you wanted were tickles and snuggles, hugs and kisses, and two (yes, two) full glasses of water.

But as we lay there in your bed — still, silent, and staring at the ceiling — I regretted the story we hadn’t read, the time we had missed out on, and the way I squandered our waking hours together.

I regretted the fact that I had failed to follow through and failed you, and I felt like a bad parent and a terrible mother.

How could I ignore my daughter and let her down?

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Make no mistake, story aside, that we did do quite a lot yesterday. We went to the park and played hide and seek, we painted both pictures and pumpkins, and we built an entire city out of Legos.

We did puzzles and picnicked on the kitchen floor, but every time you asked me to read you a story, my hands were busy and my mind was occupied. Every time you asked me to read you that story, I was working, writing, pitching articles, or spewing an excuse like:

“After I make lunch, Peanut.”

“Just let me put away these clothes away.”

“As soon as Mommy finishes these edits.”

“I’ll read you the story after we go to the store. Promise.”

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But we never got there. I never made time for story time. And I’m sorry. I’m still so very sorry.

After a sleepless night — a night filled with anger, regret, self-loathing, and shame — I realized there may be an upside, a silver lining in this dark and dismal cloud.

You see, while I am not proud of my actions, while I am not happy with my work-from-home and stay-at-home situation, and while my “just give me another minute” excuses were just that, excuses, the truth is I will never be perfect. My attention will almost always be divided. And inevitably I will mess up.

I will fail myself and you.

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But I know, whether I succeed or fail, you are watching me. You are learning from me, and you are growing, and I like to believe that is having a positive impact. I like to believe that you are becoming a strong and fiercely independent lady because you see how hard I work, how much I take on, and you aim to do the same. I like to believe you are learning tenacity and flexibility.

I like to believe that you are so focused and driven because you see those traits in your mother, even when I falter. Even when I scream and cry and mess up.

I like to believe that you are so understanding and empathetic because I am never too proud to apologize or to tell you I was wrong, and that I’m sorry.

I like to believe these words are why you woke up the next morning with no resentment or animosity. You weren’t upset or angry. Instead, you rose the same way you do every day: with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart.

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The only difference was that on this morning you carried more than zest and zeal into my room. You brought more than soft kisses and snuggles. When you entered my dark room, you came in with a book  — a small, hardcover Little Golden Book.

“Mommy, can we read a story?”

“Yes, baby.” I smiled. “We can read as many stories as you would like.”

For more from Kimberly Zapata, visit Sunshine Spoils Milk and Facebook

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