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  • A Letter to My Boy Who Is Not So Little Anymore: 'You Are Important. You Are Loved'

    A mom writes how she intends to help her son face the reality of life as he grows.
    by Via Katrina G. Portera .
  • Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
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    Hey there, little guy. Guess I will be retiring the term “little” soon, huh?

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    I just love how your personality is showing through more and more each day. Your dad and I sometimes look at each other in joyful fascination at your quirks, your unadulterated curiosity and lack of filter. But when I marvel at how much you’ve grown and the kind of person you’re becoming, my happiness is inevitably intruded upon by ominous worry.

    In a few years, you’re going to have to deal with a world that is not as bright and sunny as you think. Soon, you’re going to have to find your truth in what I can only describe as a tumultuous and unnerving ride.

    Now, your dad and I will not shield you from all of that. Frankly, we’ve seen enough in this lifetime to know that that is never the way to parent any child. So, before that chapter in your story commences, here is a letter to your future self telling you my hopes and dreams for you. Let me tell you what’s in my heart, hoping that it will anchor you to my love, wherever your ship sails and whatever storms you may face.

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    1. To my not so little boy, I hope you are as hardworking as you need to be to earn a decent living. But I hope you don’t put money in the center of your universe at the expense of what matters. I don’t suggest that you settle if you genuinely want more in life but make sure that your pursuit of “more” remains rooted in “enough.”

    2. If you find that your concept of a good life deviates from that of everyone else, do not be discouraged. The road less traveled is not necessarily the wrong path.

    3. Feel pain. Get hurt and cry if you must. You are not a machine. Courage is not denying your pain or smiling through gritted teeth. If someone tells you to only think positive thoughts, they are essentially not honoring your pain. Don’t give them a second of your time. Baby, only the dead don’t feel pain.

    4. Don’t be an asshole. And if you are, please know you’re never too old for a good 'ole ass-whooping from your mother.

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    5. Respect women. Don’t be a chauvinistic d*ck. If you are one, please know you’re never too old for a good 'ole ass-whooping from your mother.

    6. Yes, you are important. But so is everyone else. Calm that ego down.

    7. If you fudge up, face the consequences. If you leave your homework at home or forget that you have a project due the next day, deal with the fallout. Because I am sure as hell not skipping work to save your sorry, irresponsible ass.

    8. You are loved. It doesn’t matter if your devil-incarnate boss or an ex makes you feel otherwise. But if you think my love and devotion are not good enough for you, then please refer to Item # 4.

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    9. But seriously, you have always been and will always be loved beyond what the mind can fathom. So, if you experience some form of rejection — and statistically speaking, you probably will (I can make you a PowerPoint if you like) — come home to me and your dad. We can’t make your “adult boo-boos” go away but... well, there IS always cake.

    10. If you believe in God, don’t be encumbered by the trappings of organized religion. Make your relationship with Him the focus of your faith. And when you pray to Him, have an actual conversation with the guy, will you? He’s not “judge-y” like everyone else, so you’ll be fine.

    11. Just try. If things don’t work out, know that no one ever died from making mistakes. But before you decide to quit your job and work as a party clown, let me clarify that I am not encouraging the absence of reason but the daring to be your glorious self in this Instagram-driven, overly-airbrushed world that extols perfection at the expense of being human.

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    So, there you go. Of course, you’re too young to understand all of these now. But when the time comes and you are at the cusp of adulthood or you are beginning to realize the world is not as it seems, then I will let you read this letter. It’s not much in the way of wisdom or tangible solutions but I have come to accept that motherhood is not having all the answers.

    Motherhood is all about being your refuge, the space where you feel safe enough to let go. And in a world that’s scary AF, I hope having me as your mom also becomes your strongest and most enduring source of comfort.

    And if none of this crap helps, then screw it, there’s always cake.

    Via Portera, M.A., RGC has been working as a guidance counselor for close to 13 years. She is married to Eric, a high school History teacher. They have a 4-year-old son named Rafa. Writing is a passion stoked by her personal experience as a mother,wife and generally befuddled adult. When she's not working or writing, she spends her days trying not to wrangle her energetic preschooler.

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