slice of life

A Letter to My Daughter’s Older Self

Dear Isabelle,

I arrived at school a few minutes early today.  Even though I am still under the weather, I thought I’d try to take you to the park for a walk.  It’s such a lovely pre-spring day outside.  Even though I don’t feel well, I figured I could use some fresh air.  Plus, you said you wanted to go somewhere after school today.

But that wasn’t in the cards.  You got super silly once I walked into your classroom. You went from resting on your rest mat to kicking off your socks to running down the hallway and sitting in the school library.  I didn’t run after you today because I am SO. TIRED. OF. RUNNING. AFTER. YOU. I told you to come back three times (from your classroom door). Three calls and ten minutes later you came back.  I sat you down on the reading bench and talked to you. After our chat, I helped you put your socks and shoes on.  We were just about to leave when you realized

Watering the Plants
Watering the Plants

We were just about to leave when you realized you didn’t do the job you signed up for today (plant feeder). I sighed.  Then I helped you fill up the watering can and feed the plants. How couldn’t I let you feed them?

We drove home 25 minutes after I walked in the door. Of course, you wanted to watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” when you came home. I didn’t want to allow that.  Who rewards their kid for running away from them?  Not me!  I said no.  And that’s when the crying began.  Crying that continued — on and off — for the better part of an hour.

The thing is, I’m not sorry I didn’t let you watch “Daniel Tiger” despite how much you love it and how much you tried to wear me down. Bad behavior has a consequence and this was the most logical consequence I could think of today.  I hope you’ll understand this when you have your own kids. I hope you won’t give into their whims and their whines or they’ll manipulate you like the day is long.

I hope you’ll also understand how hard it is for me to stick to my guns.  I want to make you happy, but I’m nothing if I’m not consistent.  It’s my hope this consistency will pay off since you are a strong-willed child.  I guess time will tell on that front.

I love you.



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14 thoughts on “A Letter to My Daughter’s Older Self

  1. I hope your daughter does read this one day when she can appreciate how hard it is do what’s right, especially on those days when you’re feeling worn down and it would be so much easier to just give in. I hope you have a restful evening and an easier day tomorrow!


  2. Absolutely. So many parents would have just given in for some peace and quiet. From all of Isabel’s future teachers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Here’s hoping all that crying means an early night for the two of you.

  3. I totally commend you for sticking to your guns! I know it isn’t easy, but I do know one day Isabelle will thank you. I sure hope sooner than later. I could totally visualize and connect to your story through your strong description of the situation! STAY STONG and do not let her wear you down.

  4. Oh Stacey, been there! But it has been a long time. My former “runner” is now 19. So, I wish you good luck. But, I’ll tell you, I wish I had relaxed a little more. And, I can only say that now because of the distance from that time.

  5. Been here. I bet of all things listed here, it’s vented and liberated and still if she reads I one day she won’t get it until she’s in the exact same spot. I like the idea of this slice and you exasperated little bits thrown in. 🙂

  6. I wish I had written messages like that for my sons to read when they become parents. Some days are frustrating trying to balance wants and needs. I think you know you did the right thing, but is just so tiresome and tiring to have to go through it all again and again. I used to say my kids were stubborn, my mom said they were persistent, so…

  7. Stacey, I’ve been dealing with some tough parenting issues lately, too. Not exactly the same as yours, but tough nonetheless. I was recently talking to friends about this – about how it’s hard to make these choices but in the end, we hope it will pay off. I know it will for Isabelle. She’s testing her boundaries so she can find them. Hang in there!

  8. Oh – good for you for hanging in there. My kiddo’s are now 25 and 31 and each of them were strong willed. I recall lots of tears and leaving places due to this behavior. Now they are coming home to check in, chat and in their own ways let us know they appreciate that fact that we were always there for them even in the tough times. She will value the lessons your are sharing with her – you can be sure of it.

  9. Sometimes it is necessary to say no and it sounds like you did a very good job doing that today! Isabelle will know later that she was lucky to have a mom that looked out for and helped to balance her happiness and her kindness like you do.

  10. It’s hard to hang in there, it’s hard to stay consistent, and it’s hard to parent when you aren’t feeling your best. All I can say is that my kids have forgotten what it was they whined over and what it was that they didn’t get to do because a line had been crossed. but, they remembered that consistency and fairness – and they are grateful for it today.

  11. Parenting is hard not matter what and even more difficult when you don’t feel well. I’ve been there too and as you can see, you are not alone in this “fight”! I love that you wrote this letter to Isabelle’s older self. One day … they will understand. One day … they will see that we had to make hard decisions. One day … when our girls are mothers. (A long, long, long, time from now!) 🙂 Hang in there and hope you feel better!!!

  12. I love that you wrote about this. I love your title. I feel your TIRED of running after her. I think you will look back on this post one day with a big smile. You’re doing wonderful work with that beautiful girl. Strength for the very important journey!

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