Every night since you were born I have held you safely in my arms for a quiet snuggle before bed. In these precious moments, with you nuzzled close to my heart, my mind often wanders to all of the things I want to tell you and all of the advice I have for you that I fear will go unsaid in the future when life gets busy and other seemingly more important activities get in the way. As you gently fall asleep in my lap, I think about the lessons I learned as a child that have held great importance in my life; and other lessons that I am still trying to learn, but wished I had embarked upon understanding sooner. I want to teach you these things, but since you are only three, I figure now is not the time for such grand concepts and discussions.
And so I have decided to write you some letters. This is the first one and I am writing it in honour of my third perfect and wonderful Mother’s Day with you in my life. I hope I will find the time and the wisdom to write many more of these letters on a variety of subjects in the future, but this is the first one, and in it I wish to address two topics:
First, the immeasurable love I feel for you; and second, a lesson taught to me by my own mother, which has served me well in life.
On the subject of loving you, what I feel cannot adequately be put into words. Anything I try to write sounds trite and insignificant because there is truly no vocabulary in my arsenal that effectively describes the power of my admiration and adoration for you already. At three years old, you are more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I hope that as the years pass, you will truly feel my love deep within your heart as something expressed through my soul. It should need no words. You will know it through my actions and the way I look at you when you enter a room. You will know how I feel because my eyes will light up and my heart will draw towards you. You will feel my love because it is palpable and profound. The very core of your being will know my willingness and my ability to walk to the ends of the earth to love you and support you in achieving your dreams.
My desire is that you will grow into a compassionate, kind and loving human being. As long as these three virtues are always at the center of your intentions, you will never falter in my eyes or in my heart. When life furnishes you with struggle or sadness, I will love you and sustain you. As a mother, I hope I can find the strength and confidence I need to separate myself from your individuality and resist the temptation to shape you into the vision I have for you. I wish for the courage to give you both the freedom and the wings you need to forge your own identity. You are beautiful and perfect and splendid just the way you are. Nothing I can say about you or to you should ever call that into question. And when the teenage years come along, I’m sure we will have our differences but remember the truth in something I have said to you every night since you were born:
I love you all the way to the moon and back.
And I do.
But now that you are three, when I tell you that I love you all the way to the moon and back, you have decided it’s too far and that you’d need a rocket ship to get there. So with that in mind, please let my strength and my love be your rocket ship in life and know that you can attain whatever it is you wish for because my love is powerful enough to take you there.
My dearest Csilla. It really and truly is.
And now for a lesson about determination and perseverance as taught to me by your Nana when I was a little girl…
Growing up in Ontario, I loved to play soccer. All summer long I thrived on the camaraderie, the fun and the half-time oranges of the game. Your Nana was (and still is) the most amazing organizer and as such, she acted as the manager for most of the soccer teams I ever played on. When I first started soccer I played on “house league” teams, which meant we only played against other teams from the same community we lived in. But when I got a little older, maybe 7 or 8, I began playing on a “traveling team”, which meant we played against other teams from neighboring communities. We played on different fields, against girls we did not know or recognize and with linesmen and referees who were unfamiliar to us.
On one particular occasion I remember traveling to the neighbouring town of Richmond Hill. Almost thirty years later, I can still picture the field we played on exactly. It was surrounded on the two short ends of the field by trees and sat at the bottom of a small embankment. It was beautifully kept and we were excited to play there. When the first whistle blew at the start of the game we had high hopes for victory. Our team was good; we had practiced hard and we were prepared. We knew all our moves, we passed effectively and we were skilled at working as a team in order to get the ball down the field and into the back of the opposing team’s net.
What we weren’t prepared for that day was that life isn’t fair sometimes. It’s the first time in my entire life I remember encountering something that felt completely and totally unjust.
The referee was a “homer”.
By that I mean he didn’t referee the game fairly. He knew the local girls; he wanted them to win and he called the match accordingly. Within the first few minutes of the game, Richmond Hill had more penalty kicks, offsides and out-of-bound balls called in their favour than would normally occur in an entire game.
As 7 and 8-year-old little girls, our team was completely and utterly dejected. We felt like we could do nothing right. How could we possibly win the game when the referee was so obviously unfair in his judgment of the play on the field? It seemed too much to bear and by half time, most of us were in tears. We were down a couple of goals and wanted to give up right then and go home.
And that’s when, dear Csilla, your wonderful sweet Nana stepped up to the plate and delivered the best pep talk of her soccer managing career. Do you know what she told us that day on the pretty field in Richmond Hill when a team of teary-eyed little girls looked up at her and said what can we do? How can we possibly win?
Your Nana said three simple words that have stuck with me for my entire life and they were:
SCORE. MORE. GOALS.
That’s it. That’s all she said.
Score more goals.
It was that simple. Because the absolute fact of the matter was that the referee could make all the poor calls he wanted to, but if, at the end of the game, we had put the ball into the back of our opponent’s net more times than they had scored on us, well, then we would win the game.
And so we did. We scored more goals. We just kept hammering away at it until we put more points on the board than the other team. It didn’t matter how many goals the referee reversed, or how many penalty kicks he gave the home team, we still scored more goals and so we still won the game.
And that’s the lesson I learned that day from your Nana. In life sometimes you just have to score more goals. Now this isn’t advice about Getting More, or Wanting More, it’s a lesson about Being More. When someone tries to knock you down or acts unfair, it is up to you to rise above it and succeed anyway.
In life you will encounter plenty of people who will treat you unfairly or try and get in your way or want to stop you from achieving you goals, but it is up to you, and you alone (or with my help, which will always be available if you want it) to persevere and succeed in spite of them. Not to spite them, but in spite of them. This distinction is important. The lesson here is about not about malice, it’s about excellence.
To win in an unjust situation like this requires two things:
First, you must be determined. You must focus your energy and efforts on your task and stick with it until it is finished. Determination is using your willpower to do something when it isn't easy. You are determined to meet your goals even when it is hard or you are being tested. With determination you can make your dreams come true.
Second, you must persevere. You must be steadfast by committing to your goals and overcoming obstacles, no matter how long it takes. When you persevere, you don't give up. You keep going. You must be stubborn and resolute in your desire to achieve your dreams. The things you aspire to will not always be handed over easily. If you really want something you must be unyielding in your pursuit regardless of fear or frustration or insecurities. Perseverance can be found inside your heart and mind if want something badly enough. And when you run out of your own, look to me to supply it, for I am your Mother and I will support you unwaveringly.
There’s a movie called The Pursuit of Happyness that contains a scene I just love. A father and his young son stand together discussing the hardships they currently face in their life and the father says to the son,
“Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't do something. Not even me. All right?”
The son says, “all right,” then the father continues. He says,
“You got a dream? You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period.”
And that is the truth my dear, sweet Csilla. In life, if you want something, go get it. Period. Despite anything I might ever say to the contrary. So long as compassion, kindness and love are at the heart of your intentions, I will believe in your dreams, even if I don’t always see them as clearly as you do.
Be determined. Persevere. And know that I love you...
... all the way to the moon and back. It’s so far you’d need a rocket ship to get there.