Marlow and Bowen,

Last night, I kissed your foreheads and tucked you into bed like I do every night. We read a story, said our prayers, and you fell asleep as I sang “Three Little Birds” in hushed refrains. I lingered longer than normal, watching you sleep and wondering what the world might look like when you repeat this nighttime ritual with your own children one day.

Eventually, I left the room and returned to the pile of laundry I’ve been folding, well, since your births it would seem. Stretched-out sleeves, spaghetti stains, knees that need patching… our world is full of fabric frayed from little lives explored at full speed.

Sleep eluded me, and in that restlessness came an epiphany — maybe not forever, but right now your happiness is wrapped up in me. It’s up to me whether the lens through which you view the world becomes clouded or remains a kaleidoscope of color.

So, today, I make promises to no one but you.

I promise that I will try, always, to choose joy. Faced with seemingly insurmountable sadness of circumstance, I will seek out the silver lining.

I promise that I will keep using my voice to fight for what I know to be good and right, because in doing so I’ll be helping you find yours.

I promise we will make playdates with little boys and girls who don’t look like us and who may not speak like us or even worship like us, because part of what makes this country so beautiful is that it is complex and layered, like hummingbird cake.

I promise that no matter who you choose to love, I will love them too. Never for one second do I want you to doubt your heart or worry that I won’t accept your love because it doesn’t look like mine. Love is love is love is love is love — and the world needs more of it, not less.

I promise I will make sure you understand the measure of a person’s worth cannot be qualified by looking at them. No one in this world will look exactly like you, my little ones, and just because someone looks similar does not make them better than those who look different. You have to dig deeper to get to the true mettle of a person.

I promise to prove to you that we are not bound by the limitations other people place on us. I will show you there is inherent strength in being a woman and that, together, women can be as immutable as mountains in their resolve.

I promise not to skip over the parts of our history that are hard or ugly, because those parts are important, too. Our nation is not perfect because we, the people, are not perfect. Our nation’s story is full of bruises and breaks, and if we ignore them they will never heal.

I promise to make sure you don’t feel alone, even when you are. When everyone around you zigs, I’ll zag with you. And we’ll talk about why it’s OK to be the only zaggers in a horde of ziggers, and why it’s OK to be a zagger, too.

I promise to impart upon you that hateful words say much more about the person saying them than the person they’re saying them to. I’ll do my best through my own actions to show you how much kindness matters. And I’ll caution you that hatred is commutative — it’s impossible not to get some on yourself if you get too close — but, happily, the same can be said for kindness.

I promise I will try to be an example that actions speak louder than words. However, I don’t want you to throw your words away either. They matter. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t.

My sweet loves, I promise I will strive to be the best version of myself for you. I will be your champion and your shoulder to cry on. I will stand with you on the frontlines of battle, but I won’t ever hesitate to scoop you up into my arms and shelter you when the sorrow in the world becomes a yoke that chokes you.

And I promise that in those times when I can’t protect you from the badness in the world — because surely those dark days will come — I won’t ever give up on goodness. We will be tiny countries of hope unto ourselves… or, as Glennon Doyle Melton puts it, we will be love warriors.

Today seems like a pretty good day to start, don’t you think?

Love always,

Your mama