Letting Go


When E was born, she was difficult. No more difficult than the other unlucky babies with the run-of-the-mill yet debilitating issues like colic, reflux, or allergies, but still challenging. The type of challenging that brought forth a slew of late night google searches on topics we’d believed we had exhausted with our reflux-y colicky first born. But in spite of those issues, I always felt the warm fuzzies in the morning. I still felt the wisp of perspective nestled in my brain as I started each day on little to no sleep. Perspective that ran past me and bounded into the room in the shape of a talkative, ever changing, no longer a baby – little boy. Her older brother who now resembled a giant made her seem ever smaller, making me keenly aware that soon long limbs would sprout from her soft round midsection, and those completely curved feet would soon flatten and arch and be wearing shoes too big to be bronzed.

Children have a way of making you blissfully aware of your existence through witnessing theirs, turning negative thoughts into aspirationally positive ones, attempting to fix lifelong habits as you realize they’re watching you as well. And in those beautiful moments of quiet observation you’re sometimes the person you hope you to be for them. But in the more frequent moments you’re not, the darkness is blacker because you’re now failing several people instead of just yourself, left angry and resentful at these little beings that need so much, take so much, and who could be forever impacted by your inability to continually give them your best.

It comes out little by little, as I grit my teeth with happiness and receive the comments of others reminding me of my beautiful children and life (they are and it is). I’m finally spotting the signs of raggedness I’ve been trying so hard to hide. It’s there, in my bitten down nails and flaked cuticles, dry from the constant dish washing and laundry folding, bath giving and hand washing. Chewed to the quick while worrying about their lack of vegetable eating or too much screen watching. It’s there in the black semicircles under my eyes, that scream to be covered by a smear of concealer no matter what state of disarray or undress I choose to leave the house in the morning. It’s there in the way I lose my cool after a seemingly innocent refusal to brush teeth or drink milk. The way I feel nothing some days when I see the stream of tears down a chubby face or hear a soft whimper.

I love them so much but they make me hate myself sometimes. And every article written about the trials and tribulations of parenthood inevitably requires a very clear disclaimer: I love them, but. I’m so lucky, but. They are so unbelievably wonderful and magical and pure but. I miss myself sometimes, period. And that feels expressly forbidden. After a lot of beating myself up and wondering why I seemed to be struggling so much at this mothering thing, I came to realize that the two are not mutually exclusive: the unconditional love and the inexplicable yearning. It’s not so often expressed, that many of us function with both as our North Star. That some days we are parents and that’s enough. More than enough, some days it is just me and them and I’m complete. And other days it feels empty, and hard, and endless. Like I will never be good enough and they deserve better than what I’m able to give. But somehow, in the cross section of those two very opposite existences, you find a sliver of normalcy. Maybe one side of you cannot exist without the other. Maybe if you were completely satisfied with one, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate both. Maybe chasing balance shouldn’t be the goal; floating across and around and above and below it is just fine. Maybe you’re allowed to love your family and love yourself too. Maybe happiness is just letting go.



To My Little Girl


I adore you, little one.  Every strand of your furry little head that tickles my nose as you sleep soundly on my chest, every sigh and whimper and grunt as you sleep not so soundly.  Every soft sniffle that turns into a quiet cry into a loud wail until I gather you quickly into my arms, the way your cries die down into tired comforted breaths when you know I’ve given up on putting you back down.

I wanted a boy.  That was what I told people when we didn’t know what you would be.  I wanted a boy because boys were familiar to me.  Your brother broke me in as a mommy and as hard as that was, nothing scared me more than the unknown: what our relationship would be, what missteps I’d take, and the pain of you pushing me away one day.  But I was scared mostly for you  – the challenges you’d face and the things I wanted so desperately to protect you from.

As close as I am with your grandmother now, we didn’t always get along and I wasn’t always the best daughter.  She was a wonderful mom and we still grew apart; I had an idyllic childhood and still managed to find reasons to be upset at the world and at her, and as you’ll learn much later when you’re old enough to read this, karma is a b- ….will come back to teach you a lesson.

But you ended up being a girl, and I was surprised and scared and so overjoyed at the same time.  I don’t think I knew how badly I wanted you until you became real.  I relished in designing your nursery, and made your dad promise that I would get full decorative reign.  I avoided buying you dresses and bows and little shoes as long as I could because I knew once those floodgates opened there was no turning back.  I struggled with what to name you because as much as I thought it should be classic and feminine, I decided you needed a name that would stand out like I knew you would.

When you were born I felt different.  We had known each other a matter of minutes but I could already see how different and special you were, how much I wanted to tell you things that I knew you wouldn’t understand until you have children of your own.  I have so much to give you – as your mom and as a woman and as a once little girl and once very sad and very lost young woman.

You’re already showing how strong you are.  You look at me knowingly and when I talk to you and explain things I see you listening intently.  But you’re also vulnerable in a way your older brother wasn’t – you’re easily startled and you pout your lower lip at the smallest sign of fear or discomfort.  You’ve learned that the little lip elicits instant results when you need saving.

I hope I can teach you to be strong, and that being a girl doesn’t always mean pink and doesn’t always mean weak.  You can have your Disney princesses with a side of superheroes, you can wear dresses and still play in the dirt, you can cry and still find strength in your tears.  I want you to always feel beautiful and know that beauty is inside not out.  I want you to question and wonder and run fast and laugh hard and never be scared and never think you can’t.  I want you to never need a boy or feel like you should change for a boy, because I promise you there will be no shortage of them. And the best boy for you will be the one you meet when you’re the best girl for yourself.  I love you so much my sweet girl, I hope you’ll always remember that.