As I write this letter, you are busy playing grocery store with your stepbrother, both of you using your imaginations to transform household items into grocery carts, goods and check-out stations. You keep popping your head into my room and asking me how much money everything in your bag will cost you. I tell you the approximate amounts and you smile ear-to-ear before rushing back across the house to relay the message to your brother.
You are a happy kid, in love with your family and especially your mommy. I see pieces of me in virtually everything that you do and am awed by the huge responsibility of being your caregiver, friend and role model.
We did not always have this family, this house or this life. For a few years we lived a very different existence. One where you had no siblings, I had no husband and we lived in whatever apartments or with whatever family we could. We didn’t notice any struggles, however, because we had all we ever needed in each other. The blessings that we enjoy today are just added bonuses to what was already a unique and wonderful life.
When I was pregnant with you, I was scared of you. To put it more accurately, I was scared of not being enough for you. I did not have any of the things to offer you that I had always sworn I would have before I brought a child into this world. I felt ill-equipped and that you would reject me.
I realize that there is still plenty of time for you dislike me, resent me and tell me that you hate me (I hear those are collectively called the “teenage years”), but so far, to this date, you have done nothing but support me in everything I do — never asking me where we are going, or what we are doing — but you have been happy to just be with me. It’s a gift, truly, that I never would have imagined possible on this date, four years ago.
I’m pregnant again, only this time under more traditional circumstances. I have a committed partner who is just as ready to attack the parenting of this child as I am. I have a few years of parenting experience to offer and three adoring siblings just bursting at the seams to see their new baby sister. This pregnancy has been much different than the one that I with you, my lovely firstborn, and I have realized through the difficult moments that I was blessed with health and happiness beyond what is common when you were still growing inside me. So there are a few things that I want to say to you today, on your fourth birthday, while they are still burning strongly in my mind.
As you get older, the story of how you came to be will be something that you and I will discuss. I want that to be an honest discussion and one where I neither sugar coat the story nor villianize any parties. The truth, as I have come to discover in these four years since your birth, is much more complicated than simple abandonment or rejection. It is a story that involves layers of confusion, fear and miscommunication on both sides of your genetic makeup. These truths will likely become even more clear as more time goes by and I see things for the way they truly are, unclouded by the frantic fog of exhaustion that settles heavily over parents of young children.
Those conversations are still a few years away so I wanted to be sure that I wrote down some of my thoughts now — as I am one-half of a life creating team again, under different circumstances.
- You have never been, nor ever will be, a regret. Never in the most stressful moments have I for one moment ever regretted having you in my life and I never will.
- I make no apologies, but I want the best for you. You will probably hear me say “do as I say, not as I did” a couple (thousand) times in your lifetime. This will be true in a variety of applications but never more true than in our discussion of how you entered this world. I hope that we have responsible, realistic conversations about the relationships in your life, how you spend your time, how you handle stressful situations and who you allow into the most intimate moments of your existence. Like any parent, I do not want anything to be unnecessarily difficult for you and I hope that my example of success will not blur your knowledge of the hard road it took to reach this point.
- Being kind can really be a burden sometimes, but it pays off in the end. You have a very sensitive spirit, and I’m sorry to tell you that it runs in your blood. As a result, you look at life in a rosy way. This is adorable and endearing in a little girl but can lead to some serious heartbreak later in life when you discover that not everyone shares your outlook. Be kind anyway. And while you’re at it, remind me to be kind too.
- I can’t always act like your friend but I will always be your best friend. Even now, there are times that you would rather I toss my “parent” attitude aside in favor of running around in the front yard naked. It’s really no fun for you (or me) to have to say “no” to such adventures. You get mad at me. You pout. You plead your case to no avail. This will happen time and time again in our relationship and there will be times that it seems to you that I must not like you at all. But I always like you. I always love you. You will always be my best friend. I just want what is best for you — please remember that.
This list could go on and on, but in the process each point would become diluted by the next. So this is all. For this year.
Happy 4th Birthday, my lovely little girl. I can’t wait to see what the year brings us.
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