Dear Lily June,
We couldn’t have made more the picture of mother and daughter yesterday if we’d tried.
There you were, on the carpet crawling around, looking adorable (as usual) as your 12- month-sized jeans slowly slid down, exposing your 10-month-old diapered butt. I rolled over on the carpet next to you and my own pants lost their hold, exposing my maternal plumber’s cleavage.
This trouble with jeans is a genetic gift, Lily, one that goes back for generations to your Great Great Grandmother Hendrix. It was her, in the parlance of our times, “bootyliciousness” that spawned the nickname passed down alongside the posterior present itself: The Hendrix Heinie.
I have a sizeable butt. Your aunt Loren, my sister, has one, too. Your grandmother Raelyn, my mother gave them to us. Your Great Grandmother Lorie, my grandmother, gave one to her and her sister, Ronna. Whether Your Great Great Grandmother Hendrix, my Great Grandmother, was actually patient zero for the derriere endowment is beyond my scope.
I only know, my dear, that for as long as I’ve been alive, the buck has stopped with her butt, the same one you and I now share. (And in the blogosphere your mother inhabits, you’re in good company.) You’re welcome, my darling. Consider it my first real gift.
Or is it? I wonder, looking into the hair that curls, waves, sticks up, juts, and looks messy, tangled and mussed no matter how wet, styled, combed or recently brushed.
Though your tresses have the lighter color of your father, they’ve sure enough earned the double cowlick your mother once, as a child, hated if for no other reason than its name. Just imagining my bovine hairstylist gives me a case of the (sh)udders, but they’re caused, my dear, by the fact that our hair grows with all the architectural flourish of a bramante staircase.
Of course, I should’ve known you were my daughter when your first words, spoken only just recently and now repeated incessantly (much, I say this earnestly, to your parents’ delight) were
“Uh oh.” ~Lily June, 10 months old
I am 100% positive you got these words from me.
Not only does this harken back to the commercials your dad and I cut our teeth on as kids…
…it also is, without a doubt, the world’s cutest mimic of my anxiety. I could take a Guiness World Record, Lily, for Most Prolific “Uh-Oh-er” in history.
I do this when I lose my own wallet inside of my own sweater pocket. I do it when I lose the glasses I’m wearing at the time ON MY FACE. I say it like my mother does, when she’s hunting for the keys in the purse she’s misplaced, all the while her heart skipping every other beat. Again, it’s good to know we’re not alone in this, but if there were any of my genetic gifts you were going to inherit, anxiety is not the one I want you to receive.
I’m hoping you’re just a toddling mockingbird, who repeats without knowing the palpitations behind the incantation. May you never, Lily June, worry like me, or we’ll really have a reason to chant, in unison, “Uh-oh!”
It is interesting to see, though, these first gifts rear their noticeable, well, rears.
Yesterday, I spent a good bit of time trolling through Etsy, dreaming of getting you a sickeningly sweet (and horrifyingly overpriced) personalized first birthday onesie. And in doing so, I realized how desperately I want to get you the PERFECT GIFT for a birthday you’ll never even remember. Hello, perfectionist mommy. Hello, anxiety.
And part of my panic in not being able to locate it is in realizing, I have no idea what to give you. You like eating poetry (literally, as when I’ve been putting my old work into a semblance of order, cutting back on being a paper hoarder, you’ve taken whole bites of the papers if I look away for an instant, you goat.) You like unfolding the laundry your mommy has painstakingly origami’d. You like tossing books into the air like you were the full-torso apparition from that library scene in Ghostbusters .
None of these interests translates to a THING I can purchase to make you happy.
I know I want to try to make you a memory quilt out of your old onesies, a project that truly separates me, genetically, from my mother whose idea of a “Sewing Box” was a cardboard graveyard where old ripped clothes went to be buried. I should try to find a way to print the letters (on fancy paper with fancy binding) that your dad and I wrote you during my pregnancy. But the truth is, both of those gifts aren’t really for you, and I know it. Those gifts, Lily, are, right now, for me. They’ll only be for you eventually.
Right now, you’d be thrilled to get a cardboard toilet paper roll (not that I’d let you have that kind of roughage to eat.) You’d settle for a smile and a rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it, bite Mommy.” You’d be ecstatic for a huge hunk of my hair that you could tug, scolding-free.
You’re certainly not going to look good on camera unwrapping your cowlicks and big butt cheeks, all while squeaking “Uh Oh,” three gifts you’ve already gotten from me.
I will, more than likely, ultimately, submit to the uncreative masses of primary-colored plastic that make up the toys you do little more than push out of your way on your pants-dropping cruising sessions. But only if I can give you one more gift, not from me, but from the world, even if it is an unrealistic thing to request for one at your tender age.
So, Lily, I’m now writing not to you, anymore, but to the public who reads these letters over your virtual shoulder.
I want the blogosphere to celebrate Lily’s birthday with me, and I’m asking everyone, anyone, who reads these letters to RSVP by way of writing a guest post (or in this case, a guest letter).
“Lily June” will turn one on May 13. That gives me a little over a month to occasionally post letters from others, and I’d truly be honored if you, YOU, DEAR READER would consider writing a letter to my daughter.
It can be long and thoughtful or short and sweet. I know that, other than the tidbits you might glean from these letters, you don’t really know-know her. That doesn’t matter. I’m asking you, in your guest posts, to do three things:
- Address your letter to Dear Lily June.
- Write a letter which you feel comfortable sharing. It call be about anything, but if you need a question or a prompt, you could choose any of the ones below.
- Send the letter to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can do a little editing (if need be; just typos and such) and get it ready for posting.
Possible Prompts (Feel free to ignore them and write your own thing):
- What do you think a girl/woman/person needs to know in the twenty-first century to be successful and/or happy (whatever you take those words to mean)?
- What’s something you wished you would have listened to your mother about?
- What’s the thing that’s given you the most joy/comfort in your life? Make Lily a recommendation for a way of living.
- What’s a horrible moment or trauma you’ve lived through and your suggestion for how to avoid or heal from the same thing? Teach Lily a lesson.
- What’s a skill or hobby you have that you could teach Lily June about by sharing something of it with her? [To make it easy, she’s going to be one, so she doesn’t yet know how to do ANYTHING.]
- Anything, anything, anything you can think of to share with her, be it a personal memory or a joke or a bedtime story or a favorite song to enrich her life and enlarge her world.
I am just one person who wants to give her daughter more than some plastic toy. I want to give her EVERYTHING, and that includes the knowledge I am honored to take in from you each month/week/day when I read YOUR blog and learn so much from you about how to be her mother. I promise you, whatever you write, I’d be eternally grateful for what you’ve done for my daughter.
You could even pass this prompt along to someone you truly think could have a unique perspective or something important to teach. I hope at least one person takes up the mantle and provides this gift to my daughter. Please, don’t make make me feel (even though I have one literally) like a Hugh Jass for asking!
- By Ludovic Bertron from New York City, Usa – Jean Shop, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24859029
- By daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada – Bramante Staircase 3, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40681143