Dear Lily June,
When I started this blog a year ago today, I thought it would be like tossing a message in a bottle out to sea. Sure, someone else might stumble upon it, washed upon the shore of their life incidentally, but the words I wrote would mostly be lost in the waves of language flowing this way and that.
And yet, I had to cast that bottle, or I would’ve drowned. I had written you letters all through my pregnancy with you, and it caused me to connect to you instantly. While the amorphous magic of your still-forming frame within me was intangible; the words I penned to you every night were as real as the kicks and hiccups which shook my belly. My daughter, I have always loved you, and in the illogic of time, I have, before you were even a twinkle in my imagination, had so much to tell you.
After you were born, I was thrashing around in the stormy seas of post-partum depression, desperate to get back to you literally and figuratively. Writing your letters from work was the only way I could toss a life preserver between us. And you, darling girl, managed to pull me back to safety just by existing. (Let it never be said that you aren’t highly gifted and talented.)
Now, as I lay on this figurative beach with you a full year later, I realize this blog was no message in a bottle at all. I have met others–mothers, fathers, sons, daughters–who have lifted my thoughts from the seas to the skies, inspiring me with topics to discuss with you, teaching me how to be a different kind of parent (and person) than I might otherwise have been.
Instead, this world built of words feels like a lantern festival, where every blogger sends their wishes to be heard (be it by our children or the world) aloft. To you, Lily June (if so you ever do), thank you for reading these. To you, blogosphere, thank you for sharing in all of this with us. You have me feel like a part of a larger family, one I’m honored to share with my daughter (while I share her life stories–and mine–with you.) Thank you for your light in my life, while I write about my daughter, the light in mine.
In case you, Lily June, missed anything, here is what happened here in the last year:
I had issues in my pregnancy, but luckily, you, Lily June, were born (and born and born) beautifully. I have complained about and forgiven my body–and tried (and tried) to work on it, maybe even like it a little— even while losing sleep as a new mother. (Like, a lot of sleep, Lily.) I have also grappled with my mental health (from self-injury to post-tornado PTSD and survivor’s guilt to anxiety to OCPD) time and time again. I have even questioned my soul and its spirituality. For you, I want to be better (although our apartment has been more a mess than ever!)
I have waited most impatiently for you to speak with me, even while marveling at each unique skill you have learned, like self-soothing or smiling or feeding yourself or laughing or toddling. I have mourned not being able to breastfeed you longer or always make you smile, but you have shown me so many (MANY) ways to be happy. And I’ve also learned what you hate!
I have worshipped the wonder that is your hair, especially when your parents have been balding. I have a secret wish that you’ll wear glasses, but not makeup. Beautiful as you are, that’s not all you’re worth. You’ll someday be both tough and loving, hopefully like your father. And maybe you’ll looking forward to growing up and growing old like your mother.
I have shared with you memories of when cars have been broken, homes have been broken, hearts have been broken, and eventually, after much discussion and inspection, house purchase contracts have been broken. I have shared the death of my first pet, what it is to live through a tornado, the struggles I’ve had with my own mother and father, the problems I’ve had with depression and the month of April, In the meantime, I’ve wrestled with whether I have the right to write anything.
I have worried about money, being a working mom and a secretary, and not sending you to daycare, That being said, whatever our financial position, we can still provide you with a blue plate, a Monkaroo, vaccinations (oh, the vaccinations!), coffee, snow, an Uncle Denny, a Cousin So-So and so, so many other people and things!
I have tried to teach you the value of solitude and the worthlessness of selfies. I hope you’ll love poetry. If nothing else, I will teach you to consume with a critical eye the films of Disney, from the good and evil of The Little Mermaid, to the pros and cons of Beauty and the Beast and even the strengths and weaknesses of Aladdin. Also, I’ll teach you how to swear well, sneeze right, and correctly use the bathroom!
I hope you will be kind (and not just during the holidays) and forgiving in the face of violence. Even if you can’t (like your mother couldn’t) be Benjamin Franklin, I hope you will practice temperance, silence and order (at least sometimes). I hope when you’ve done others wrong, you will apologize (but only then). Don’t worry as much as your mother. Seriously. It’ll only send you straight to the doctor.
I’ll probably never be able to teach you how to be a drinker or a social butterfly, but I can expose you to great writers of literature, like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Frederick Douglass. I can also show you how to write a sestina, capture bokeh (kinda), use simile and metaphor, or make a fake translation. And more than that, I hope to instill in you these core values: that everyone deserves respect, that everyone deserves to be who they are, and that you deserve to choose who you are.
You need to know that your parents love you, and we love each other. Because sex is what made you, we will be talking about it regularly. So far, we’ve “discussed” consent, dating, gender, periods, cramps, kissing, heteronormativity, clothing, first boyfriends, rebound boyfriends, first loves, and (ahem) photography, but I’ve barely begun the discussion. I have so much more to say, like how I met, fell in love with, and married your father, and how that led to you being here in the first place.
I hope to protect you from harmful secrets and bullies and the cruelties of this country, but also to show you how to count your blursings, accept discipline, follow your passions. I want you to live your dreams, and to that end, we started a Bucket List (in a Jar) as a family to practice exiting our comfort zones. So far, we’ve fed the hungry, treated ourselves, baked crab rangoon, gone bowling, had a date night (sorry, no Lily included!), written letters to strangers, clothed the needy, learned new words, gotten tattoos and portraits as a whole family, driven to a strange place, and as you can see, I haven’t even written about it all yet!
Sometimes, life this past year has been a circus; othertimes, a Midwestern harvest. We’ve celebrated Mommy/Daughter PJ Day #1, #2, #3, and #4; your parents’ anniversary; Halloween; your daddy’s and my birthday; Thanksgiving; Christmas; New Year’s; St. Patrick’s Day; April Fool’s Day; Mother’s Day and, you know, just everyday together.
Some other bloggers along the way have been kind enough to honor this blog with awards like Dragons Loyalty, Encouraging Thunder, Infinity Dreams, and a Liebster (and another and another), and to challenge me with finding 3 Quotes and expressing Gratitude and that’s only the ones I’ve thus far been able to answer! And they have answered my call to write letters to you for your first birthday, which you received from bloggers Nadia, Allie, Bits, Fancy, Janey, Whiskey Cat, Alex, El, Amy, Sandra, Ellie, Lonna, Patricia, Linda, Penny, Orchidblue, Mrs. Minion, and Shelley.
Not bad for one year, eh, Lily? Here’s to many, many more, my darling (and the strangers who read over your shoulder)!
- By Šarūnas Burdulis from USA – Sea-mail. You’ve got mail!Uploaded by GiW, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30714388
- By Takeaway – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5165760