Dear Lily June,
A conversation with a co-worker this morning reminded me of one of the most painful parts of having postpartum depression: the endless stream of articles I encountered (in researching how to fix myself then) that detailed how poor the outcomes were for children whose mothers had it. (Thanks, internet. That’s what I needed to read.)
Because a mother with postpartum depression is less likely to sing to, read to, or generally just interact with their newborn, the articles explained, the developing baby has delayed social skills and language development. I worried endlessly that after a complicated pregnancy and a traumatic delivery, I was further dooming you just by being unable to wrench myself out of the hormonal riptide I was caught in.
In irrational fear at the time that I was ruining you, I almost never stopped singing, reading, and talking to you. And your father, who stayed home with you while I went to work, diligently worked daily with you, despite the fact that he’s otherwise a pretty quiet guy.
Today, at 19 months old, your favorite toy is a book. You say over a hundred words clearly, and you have a handful of two word sentences (“Hi, mommy!” or “I pooped”) you pull out as party tricks. Sure, you pronounce your f’s like b’s (so you ask to call your Granny Gramma on my cellular bone). Sure, you say your s’s as p’s (so you enjoy pointing out, in the bathtub, the pope bubbles). But those are just the adorable quirks, I believe, of the budding poet in you.
In the meantime, I am so proud to be your Mommy, especially when I see, across decades, that the word-loving apple doesn’t fall that far from the book-geek tree.
If your parents have ruined you, Lily June, we’ve done it in the best of ways: We’ve made you a tiny word nerd. And the truth is, we could’ve done much worse, like teaching you the alphabet through the horrific short films of David Lynch. (If you choose to watch the clip below, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
If you ever suffer from depression, postpartum or otherwise, I hope you know this: You have no idea of the amazing things you have done, can or will do. Keep going. And call me, with all of your beautiful words, to tell me all about it. I promise to listen, even to what you cannot say. I promise, my darling girl, to hear you.
- By Juanedc from Zaragoza, España – LetrasUploaded by juanedc, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27828497