February 22, 2013
Letters to Everly
I’ve always said that the part of parenthood I have had the hardest time coming to terms with is the wide open vulnerability of loving another soul so much. The force with which it hit me after you were born was unlike anything I had ever known. I spent the first months of your life worrying far too much about anything that could possibly harm you. I drove myself crazy. It made me unreasonable and it felt consuming and it was a long road for me to find the voice of reason inside myself to balance it.
My first instinct is to always jump in and be the barrier between you and the world. I want to protect you from everything that could potential cause you harm or sadness. More and more every day, I find myself having an internal battle between the part of me that wants to fix everything and the part of me that knows it’s important for you to learn to trust in yourself and your own abilities to navigate new experiences.
That voice of reason that it took me so long to find after your birth - it is growing stronger and louder with each year that passes. While every cell in my body wants nothing more than to be a helicopter mom who shadows your every move, I know that is not what you or Arlo need from me. I am always trying to toe the line between keeping you safe and giving you enough space and encouragement to find your own way. Let me tell you, sweet girl, it is incredibly hard at times.
I’m sure I will annoy you many times as you grow up with my cautious nature, but I also know that I can’t fix the world for you. I can’t bubble wrap every surface, prevent you from ever being hurt or keep out all of the bad that exists in this world.
I can’t do it. And what kind of life would that be anyway?
Today I watched you climb to the top of a rope ladder on the big kid side of the playground. Your little hands held on so tightly as you went higher and higher and everything in me wanted to go and put a hand on you. But instead I stopped, took a deep breath and said to myself, Let her climb.
I stood a few feet away, every muscle in my body ready to leap forward should you slip, but I stood my ground and smiled and told you that you were doing a great job.
The look of pride on your face when you reached the top by yourself assured me I had done the right thing in staying back.
It again reminded me of the internal battle I will fight until you and Arlo are grown. I will fight it on your first day of school. And the first time someone breaks your heart. And the first trip you take away without me. And the day you get your drivers license. And the day you move out of our house.
I can assure you that at every turn, a voice inside me will be shouting. “Wait! Stop! Let me help you. Let me go too.”
But the reasonable side will win, as it always does.
I will tell you how much I love you and remind you that I am here if you need me. Every part of me will be waiting eagerly to give you support or encouragement should you ask me. But I will do my best to take a step back, and whisper to myself again
Let her climb.
Wave to me from the top, baby.
I love you,
January 11, 2013
Everly and Arlo,
Just a small thought today. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that you exist- That all the cells of your body can be traced to your father and me. That your flesh came from my flesh. That those precious fingers and lips and eyelashes first grew within me. It seems beyond reason that such perfection could come from someone broken and imperfect.
I run my hands across the soft skin of your bellies and think of how complicated and mysterious the process of making another human being feels to me…so technical and holy that it should be well above my means. Yet, here you are.
Whenever I doubt my own capabilities or find some part of myself ugly or flawed… I think of the tremendous thing I have been a part of. I dreamed of you and grew you and birthed you. In your bones lives my strength. In your heart, my courage. And in your small arms, all the love I have ever known. No matter how I fail or fall in the days ahead, you have allowed me the chance to be a part of something pure and good in my life. Thank you for existing. Thank you for being mine.
I love you,
October 31, 2012
Little Firsts: Autumn Leaf Pile
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus
Your first introduction to an autumn leaf pile. This is it, my babies. The pure. The free. The joy-inducing. The simple and profound. This is what the good stuff in life looks like.
June 11, 2012
Letters to Everly
On Saturday night your father and I dressed you and your brother in pajamas, put Arlo to bed, and then the three of us went outside. It was beginning to grow dark and the lightening bugs were just beginning to twinkle in the dark corners of our yard.
Daddy caught one of them to show you and the two of you stood there, watching as the tiny bug flashed a bright glow against your father’s cupped hand. I went inside to fetch you a mason jar to collect them. Around the yard you went, pointing them out as he caught them one by one and then gingerly placed them down into the container covered with a cloth. You were mesmerized as you held tightly to the glass and watched them flash.
Once you had an impressive little collection, daddy lifted off the cloth and we watched as they each flew out and away into the night sky. We gave you a glow stick to dance around with and you stuck it down the back of your pajamas and flapped your arms and we laughed at our very own little lightening bug as she danced. It was an hour past your bedtime as we drew pictures of the little bugs on our sidewalk with chalk and gave them silly names.
As a girl of the south, you will have many opportunities over the course of your childhood to chase lightening bugs around our yard. It was something I grew up doing and my mother before me. It’s a right of passage around these parts and I’ll never forget the first introduction between our tiny daughter & this wonder of the the natural world. These are the things that stay with us - you dancing barefoot in the yard. The quiet pierced occasionally by the distinctive high pitched squeal of your excitement. And your head cocked towards the sky as the little bugs flashed brightly against the dark.
I felt honored to be there with you as you experienced it for the first time. The night you met your first lightening bug - it is the little, seemingly insignificant memories like these that I’ve learned anchor themselves most securely in the happiest part of our heart.
May 22, 2012
Letters to My Children
Ten of my greatest hopes for each you…
1. That your father and I instill in both of you a love of education and books and seeking knowledge. Read everything. Fill your head with philosophies and history and science. Education is one of the few things in life that can never be taken away from you.
2. Travel the world. Experience as many different countries and cultures as possible. Take every opportunity to go and do and see!
3. Seek out your passions. Grow them! Be they music, art, dance, sports… whatever! You are capable of reaching whatever goal you can dream up. Invest in yourself and your talents.
4. Do not be afraid to speak up when you feel something is unfair, unjust or harmful. We are all deserving of kindness. There is no cause or difference worthy of belittling or bullying others. Doing the right thing is not always the popular thing, but it will always be worth it.
5. I hope that one day you know what it feels like to love another person with all of your heart. Take your time (lots and lots of time!). Don’t rush into matters of the heart. Enjoy your youth and be carefree but when you’re ready, loving someone else faithfully and completely will be one of the greatest gifts of your life.
6. And along those same lines, I hope that you know what it feels like to be loved by another with all of their heart. When you do fall in love, make sure that person is willing to give the same to you. You are worth the effort. True love is an equal partnership.
7. May your heartbreaks in life be minimal. They will happen. And they can feel so consuming and paralyzing but know that they are part of your story. The hurt will shape you and it will make you a wiser, better person. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is allow yourself to be vulnerable.
8. Have a group of friends who will be loyal and encouraging. Over the course of your life you will hold so many different friendships - some of them good and some of them detrimental. Don’t waste time on anyone who is not good to you. Let the lessons from all of these relationships allow you to build a circle of friends who will always be there to stand with you in the highest and lowest moments of your life.
9. No matter what happens to you, remember that your father and I are here to care for you and guide you and support you. Even if we disagree with you, don’t ever be afraid to come to us for help. We may not always have the answer or the means, but we’ll be in it together. Our love for you is without limits or conditions and it will always be that way.
10. And lastly, the most important hope of all. Never forget that faith in and love for Jesus Christ is all you need. Above the love of a partner, the friendship of your peers, even your family. Let Him be the north star that guides your life.
When I think of your future, my mama heart can barely contain the hope it holds for you. You are so small now, but the days are moving fast and I am taking every opportunity to be purposeful and open about my dreams for you. But these words are just that … my dreams… merely a launching pad for the possibilities of your life. Who will you become? What will you achieve? Only time will reveal those things. I am certain that the very best thing I will ever do in my life has already begun. In whatever you accomplish, you will be my greatest legacy.
February 22, 2012
Letters to Everly
You have always been a daddy’s girl. From the very start, really. I’ve had the great honor of protecting you, singing to you, loving on you and providing for you - but so often, when you feel sick or sad or just need some extra comforting, it’s daddy that you want. Your affections for me have been great, but it’s always been pretty obvious that daddy hangs the moon in your world.
I’ve tried hard not to let it get me down. The two of you have spent so much time together during your days while I’ve been at work. Since Arlo was born, I’ve been available even less as I’ve needed to nurse him and take care of some of his special needs. I feel guilty sometimes and worry that I’ve failed you in some way. But I try to remind myself that my experiences with you are always precious and there will be many stages in your preferences as you grow. I know my time with you will come. Mamas and daughters get to do special things together that no one else can do and there is a role that only we can fulfill in each other’s lives.
Recently, you’ve started to show me this. I am realizing just how much you observe and want to mimic me. You’ve been asking to wear a pony tail “like mommy’s” which is a first as you usually just rip out whatever I put in your hair. You like to sit at your desk and bang on your little laptop and say “I workin’” like mommy. You pick up your babies and rock them and say “Shhhh. Shhhh baby. I mommy” In the evenings after I put your brother to sleep, I will find you snuggled up with daddy on the couch in your jammies watching a little bit of Dora before bed. You’ve started to say “I want mommy” and Daddy and I will trade places. You snuggle your little body right into me and I play with your hair. We tell pretend secrets (you like to whisper gibberish in my ear and then laugh like you told me the best joke ever). We talk about your day and what we will do tomorrow.
It is overwhelming me with happiness, Everly. That you are seeking out one on one time with me even when daddy is there. That you are mimicking me when you play. That I am getting your undivided attention without you asking “Where’s daddy?” or saying “Daddy do it!” Last night I put you to bed and I laid down with you for a little while. You wrapped your small arms arms around my neck and just looked at me. I planted a kiss on your cheek and you giggled. You gave me one back and we went back and forth like this for a few minutes. I whispered I love you. you whispered “I you too”. and when I closed the door behind me on the way out, I marveled at the affectionate, joyful little girl you have become.
You will always be a daddy’s girl and that’s something to be proud of. You are so lucky to have a daddy that is so involved in your care and well being. But thank you, baby girl, for giving me a place on your pedestal too. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I’ve wanted it for so long. Thank you for reminding me that my role in your life is unique and lovely. And for making mama feel like even though daddy hung the moon, you still need me to hang your stars.
I wish for ten thousand nights with you.
I love you,
January 4, 2012
Letters to Everly.
(A blurry account of Everly’s first carousel ride. She spent most of it crying out for mama and saying “all done!”)
My darling little two year old. Happy happy birthday to you!
I realize now why mamas everywhere on their children’s birthdays say reminiscing things like “On this day X number of years ago, I was bringing you into the world.” It’s because it will always feel like it was yesterday, whether you replace that X with 2 or 22 years. Every year on this day for the rest of my life, I will relive the power and emotion of that experience.
Truly it feels like just yesterday I was holding your tiny, pink body against mine. I was delirious with love and a little shock that all of those months of anticipation and planning had come and gone so fast. You have changed everything about me, little Dove. I move and act and think differently since you were first laid in my arms. I have more purpose behind my reasons and more motivation to my actions.
I have watched you grow from an infant, to a baby, to a toddler in what feels like a single breath and at every stage I have said “This is my favorite age” because they have all felt exactly so. You keep us laughing and guessing and entertained every single day. What a joy you are to your father and I as a daughter and to Arlo as a role model and big sister.
I am so proud of your creativity and energy and the way you are already welcoming and engaging the world around you. You are so lovely in your smallness, in your brave spirit, and in the sweetness of your heart. Here’s to two years of this beautiful life, Everly Veda. On this very day two years past, in the last hours of the night, I was bringing you into the world - and it was the start of everything.
I can’t wait for the gift of this next year with you. and the one after that. and a lifetime of watching you become. The whole world is yours for the taking and I have no doubt that’s exactly what you’ll do.
I love you with my entire being,
December 11, 2011
This photo is blurry and you are making a funny face, but I have to put it here anyway. I like the way it makes me feel when I look at it. It instantly transports me to this moment with you. Early morning, apple juice running off the end of your chin, that wild hair we can never tame, and the bedsheets pulled over our heads in a makeshift tent.
As always my dear girl, living these moments with you is a privelege.
November 28, 2010
Letters to Everly.
This little blog is full of your milestones and firsts. So here’s a big one. This is the first time you met the Atlantic ocean. It’s been a busy year for us as a family and we’re a little ashamed that it took us until the end of November to introduce you to something so important.
Your father and I have spent more years than we can even remember dancing in the sand on the Carolina shore. trying to out run the rushing tide. Making sand castles. Having our hair blown by the salty breeze.
and now it’s your turn to know how it feels to unleash your spirit here. Despite the cold and drizzly weather, it was pretty obvious how you felt about the experience. As we stood there watching you take it all in, the wind carried your laughter out to sea.
And I made a promise right there that I would never keep you away so long again.