Today you are a beautiful, bright, smart and joyful two year old. If you could read this today, you’d surely correct me and make sure that I mention that you’re “almost” three. For the past two Saturdays I’ve been at school taking a class about eating disorders. I thought about you a lot as I sat in my classroom and I want to share with you some of the things that occurred to me as I learned more about this topic that affects so many girls’ (and boys’) lives.
First, I want you to know that daddy and I loved you, even before we ever saw your sweet face. That love had nothing to do with how you’d look, it was the very idea of you; the joy you might bring to our family, the person you might grow to be, and the endless possibilities. The first promise that I make to you today as I type you this letter is that this will never change. We promise to you that we will never measure your worth in sizes or numbers or physical appearance. You are, and always will be of immeasurable worth to us and none of that has anything to do with your body. True and unconditional love is the love of your essence; your being, your soul. That is what we have for you, Sophie.
One of my favorite moments these days is when I hear your feet on the hardwood floors as you gallop in to my bedroom in the morning. You are sure that you grow stronger overnight so each morning you hurry to my side of the bed, flex your arm and excitedly beg me to check your muscles. Strength is something you are so proud of, and you are strong, Sophie, in so many ways. Our hope for you is that, over the years, you find some way to continue being proud of your strength. Strong legs can carry you wherever you dream to go, and strong arms will allow you to hug your friends and family tight to you when you are so moved. There are other ways to be strong, Sophie, and though you don’t know about them yet, you will begin to understand them more as you grow and learn and have more experiences. In Buddhism, some of the most important ones are called the Five Strengths. They are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Our second promise to you today is that we’ll be here to support you in all of the above; to help teach you, guide you, and most importantly, remind you of your strengths that are not as easily seen to the eye because those may be the most important, Sophie, and the ones we sometimes find most easy to question or forget about in ourselves.
Last and not least, Sophie, I want to promise to you today and for a lifetime that if and when the day comes when you question any of the above, your dad and I are here to love you and cherish you and remind you of your worth in the world. That worth will never be measured by how tall you are, what number you see on your scale, what size you buy when you shop for new clothes or anything else so basic. You are so much more important than that, so much more valuable. You are here for a purpose Soph and it is up to you to find out what that purpose may be. No matter what paths you take, what decisions you make, no matter what parts of yourself that you reveal to us over time, it cannot and will not change our love for you.
I’ve heard people say that life is made up of moments. Those moments when you realize some truth, or moments that truly touch you to the core, those are the times that I think we probably reflect back on, or at least the feeling that they provide, at some time when we realize it’s all fleeting.
A few nights ago we loaded up the kids and drove to St. Paul to visit a brewpub that D.Jones and I used to frequent when we were younger and single (or newly married) and could walk from our highrise condo. It was the spot for many a late night cocktail after a show, many a dinner spent planning our wedding, a trip to Europe, or even discussing how life would change when our first baby would be born. We got to know the owner and the staff and it was a place that felt like home. After we got married, when life slowed down a bit because our dreams of expecting our first babe had become a reality, we would walk our Yorkie Lola up to the brewpub patio for a light dinner and they would bring her a bowl of water and maybe even a treat as we sat there wondering how our lives would change in the upcoming months.
Walking in, we both quickly began reminiscing about those times, as the kids sat at the bar, ordered kiddy cocktails and we waited for a seat. Although it’s been 6 years or so since we lived down the street, our old bartender was still there, except this time we had two children in tow and our lives are clearly quite different. He brought them crayons and holiday pictures to color and chatted them up like we were still regulars and we were in some small town local establishment, not the middle of downtown St. Paul. It felt good.
After we left, we decided to head to a drive-through holiday light show for the kids. Enroute, we passed Regions Hospital, the place were Cooper J. made his (quite lengthy) entrance in to the world. Doug and I pointed it out to him and Doug teased “I think I even see the exact window to our room”. Coops asked me some questions about his actual birth, knowing that it involved surgery he’s always curious about some details. He wanted to know if it hurt and I told him “No, not at all. I was too excited to meet you.” He asked “Did you get to meet me, even though you had surgery?” I told him that I did, and that Daddy met him first, but that the nurses and his daddy quickly brought him up to where I could see him and meet him for the first time. He had a few more questions about what happened after that and I explained to him that the nurses thought his daddy was pretty funny because they told him they were going to bring Cooper to the nursery to get him cleaned up and do the normal tests that are necessary, but that his daddy was not having it and insisted he’d go along to make sure everything was okay. Cooper laughed and said “Daddy, didn’t you know that the nurses could take good care of me?” Doug’s answer, through a bit of a choked up voice was “I just wanted to be close to you, buddy. I needed to stay close to you.”
I glanced over and saw Doug smiling and trying to blink back a tear as he remembered that special moment. To him, that is probably one of “those” moments. For me, he’d just created another one.
She is restless in her room today. I go to her. I ask her if she wants to nap with me, instead. Rules are meant to be broken. She follows me to my room with her pink fuzzy blankie. We lay Yin-Yang. She says she wants her toes on my pillow, so I lay on my side, facing her. She rests her head on my bent legs. She curls in to me. She won’t fit here for much longer, I think. She notices shadow play on the ceiling. “It’s the sunshine through the curtains, baby girl” I tell her. She murmurs understanding as her breathing regulates and deepens. Christmas doggie peeks out from her blankie, tucked in carefully beside her. I decide I don’t want to sleep anymore. The view is too tempting. She falls asleep swiftly, comforted by my presence, but not as much as I am by hers. The soundtrack is Cooper’s muffled conversation in the backyard. From snippits I can tell he is telling a neighbor about first grade. The leaves are rustling in the breeze. The curtains float, allowing glimmers of sunshine through that paint gold swatches on her hair and highlight the roundness left in her cheeks and the remaining chubbiness of her hand. Hands that grow longer and leaner every day. Too quickly for her mommy, but not quickly enough for a baby girl who longs to be a big girl. I pray that my memory is a strong enough video recorder to save these moments. I dream that they can be replayed many times, this relaxation tape for my soul. I dare to brush some damp hair away from her eyes. She sighs. I gaze. Pure love.
First off….my confession. It’s been almost 9 months since my last post. What!? Perhaps that is why my crazy is snaking it’s way back in to my life. My writing is often an outlet that is not unlike a pressure valve. Pouring my thoughts out on to paper, er, well, screen, I guess, releases some of the stuff rumbling around up in that noggin’ of mine and allows room for other stuff. When I neglect to throw stuff out, the pressure builds. Shame on me for being so neglectful. I blame grad school.
That said, as I was school supply shopping with my favorite boy this morning, he was, as always, full of interesting questions. This morning’s car ride home from Target focused on death. Or I guess, in Cooper’s thoughts, the lack thereof. This morning my boy told me that we never die, we just get so old that we go somewhere else to hang out. I like that. He proceeded to tell me that we start out in heaven, we come here for a while, and then we return to heaven. I like that too. Weird how easy it is to find comfort in a 6 year old’s perspective sometimes.
Anyway, he then asked me what heaven looks like. I told him I don’t know because I’ve never been there…which didn’t jive with what he’d just told me about how we all come from there, so he corrected me and said “You mean you don’t remember.” Possibly, my boy…possibly. So I told him that I think it’s too pretty for us to even understand, to which he told me, “Yeah…I think you’re right. I’m pretty sure there is tons of super green grass and roses everywhere.” I think I like his picture of it.
What was weird was that while he was telling me this, I thought to myself “I sorta dig pretty, lush grass and roses…that’s cool”, but it wouldn’t be what I would visualize if I were to paint my own picture of heaven. Then I thought to myself, “but if that’s his picture of heaven and that’s where he’s going….then I’m happy to give up my picture of heaven and join him in his.” I’m thinking lots of parents would share my sentiment. It’s sort of what we all do as parents, isn’t it? We happily give up our own visions, if even for a time, and join along on our little one’s path for a while. I’m so lucky to be on his….
Some of you may have read my prior post about some neighbors who are having rough times. I’m excited that I get to share a part II with you all, but shhhh….it also involves a secret, so don’t tell.
After I had posted my blog, I got a note from a friend on facebook. This is someone I went to high school with, but who now lives out of state. A state far, far away. She said that she had some things that she’d like to send to these folks who are in need of some help and that it would include toys from her own boys as well as maybe even some things for the older sister whom I’d mentioned in the story.
Not knowing my neighbor’s last names or any other information, I set about trying to think of a way to get the details needed so that this friend could get to work on her amazing gift. I didn’t need to think long because the next day as I was returning from some errands, the neighbor peeked out of her door and yelled “We’ll be over tomorrow morning if that’s okay!” It sure was, because when they arrived, I asked this neighbor to please spell her name, first and last, and give me their exact address (I didn’t know if they were upstairs or downstairs in their duplex), for my *wink wink* Christmas cards.
I quickly sent the info to my faraway friend and now have received confirmation that indeed, she and her family gathered and wrapped a box full of things for this struggling family and they will have anonymous Christmas presents delivered soon.
I am hopeful that I’m peeking out of my own window at just the right time to see this precious gift delivered. I mean wow. Just wow. I’m blown away by the kindness and love that people are able to show relative strangers. What an amazing, beautiful thing to do and what a fine display of the true meaning of the Christmas season.