My dearest daughter,
I am writing you today so that if, for whatever God forbidden reason, I am not here on earth with you when you have your first child, you will have something to hopefully provide you with some sort of closeness to me.
As you will know by the time you read this, my mother was also not alive to see the birth of you, my beautiful baby. I know the ache you feel and the tears you have no doubt shed. If nothing else (who knows if I’ll ever finish a baby book), I wanted you to have this letter.
Know first and foremost, before I impart what little wisdom I have, that I am writing to you while you are sleeping soundly in your crib, not even seven months old. I certainly don’t have many answers to the hundreds of questions I know fill your head today, but I have all of the love in my world for you; both now as I write this and surrounding you as you read my words. In the nearly seven months that you have been in my arms you have taught me so much. Not only about myself and how to care for a newborn, but about the majesty that is watching life unfold before your eyes. My girl, it has been my greatest privilege to watch you grow.
To begin, know that regardless of the lists and the recommendations and the charts, your child will develop in their own perfect time, in their own perfect way. Don’t torment yourself by looking elsewhere for the answer to “when”. Keep your eyes on that baby because every day they will change, and you won’t always notice until they stop – stop wanting to lie on your chest, stop wanting to be cradled for hours, stop wanting to sleep next to you. It all will happen in good time. There is no one right answer or way, but connect with your inner intuition. It takes work to find it sometimes, as it may not always come naturally and can easily be overshadowed by too much information, but you really do know your child the best.
Allow others to be close to you. I know the mother-daughter bond you long for will never be there, but you have to try and let others help fill the void, even if only a little. Whomever they may be, speak your mind freely but more than anything allow yourself to be vulnerable to them. Lean on your support people. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to be weak in moments. You will need to let yourself break at times before you will be able to relax or feel relief. It’s okay to break. You will feel challenged in ways you never have so take care of yourself and do not be afraid to put yourself first time to time. Being a mom is selfless, but don’t lose touch with the things that make you who you are.
Motherhood is hard but always remember that every person is fighting their own battle that to them will not feel less than anyone else’s, mother or not. Be humble. By all means celebrate your new-found strengths and capabilities, but internalize and acknowledge that they are not greater or more significant than another’s. There is nothing more off-putting than a know-it-all, and while I am sure you’ve felt from time to time (maybe most of the time!) as if you know nothing, when you do get it right (and you will sometimes, I promise), it can be difficult to not tout it. Again, be humble.
Feed yourself. Life falls apart at the seams in our worlds when we are hungry. Do not make important decisions or speak burning words unless you have eaten in the last three hours. Some decisions and the most boiling, volcanic words cannot be taken back. Remember this especially with your spouse and your support people. I am sure they are wonderful and have come to love you incredibly, but the love of our spouse and friends isn’t unconditional. They are intricate relationships that require hard work and nurturing. Don’t poison them because you haven’t eaten a snack.
On a more serious note, I want you to know that as I write this I do not know how I feel about religion as a practice. I am still figuring out all of that for myself. I do know that I believe in God though, and I know that I believe we all have a purpose and a place in this world. I also believe in striving to identify the things that make you who you are, and in finding people to share your life with that recognize your importance. I believe that the special traits and talents people possess should be mutually cherished and encouraged by others in order to lead a fulfilling life. I believe that those characteristics are God-given so that we can connect with and feel his love through other people. I believe in God because I feel that there is a reason for all of the beauty and the pain that exists. It doesn’t matter to me what or who, but please seek out something to believe in as my hope for you is that you never feel random.
Lastly, and this is admittedly selfish of me, I’d appreciate it so if you would tell your children about me. It doesn’t have to be often or regularly, but please tell them that they are significant, that they are blessed, and remind them that love can time travel.
If you want something tangible to be reminded of me (I always found that helpful to feel my mom’s love), plant Lily of the Valley in your yard, bake gingerbread cookies at Christmas time (Grandma Esther's recipe), and listen to the song I sang you to sleep with when you were baby, Lullabye by Billy Joel.
All of my love, through all of your time,