06 Feb 2013, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 11 Comments.

You Are Loved


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Dear Abra,

Exactly three years ago I wrote this love letter to you.

I was just rounding the bend on the first trimester of my first – and, I’m confident now, only – pregnancy.  Never sick a single day, I remember feeling nervous that this was a bad sign, foretelling a “weak” pregnancy that might not stick, but after passing that magical 12-week mark I breathed a deep sigh of relief.  This was how I told the world about your impending arrival.  It was an ebullient time, the final gasp of winter before spring broke through the cold, crusty days.  On our last Valentine’s Day as a family of two your dad and I spent the day working on a do-it-yourself bathroom remodel that we had just begun, one we were certain would take a few short months and instead wrapped up just a few weeks before you were born, a desperate race against the clock.  But that day we were full of the bright optimism that one feel’s at the beginning of such projects, before the inevitable budget-busting, time-sucking setbacks dig in their muddy heels and threaten to sully everything.  Before reality has a chance to cast its long shadow over the excitement.  There is a photo of me taken that day, standing in the midst of the construction zone, pretending to shampoo my hair where the new shower head would be, a slight bulge peeking out just above my waistband, luminous smile swiped across my face, oblivious to what an all-consuming project this would end up being.

We were such bad judges of so many things.

Reading those words I wrote to embryo-you feels like opening a message in a bottle, a barnacled time capsule sent over the currents of three life-changing years.  They are years that have simultaneously worn away my edges, like a piece of dull sea glass, and bolstered me, depositing more sands on my shores.  When I read that letter, it is clear that I had no idea of the magnitude or nature of the challenges that were in store, only a vague notion that things would be tough.  Everything has been infinitely harder when we ever could have imagined.  What I see in that letter, even in the folds of the uncertainties, is blind confidence, the kind that every love affair begins with.  They are the capricious words of young love.  I do not doubt the love I expressed for you in that first letter, but it was abstract and incomplete.  The worries I felt were the ones that every mother feels for her baby, not the specific ones that I feel for you, my daughter, Abra:  that your inherent clumsiness will inevitably result in you losing a front tooth on the playground, that your soft-hearted nature will lead to you feeling perpetually pushed over, that you will absorb the anger and frustration I sometimes unfairly cast in your direction.

These early years have chastened me, but my love for you has matured.  Despite what I predicted (and secretly hoped for) in that first letter, except for your infancy, we haven’t taken you out to eat much.  You have never been content to sit in a high chair, happily popping Cheerios into your mouth and ogling at other diners through batted eyelashes.  Instead, going out to eat is generally a three-ring circus, your father and I the frantic lion-tamers.  But a few Sundays ago we took our chances at an early dinner at a new burger restaurant in our neighborhood.  I nervously peered in the window, seeing not a single child or high chair in sight.  But we were warmly welcomed and settled into a quiet corner booth, where you arranged yourself on folded knees, two clothespins tucked neatly under you, and observed the bustling scene.  I ordered you a root beer, which delighted you to no end and gave your father and me 20 solid minutes of uninterrupted adult conversation, and we all gasped and then giggled when you accidentally poked a finger through the soggy Styrofoam cup, so firm was your grip on this rare and delicious treat.  And when that was done you happily ate a small plate of French fries, carefully swiping each one through a shallow trench of ketchup, another infrequent indulgence.  After dinner we walked into the dusky evening, clouds scuttling across a moody sky, pink light illuminating the Sandias.  You jumped up on a wall in a parking lot, spotting one of the stenciled “You Are Loved” signs that pop up from time to time around town, the clandestine work of a sentimental graffiti artist.  I snapped a photo as you hopped along the wall, holding your papa’s hand, happy as a clam.  It was an exceptional and precious afternoon, specific and totally complete.

Loving being pregnant is different than loving being a mother.  Loving a person is different than loving the idea of a person.  Although you have always been loved, what I know now is that I love you, and I love being your mother.

Love,

Your Mama

This “love letter” is part of Momalom’s Love It Up ChallengeThe first letter I wrote to Abra won the last challenge three years (has it really been three years?) ago. 

 

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11 Comments

February 6, 2013 4:36 pm

Melissa

Oh, this is so beautiful. You are right, the dreams we dream during first pregnancies can be quite abstract. So often the real child is so different from the imagined one, but also, we can turn out to be very different as mothers than what we had hoped/expected. Abra is lucky to have you. xo

February 6, 2013 6:40 pm

Kristen @ Motherese

That picture! That picture! It is just perfect and, apparently, the perfect cap on that lovely evening. (I think you need to order some photo Valentines stat.)

I love what you say here, 2 1/2 years into this journey. These words especially describe perfectly the way I felt when I was more concerned with which diaper pail to order than with the actual challenges and joys of mothering: “blind confidence, the kind that every love affair begins with.” It has been a pleasure getting to know you during these years of your life and I consider it a pleasure to know you, your beautiful girl, and you, as her mother.

xo

February 7, 2013 12:47 am

Contemporary Troubadour

“Loving being pregnant is different than loving being a mother. Loving the idea of a person is different than loving a person.” Key distinctions I will tuck away to remind myself of later! I think I’ve been hesitant to let myself love the idea of this soon-to-arrive baby because I don’t want to fool myself into thinking he’ll be anything like it in reality (he will be whoever he is). It’s a form of protection for both of us, I imagine — my own parents loved an idea of who they wished me to be and never quite learned how to see me as who I was as a kid. Abra is lucky that you see her as she is and love her just so.

February 8, 2013 4:15 pm

Lara

Hi, I just found your blog through Momalom’s Love Fest challenge. This letter to your daughter is beautiful and spot-on. I look forward to following your journey. Best to you and your lovely little one.
~Lara

February 8, 2013 4:17 pm

Justine

I love that you can compare your letter now to the one you wrote before Abra was, well, Abra. I agree that as parents we were warned of the challenges in parenthood and we brace ourselves for it, but nothing even comes close to the reality. It’s hard and it’s frustrating times a hundred. But conversely, it’s wonderful and amazing and humbling and rewarding times a thousand. We couldn’t possibly have prepared for that either. However, I can live with that surprise. :)

February 11, 2013 3:51 am

Nina

I love this!! Also love the name Abra by the way.

February 14, 2013 8:12 pm

denise

A gorgeous, thoughtful and honest love letter. I nodded at your sentiments as I recognized so much of my own love maturation in your words.

Thank you. xo

February 16, 2013 5:47 pm

Sarah @ Repicturing Women

Beautiful words on love :) Thanks for sharing… I want to see the picture during the bathroom remodel! So glad you’re keeping your weekly commitment to the blog. I always love reading your stuff. Hope Mexico is treating you well dear friend.

February 27, 2013 7:17 pm

Jen

Well, there you go. What an opportunity to write this letter after that first (which I remember, but the links above are broken, BTW). Nothing has changed me more than motherhood. Nothing has been more difficult or more fulfilling than motherhood. And yet, to know the universality of motherhood, even in its vastly varied specific circumstances, makes it all just what we do. We love. We are proud. We stand in awe. We keep going on and on, loving it up. :) Thanks for joining in again!

March 14, 2013 4:57 am

Anne

Oh wow…how did I miss this? Really lovely. It’s strange how worries (about your child) become so much more specific and real when they finally arrive and make their little personalities known. But the love is more specific too, which is so crazy-rewarding. I remember well that first letter you wrote.

April 20, 2013 10:24 pm

Celeste

We have the three ring circus with our two year old, too. That is *exactly* how it feels.

And I’m glad to see you posting regularly. I love your writing.

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