an open letter to my daughters: reflections on three-years-old

To my favorite girls ever,

It’s hard to believe that our lives together began three years ago (yesterday) in a hospital room where you were delivered remarkably fast after 10 weeks of bed rest and waiting and hoping you wouldn’t arrive too early. You came right on time, 35 weeks and the day after I said to a friend, “I just don’t think I can wait much longer. I’m big,uncomfortable, and bored.” Well, now. That was certainly the last time I said I was bored (no comment on the other two). The past three years have been anything but boring. Four days after you were born, when we were nicely settled at home, you girls had to head back to the hospital for a week to gain weight and stabilize. It ripped out my mommy’s heart to watch you being poked and prodded, and to only be able to touch you through the holes of an isolette. Even the word itself is so isolating. You both rallied under the watchful, kind care of the nurses and doctors at CHKD, and that week allowed me to get a little bit of rest (a whole 5 hours each night) and to manage my post-partum pre-eclampsia that had caused me swelling, fatigue, and increased blood pressure. My mom and OB/midwife took care of me while I tried to take care of you, and Daddy tried to take care of all of us. And finally we were all home (again).

Then begins the happy-yet-exhausting blur of the next six months of feedings, pumpings, diaper changes, middle-of-the-night smiles, little laughs, gazing into each other’s faces, learning each other. Lots of help from grandparents, aunts and uncles, our church community, and faraway friends who showered us with prayers and welcome gifts. And then you were six-months-old, and it was time to teach you to sleep through the night (ugh) and for you to be baptized (beautiful).

The next six months were a bit calmer; and I blinked and you were turning one with a ladybug party; and I blinked again and you were walking and talking and throwing tantrums and getting into trouble and I felt overwhelmed. The period of time between 18-months-old and 2 ½ years old was not my favorite, I’ll have to admit. I felt quite out of my element; baffled by all of the advice from different approaches on all of the variousmajor transitions you were experiencing (together): transitioning out of a crib, dropping the morning nap, potty training, solid food, becoming independent thinkers, developing wills of your own that were tested in opposition to mine. And I felt all of this more intensely because I tried to do too much. I was missing “life before kids” and the time when I felt “sidelined” during pregnancy and the first year, and I tried to jump back in too quickly. That didn’t help my dilemmas and my exhaustion and my anger in response. I needed space and quiet and rest. Soul rest. Heart refreshment, but I wasn’t sure how to get it in the 60-90 minutes you might simultaneously nap in a day.

And so God rescued me, a long and slow process during the past year or so.* You have been very patient with me, often much more so than I’ve been with you. You have been quick to forgive me when I’ve blown it yet again. You have accepted the times when “Mommy needed a break” and I escaped into a coffee shop or my room or a friend’s house for a chat, to write, to read, to breathe and exhale and make sense of me as a mom and you as my daughters. I began saying “no” to things outside of my main calling to be your mommy and Daddy’s wife. I had to remember. To bring life into focus again. To say “yes” cautiously to what God was leading me to instead of jumping in toescape what felt difficult at home. And I learned to say “yes” to what I needed from God to be refreshed so that I could say “yes” to being the mommy you needed. A mommy who wasn’t angry all the time and frustrated constantly. A mommy who, instead, sought to lean in to this stage of unpredictability, to trust God as the one controlling my time, to listen to God and to you and to friends, to go slower and be more intentional. A mommy who’s learning that writing helps me process and savor these days with you, days that do go by fast when glanced at retrospectively in terms of years but which sometimes seem to creep along immovably when experienced as minutes on a sick homebound winter day. For both the fast and the slow moments, there is grace. Amen, Hallelujah, and Cheers. Here’s to the next 30 years together …

Love,
Mommy

*posts that describe this process more fully:

Confessions of an Angry Mom, part 1, 2, & 3
A Prayer for Potty Training
Tears and Transitions
For the love of poetry
Identity lessons from “Angelina Ballerina”
The one voice that matters most
Mind the gap

4 thoughts on “an open letter to my daughters: reflections on three-years-old

  1. This took me back to their birth, and I relived some of the emotions again just reading it. A beautiful letter, reflections you will be so glad you captured in writing! And look how God has turned the corner in your mothering…He is able and faithful! Love you.

  2. Pingback: Thursday free write | hidden glory

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