I thought of this as a letter to my baby, but I know you won’t be a baby forever, so I’m reverting to what your dad and I called you in the womb. “The Kid.” A generic name, but for a very good reason. We didn’t find out whether you were a boy or girl ahead of time, partly because it’s more fun. . . . but mostly to avoid stereotyping you. . . . I honestly can’t imagine how mine and your father’s genes, plus a good dose of environment and your own unique soul will combine.
I suspect that you’ll have great eyes but a troublesome nose (sorry about that). I’m hoping you get your dad’s analytical, inquisitive intelligence and my appreciation of the beauty and irony and mystery in life. I pray that you’re blessed with the gift of knowing who you are and what you want, and that you have the grace and grit to recover from unexpected detours and inevitable roadblocks.
Sweetie, I don’t know what kind of world you’re being born into, but I suppose that’s been the lament of every mother since Eve. I’m not sure what kind of mother you drew, either. I procrastinate and I’m hyper-critical of everything, and I’m pretty lazy about keeping up with housework, although messes make me crazy. I yell when I get angry. I’m impatient. I will try to minimize my known shortcomings’ effects on your life, but I can really only hope I don’t mess you up too badly.
I hope you get to know my dad. . . . He knows kids, because he still is one: interested and curious about each day and every person. . . . He taught himself how to ski and play tennis, and.... he's won every race in greater Chicagoland for his age group. He says things like “Egads", but he swears a lot, too. He whistles the tune of “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy..." He’s hopeless at the computer and with technical things but he embraces them nonetheless. And he’s so excited to have a grandchild!
I hope you get to know my mom, too. . . . She set the motherhood bar very, very high and I’m not sure I’ll be able to reach it. She makes everything better, bringing order to chaos seemingly without effort. She is thoughtful and creative and determined. She seems all business, but don't be fooled. She keeps a little clay plaque that says “Damn everything but the circus” . . . . At the Fourth of July parade in my conservative home town, she yelled at our congressman as he drove by in a convertible about his refusal to support the Equal Rights Amendment. When Aunt Janet came over, they played jacks on the kitchen floor for over an hour and laughed so hard we all came to watch. Her love manifested itself in all she did. She created such a cozy nest that it is still hard to be away from it sometimes. . . . And she can’t wait to hold you in her arms.
Even though we live on the East coast, I hope your childhood resembles in some way my Midwestern upbringing. We had breathing space. We used to drive up to Wisconsin or Michigan to visit our relatives and the fields and sky went on forever. . . . We’d come home from school and call up a friend to come over and play. We ran wild throughout the neighborhood without fear.
Oh, kiddo. How do we give you a stable home but also the skills and hunger to leave it? How do we support you yet challenge you? How do we know when to let you cry it out and when to try to make it all better? How does anyone know these things? All I can tell you is that I will try. Baby, I will try so hard. And I will hope and believe that love will fill in the gaps.
Your dad is getting very excited about your arrival. He is running around trying to take care of everything, and I think he’s a little nervous. You got lucky with your father. He will move heaven and earth to make things okay for the people he loves. He’s a lot of fun and he believes people are generally good, which means that he’ll probably let you get away with more than your cynical mom. His hopes for you–they are high! But really, all he wants is for you to be well and happy. And that’s all I want, too.
We can’t wait to meet you, kiddo. Just two more days now!
Love, your mother.