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Beefore You: A Letter To My Daughter

baby in swingDear Bee,

It’s quiet tonight. You’re asleep in your crib on those perfect pinstriped sheets of gray and I keep thinking of all the things I can’t wait to tell you in the morning, but you’re only nine months old and can’t yet comprehend the weight of my words. So instead, I think of what I’ll tell you when you’re older. When you understand more, or when you become practiced in championship eye-rolling in response to my embarrassing sentimentality.

And I’ll tell you so much, Bee. I’ll tell you how I met your father and how we moved to Los Angeles on a whim so he could pursue his dreams. And how you weren’t really in the plans then, but how quickly plans change, and how necessary it is to change with them. I’ll tell you about how we moved to the midwest because family is the most important thing in the world. How you are the most important thing in the world.

And I’ll tell you everything else. About life and love, and about how I was a real live person before you came along. A person that didn’t wake up with bags under her eyes, except for those select few mornings when your father and I would stay up entirely too late watching reruns of The Cosby Show and eating Chinese take-out. A person that didn’t smell of the unfortunate combination of digested breast milk and unwashed hair. A person that wore heels and fancy dresses and never left the house without a dab of mascara.

A person that was made all the better when she became your mother.

And even though I don’t miss those days of carefree spontaneity and TV marathons, I do often think of who I used to be, pre-baby. Pre-you. And I think of every detail I can’t wait to share with you:

That the hair you pull each day inspired my first novella: Autohairography.
It was never published in the way I dreamt it would be, but I’m ever-so-proud of it. You will be, too, because I’m going to force you to read it when you’re older in an effort to keep you as far away from Sun-In as possible. You’ll see. And you’ll thank me when your hair isn’t the same rust-colored shade of an overstuffed sofa upholstered in 1982.

The eyes that greet you each morning once saw Bono in a coffee shop in Los Angeles.
At least, I think it was Bono. There was a security guard, and a man that resembled Bono very much so. And many, many fans. So I’m going to say yes, it was Bono. And you likely have no idea who Bono is, do you? Oh, Bee.

The lips that kiss your forehead first kissed your father ten years ago.
He was my first love, your father, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought I’d had many first loves, and you will too, Bee. But your true first love is the one you choose to love. The one you choose to commit to, despite tough times and fights in the kitchen and dirty boxer shorts scattered throughout the bathroom floor. Your first love is the one you’ll decide to spend the rest of your life with. And what a lucky person that will be.

The voice that sings you lullabies used to perform in a show choir.
I will add, however, that the above voice was quickly demoted to a lip-syncing position because although I was a lively dancer on stage, I was also innately tone-deaf. (I’m sorry for all of those lullabies, by the way, sweet Bee. I’m trying.)

The hands that bathe you fold in prayer each night.
I pray for your protection. For your future. For opportunities and experiences and role models. I pray that you will be comfortable and content and never face hardship. And because I can’t guarantee any of those things, I pray that, most of all, you will learn to know happiness.

The legs you cling to when you’re feeling shy appeared in an advertisement for GAP.
They are legs that were inherited from her mother, and they are smashing indeed. (I think I gave them to you, too, you lucky thing.)

The feet that balance your belly in a riveting game of ‘Airplane’ once walked out of an executive office suite to pursue my dreams of becoming a writer.
I am a writer now, Bee, and I’m grateful every day for that gift. I get to empower, encourage, educate. I get to share my words with thousands of people. I get to share myself with thousands of people. I can’t wait for you to share yourself, too, in whatever way you choose. Because you have much to offer this world. I see it in your smile, and I feel it as you fall asleep on my chest at night.

Bee, you’re growing so fast, changing and transforming into a new person each time I greet you in the morning. And that’s what we do as people, dear. We grow. We change. We transform ourselves into better people, kinder humans. We become women, then mothers. We leave the old and embrace the new, replacing TV marathons with teething rings. And then we replace teethings rings with carpool lanes and carpool lanes with high school diplomas. And soon you’ll become your own transformation, and I’ll be back to eating Chinese take-out on the sofa with your father, no longer smelling of digested milk (but likely of mothballs).

Indeed, it is a quiet night tonight. And in a few moments I’ll be tiptoeing into your room to watch you slumber on those pinstriped sheets. Because tomorrow morning you’ll have changed, and tonight will be but a memory of the baby you once were. Of the woman I once was. Of the mother I am.

And of the person I can’t wait to watch you become.

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