Our first night at the hospital, you laid next to me while I watched you sleep. I felt the rhythm of your breathing. I gazed at the precious swoop of your nose, the soft flutter of your eyelashes, the length of your fingers, the curve of your cheeks. I soaked in all the little details of you. I promise I won’t do that when you’re a teenager.
There’s so much I want to say to you, so I do – when we’re rocking. Dozing off to sleep. When you’re showing me your big open eyes that sometimes get crossed when you try to focus on my nose. You won’t remember any of those moments, so let me write them down. Maybe if I’m lucky you’ll read this when I’ve taken away your car because you’ve lost your damn teenage mind. Maybe you’ll remember in your spirit what your mind was too little to retain or understand.
First things first, you toot a lot. No really, you toot like one of those farting machines you get at a special gifts store. Sometimes I think it’s your dad, but he swears it’s you and then we argue because I can’t believe my tiny baby farts like John Goodman. But you do. And I love you.
Speaking of love, it’s important you understand my love for you. It’s the kind of love that burns up from my chest until it catches in my throat. It stays there bound and intrusive – I have to ignore it just to get through my day. On our first day home from the hospital, your Nani was over making dinner in the kitchen and Daddy was playing with our bulldog, Bruno. I took you into your room and shut the door. Just you and me alone, I broke the dam and let the love free. It overwhelmed me as I wept over you. I was given the responsibility to be your mother and I felt the full weight of it in that moment. You were 7 lbs and 6 ounces, roughly the weight of the world.
I have this thing where I obsessively watch your breathing. Parenting is just torture. I mean, honestly – after a long day, I finally get you down to sleep and then I just sit there and nervously watch your breathing? What kind of sickness is this motherhood love?! It doesn’t help that you sleep with your hands to your sides like a vampire. If you’re breathing too softly for my liking, I’ll even brush your cheek to get you to squirm. The last time I did that, I scared you and woke you up. After that, you were fussy for the next hour. I’m in a love prison.
When I breastfeed you (we had a rough go in the beginning too – you can thank me with a Benz when you get older), I like to place my hand on your fuzzy head and stroke your cheek with my finger. It’s my favorite time to pray for you, but there’s so much to say I often lose the words. Thank you for my baby. Protect her when I can’t. I just say it over and over. It’s often all I can articulate. When an emotion is so vast, I find it’s best just to keep it simple. God knows, anyway.
Sometimes in the early morning I’ll ask you who you want to be when you grow up. In response, you usually work your crazy hands all over and as I try to get your fingers out of your eyeballs, you hook your pacifier and throw it on the floor (and it’s super annoying, by the way). I don’t care who you want to be when you grow up, I just hope you live your life with purpose. Never fear your gifts are not enough or what you love is a silly pursuit. They are both perfectly designed for you. The path is not always obvious. That’s the torturous part of the learning. Lean into the unknowing and trust yourself to figure it out. You will. The world needs you to become who you were meant to be.
There’s that damn love bound up in my throat again.
This past week you started smiling at me. It makes me so giddy inside I want to kick a door down like Chuck Norris. (Google Chuck Norris. Is there still Google?) You love to smile the most after your 3 AM feeding. As we lay back down, you look up with a giant grin and lots of coos. In that moment I experience pure joy and a desperate dread. It’s like the Ying and Yang of motherhood.
Anyway, I don’t want to freak you out, but there’s more. Our souls are bonded together forever. You’re stuck with me. I’m stuck with you. But you’re an independent person placed here on earth with a job to do completely separate from me. I don’t like this very much. It means there could be times we are estranged, if you need elbow room to make your own mistakes. Maybe you’ll need to go to Europe to find yourself and you’ll call once a month with a weird tone. Maybe you’ll marry a man named Snake with a teardrop tattooed on his face. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.
I want to protect you with a hyper-vigilance that will surely be my downfall. Pain and owies. Colds and illness. Bullies. Social media. All of the Internet. Heartbreak. Middle school. I want to protect you from chubbiness and mean kids, even though I know mean kids and chubbiness is what helped to develop my sense of humor. Hidden hurts often inspired me to write. Growth requires pain. Greatness requires overcoming. I want to protect you from obstacles, but I know you need them.
I won’t hover like a helicopter even if you beg me too. You need experiences. Courage. Independence and confidence. Even though my love wants to put you in a bubble, I won’t, I promise. You might get mad at me, but we can take it. We’re stuck together, remember? Thems the breaks, kid.
Before I wrap this up, let me share some bad news. You have your daddy’s cowlicks. All of them. You’re going to struggle with your bangs. Destiny has already decided you’ll have to part your hair on the right. First life lesson: life isn’t fair.
A couple more life lessons:
People who respect their elders reap unexpected blessings. If you need kindness, be kind. Feed someone who’s hungry. There isn’t enough time to obsess about your weight. If you love someone, tell them often. Call your mom every day. Don’t judge people who give life lessons, but don’t live by most of them.
Because you won’t remember, I’ve written all these things down. My Lucy, no matter where you go, we will always be tied together with an invisible yet powerful string. You are deeply and unconditionally loved. Let it be the foundation that gives you the confidence to live your life joyfully with purpose. And to stay away from Snake.
With a crazy love that makes me nuts inside,