While Preston and I are on sabbatical for the summer in our letter writing, I thought I would keep up with letters. These, though, are letters with a bit more of my imagined, someday life, and a little bit less of the every day. I wanted to store them up, these daydreams, because even though we should live in the present, there is something to every once in a while glancing out and imagining the horizon.
I am curled up in my bed in the quiet of my birthday. The house is calm, and still, and I have eaten too much cake and been loved and cherished much more than I can give thanks for. I’m 22 now, so I write to you before your dad and I have sat around with a baby book and tossed names around across our battered kitchen table. I don’t know you yet, my boy, but I already love you.
You know that your sister and you are the most miraculous things to happen to me. You are my first daughter and first son – and even though I am praying our family is bigger, and I can write letters to your sisters and brothers – there is something different because you were the first. I’ll be more afraid for you, more afraid with you. I’ll make more mistakes. I’m so sorry for the times that you wept and I raged silently because I couldn’t fix it. I’m sorry that I groaned when you needed me in the middle of the night, just to hold you until you stopped throwing up (you had stomach flu, hon, and it was tough). Know that my love for you is so deep and wide I sometimes catch my breath just looking at you.
I told your sister last week that I am single now, and young, in the very beginning of becoming a grownup. I know that when you meet me for the first time I will be crying and laughing and your dad will be there, holding you and crying and laughing. I hope you meet us and we seem like one, somehow, two people who share in this great love for you. You won’t know it for years, but you and your siblings make me and your dad love each other better. We fall back in love every time we sit on the couch and watch you play with Legos and trucks, dance with your sister playing the recorder in the loud, squawking way.
I have probably bullied your dad into writing you a letter about being a man (I made him do it when we were pretty sure we were going to get married, I bet). I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a boy – but your dad is the most gentle, wonderful, strong and brave man I’ve ever met. He will teach you things I can’t teach you. Wake him up with your questions in the middle of the night, love. Ask him all the things you don’t know how to ask me.
But I wanted to write to you, too, because even if I’m Mom, not a boy, you are still my bug and I want to tell you that I love you. You might get tired of hearing it. You’ll sulk in a corner of the room on your fourth birthday because love doesn’t look like the trip to Disneyworld you wanted. But I promise, my love for you is forever. It outlasts every time you’re angry, every time you’re sad, every time you fight with me about staying up late or renting the R rated movie or hide the keys to the car just when I have a big meeting. I promise to love you more because of those things.
You’ve changed everything about my life, bug. You’ve changed how I eat and sleep, the dreams I have, the ideas of myself. I can’t tell you how yet, because I’m still at the beginning of the story, before I know the miracle that you are. But you should always know, whenever you wonder, that becoming a mom was the greatest gift. It was the most marvelous and difficult thing that ever happened to me. Right now I think it’s hard to say “no” to the wrong things, to figure out whether I should straighten my hair, to not be afraid of disappointment. Right now my life is full of long runs through the woods where God and I reckon with each other. You’ll do this, too – run and talk, pray and yell and fall on your knees as the physical exhaustion opens up your heart.
So until I meet you, and we go on those long runs through the park where you listen to me talk to God and you play with your brown monkey, until we fight over car keys and girlfriends, until we sit around our kitchen table or on the plane to see see Gram and Granddad in England… I promise to learn from the wiser people in my life. I promise to fall in love with your dad, whenever I’m supposed to. I promise to run and pray. And I promise to love you always, bug, even before I know you.
hilary (your someday mom)