Today you are 5 and I cannot believe it. We have known each other for 5 years (well, and before that really.) I often just stare at you when you’re playing with your sister, watching TV or just sitting peacefully with your thoughts. I study your face, your curls- the way your hands remind me of mine. It’s as if I’m trying to memorize each detail of your features so I can keep it for myself- forever. I love watching you grow up, but it’s also bittersweet to say goodbye a little each day to the little baby I met that Friday morning five years ago.
On the morning we met I said a silent prayer. I prayed that you would always know love, that you’d always be protected and that I wouldn’t let you down. I was so afraid of not being the kind of mother I wanted to be to you. I looked at your perfect little face and promised that no matter what, I would “just keep swimming.” I also wondered why such a perfect angel would choose a broken mom like me to watch over her. Esther I suffer from depression. It’s something I have, it’s not who I am. To me it’s no different than having any other chronic illness. Sometimes I manage it really well and I barely know it’s there. And sometimes, it’s just under the surface and prevents me from being my true self and it pushes me into myself and farther away from the things and people I love. It’s like in “Finding Dori” when she first gets separated from her parents. She swam too close to the pipe, and it sucked her into the dark place- and spit her out in a totally different place away from her family and what she loved. Depression, for me, is like that deep dark pipe. If I’m not careful to take care of myself- I get too close to the deep dark pipe and it sucks me in- away from the people and things I love. Since, you’ve been in my life, I’ve had the strength to keep swimming and I’ve never been sucked all the way in. Sometimes I’m closer than I’d like to be. And during those times I’m not the kind of mom I want to be for you. I’m distracted and or distant. I retreat into myself and want to be alone with my thoughts. You give me the strength I need to do a re-set and to climb out of the deep dark place. I thank you for that. You really saved my life. Being a mother- being YOUR mother- gives me a reason to swim and swim and swim. You are not responsible for my happiness, I am, but you are a huge part of it. You and your sister are my soulmates. I know that to be truth.
This year you will start Kindergarten! I’m so excited for you. You are going to make so many new friends and learn so much. This year you also decided that you wanted to be Buddhist. This began an adventure of learning for all of us. From what I know so far, this seamlessly fits into the core of who you are. I’ve never met a more loving and more kind person than you. You are an includer, a deep thinker and you’re very empathetic. These are qualities that I hope you keep. These are also the qualities that make me worry. I fear people may take advantage of your kindness. We are currently experiencing a period of uncertainty and unrest all over the world, but particularly in our country. Many people are very scared of what’s to come. The more I live in this fear and sadness- the more hopeful I become. It’s mainly from watching your small acts of kindness and those of the people around me. My mom always told me that if you want to see God, be still and notice the details- so that’s what I’ve tried to do. I notice when you share your most favorite thing with your sister, or when you tell me It’s ME that is your happy thought for the day or when you tell daddy you “love him so so much.” We are going to need more people like you more than EVER Esther. It’s people like you who will lead with love and kindness. I truly believe that will be our salvation. One of my dearest friends described the personalities of you and your sister so perfectly. It’s my most favorite way to describe the two of you to people who haven’t met you two yet. She said, “Fiona will lead us into battle when we need to go to war and Esther will keep the peace.” Remember that honey. What I like about that description is that each of your personalities are needed. We need strong people to stand up for what’s right, to fight against people who seek to do us harm BUT we also need the peacemakers- who strive to do what’s right for everyone. How lucky your dad and I are that we got one of each!
I write these letters to you hoping one day you’ll get to read them. Also, I want you to know these things- just in case I’m not there to see you become an adult. I pray I will be. I want to be there to support you and to watch you discover who you are. It’s been so damn fun watching these past years. I want you to know- that no matter what- I am here for you…always. Just like the grandma in “Moana” said- “There is no place you could go where I won’t be with you.” Let me add- there is nothing you could do that would make me not love you. It’s true. You could come to me and say, “Mom, I did a very bad thing- I blew up a building.” I would say, “Shit! Really? WHY!!?? Ok, how are we going to fix this?” Some people may read that and think I’m crazy- but I don’t know any other way to parent- than to offer you radical love and acceptance. It’s what my mom offered me and it was her greatest gift to me- and so I try every day to pass it on to you. With THAT kind of love- a person feels confident and sure of him/herself in this world. When you have that kind of love backing you- it’s empowering and you feel limitless! And so my little monkey- YOU HAVE THIS KIND OF LOVE! So go be great and be whoever and whatever you are to be. Listen always to your heart, always follow your OWN dreams, do what is kind and always remember…there is no place you will go, where I won’t be you.
Your Momma with LOVE.