If I Should Have A Daughter

To my future daughter,

Your grandmother gave me a book when I was very young, around the age of 5. The book was about a woman who has her first baby, and every night before he was to fall asleep, should would sing to him, reciting:

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be…

As the baby grew older, so did the mother. She still repeated her song at every big moment in his life, and scattered it at other moments in-between as well. Eventually, she became so old that the son was the one who finally had to begin to carry her. And when he did, he would repeat the words he heard so much when he was young and small; “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always….”

You’ll never be able to meet the woman who gave me that book. She and I never made it past those first few chapters. In fact, I’ve never called her anything other than mother before. Grandmother seems like a stretch, like a word with multiple definitions depending on its placement in the sentence. Yet, all the same, she is your grandmother, even if she’s decided not to be here.

I grew up with your uncle Jack and your grandfather, Bill. For you, it may be me and your father, or it just may be me and you. For me, it was these two. On the weekends, we would hike up the steep street from our house and rollerblade down, and your grandfather would be there to kiss the scrapes we gathered on our hands and our knees from our falls. I would cry and cry and cry, but the moment that he kissed that small scrape, I would immediately explain, “it’s all better now!” My father called me Sunshine so much that it became my second name, and I would watch as the children that lived in the houses near us had mothers to reach out to and hold hands with and cry to. I became confused. Sometimes, I became angry.

I’ll never be able to explain to you why your grandmother left so quickly and unexpectedly. I’ll never be able to give you a reason as to why that was and had to be the way it is. I’ll never be able to explain the feeling to you when I found out she was gone for good. But I will tell you, no, enforce to you, that nothing is supposed to make sense to anyone, ever. If I could explain to you why people do the things they do then I would be a textbook, not a mother. Your grandfather used to tell me that everyone and everything was going to be okay, even if he knew it wasn’t. This didn’t make him a liar, it made him my father.

When I am to become a mother, and you are to be born, at whatever time and place the universe decides to let that be, I want you to know that you being around is not obligatory to me. It’s not an option. Mothers do not get to choose after they bring their tiny babies into the world. I will not get to choose the time when I’ll get to kiss your bruised and scraped knees, and when you’ll let me know that “it’s all better now!” I will not choose the time when or why you’ll feel that strange gut feeling looking at other families at the things that they have that you do not. I won’t be able to fully tell you the reasons why boats float and then sink, why waves hit the shore and then cause hurricanes, and why sometimes there are just mothers and sometimes there are just fathers. But, I will be able to be next to you as you see all of this unfolding in front of your new, doe eyes. When you come around, whenever that day may be, I’ll have more names to you than just “mother”. I’ll be mother and sister, point A and point B, head and heart. I want you to realize that no matter how many titles you give me, I’ll never reject another.

There is no shame in fear, only in cowardice. When I was small, I got the wind knocked out of me while climbing the monkey bars. A boy, seeing my long and lanky limbs, decided to bet that he could jump and reach the bar furthest from me. Challenging him, I did. And when I knew my left hand had slipped and I was already falling quickly towards the gravel, I stopped myself from looking out towards the boy who had beat me. Instead, I looked up, understanding that the fall was going to hurt and it was because of my own choosing. I had not yet learned how to live a life until I learned how to live for someone other than myself.

You are every reason for expansion. You are the reasons for coffee in the mornings and for afternoon drives and for coloring pictures. You are the reason for challenging someone in monkey bars and accepting a fall. You are the reason for every yes and no and for every outfit option in the morning of your first day of school, no matter how many we’ll need to sift through. When I was small, I didn’t have all those yes’s or no’s. I didn’t have that second opinion of an outfit, or that woman to run towards me in distress when the wind left my lungs and I laid on the playground gravel. I didn’t have the motherly hand to help color pictures, or a woman to share the coffee with. But that doesn’t make me sad. It makes me your mother, and the one who will always be too in love to leave.

I want you to argue with me, although I’ve questioned many of my arguments.

I want you to scream and to yell, although often I’ve kept myself silent.

I want you to ask every question you can possibly think of, though I know I’ll never have all the answers.

I want you to live, although your grandmother did not.

When you are born, and every year after that, you will not have a grandmother on my side. And, although her time was short, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn’t love you as desperately as I will. People are fickle, silly things. We mess up, and sometimes we don’t understand our consequences until the moment of absolution has passed. Time passes so, so quickly, and you’ll be terrified to realize how quickly seconds turn into hours, and how hours turn into days, and how those days turn into lifetimes.  Stagnant words like “forever” terrified your grandmother. But that doesn’t mean they terrify everyone. Because, above all else,

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be…

Love,

Your Mother

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