Last night after watching “This is Us” and crying like a baby like I always do, I realized something.
Call me crazy, call me late to the party-but I realized that this tiny human we are raising is going to grow up to be an adult and have to deal with all of the emotions that come with that. And for that reason, I continued to cry, long after the show was over.
I remember very distinctly the the day that I found out my mom had a stroke, the days that I had to say goodbye to my grandparents, the day I found out my mom had breast cancer, and the day my dad had open heart surgery. But I also remember the day my mom came home from the hospital, the thousands of good days with my grandparents, the day my mom had been cancer free for 5 years and the moment I knew my dad had survived the surgery.
In life, each person is given so many trials. But we are also so fortunate to be given pure happiness. As a parent, you don’t want your children to feel the trials, only the happiness. But, to feel that happiness, you have to know the pain and sadness.
So on the eve (or a few weeks prior) of my daughter being 18 months old, I decided to write this letter for her so that one day, she can know just how I feel and my perspective of what it feels like to be a parent.
You will never, ever understand how much I love you. The pure joy in my heart began long before you were born and although I didn’t think it could ever be possible, it grows a little more every day. Some days my heart literally feels like it will explode.
When you were born and I had to return to work, I proudly displayed your newborn pictures in my office at work. As the months passed, I had to move offices and the pictures-for whatever reason-never made it back up. Last week, your Grandma asked for me to print her some recent pictures of you and I ended up printing 2 of each thinking that I would put them up at work. I proudly displayed them again–but every time I look at them I get sad. I get sad that I can’t be with you 24/7. I get sad that your Madré and I have to work so that we can provide and continue to provide you with everything a child would need in life…and maybe a few extras here and there. I plan on keeping them up, but I wish you were with me.
So EJ–I need for you to know a few things. Things that I have learned in my short 30 years (ok, almost 31).
- Never doubt how much your family loves you. There will be days when we get upset or frustrated, but that doesn’t ever mean we don’t love you. Give us some time, even 5 minutes, and we will be better.
- Be kind to your pets. They will love you more unconditionally than anyone in the world. When it feels like everyone has turned their back on you, your pet will still be there, waiting for your next move. Make it a kind one.
- Don’t be afraid to take the risk. Whether this is jumping off the monkey bars, or quitting your job that you are so incredibly unhappy in. I will say, jumping off the monkey bars is much easier when you are 6.
- Spend time with your grandparents. They have so much to offer. They are funny people and love you more than the world. If I could have anything, it would be one more day with all of my grandparents. Do not take this for granted. They won’t be here forever, and you will miss them.
- Do not compare yourself to others. This is a really hard one. You are you. You are made to be you, nobody else. And you are perfect in your own way.
- Do not let other people change you. The only caveat to this is, unless it’s for the better. If you find someone that makes you want to be a better human, do not let them go.
- Be creative. No matter what that outlet looks like, everyone has got one. Find yours and do it. It feels so good.
- Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Now, as you know since you are reading this, neither of your moms can dance or sing. But that doesn’t stop us from dancing around the kitchen, singing at the top of our lungs in the car, or hula hooping in public to get you to laugh. When you dig deep to have the courage to be embarrassed, you open up a whole new ability to learn about yourself.
- Laugh. If there is one thing your grandparents taught me, it was how to laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh with other people. Just laugh. If you ever need help laughing, and inevitably you will, you call me. I promise, even on the darkest days, there is humor in there somewhere.
- On that same note, cry. Ugly cry, happy cry, sad cry. It’s always ok to express your emotions and sometimes, that cry is such a cathartic release.
EJ. Your Madré and I love you more than the world. We lay in bed at night and talk about how cute you are, how much you are growing and we ask each other if other people feel this way about their children. Our topics of conversation for the past 2 years has been devoted to you. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we have to talk about other things, but it always comes back to you. We will scroll through the 1,458,233 pictures and videos of you and just smile. You are our everything. We are so lucky to be able to have you as a daughter. Our only hope is that we do you proud and make you happy to be our daughter. We know it won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.