My Dearest Marin,
As my eyes well up with tears, I just want to start by saying: Thank you. Thank you for the gift you’ve been to me and the gift you are to me. I not only can’t imagine my life without you in it, but I can’t imagine my life without your constant way of shaping me and transforming me day in and day out. It is truly impossible to separate you from my own identity because of the magnitude at which you changed our lives forever: you made me a mother (and Daddy a father). I will never look or experience the world the same again because I’m now forever Marin’s Mommy (and since, Isaac’s too). Every day, I’m challenged to see the world the way you do, to correct others the way you do, and really, to love them unapologetically like you do – with everything you’ve got, and then some.
Per usual, your birthday brings on much reflection of your Birth Day. There has been no greater, no holier, no more profound day in my life. I didn’t know it then, but that day would inform so much of who I am as a Mother, a Teacher, a Doula, and much more. I think about it all the time with sobering gratitude. The more births I see, the more appreciation I have for that day being filled with grit and collaboration and ending in sheer joy and celebration. I’ve never done anything harder or more worthwhile in my entire life (but I haven’t yet had to drop you off for your first day of school).
I often reflect on how birth is the perfect first act to parenting. You come in with expectations and hopes, you surrender and work hard, and you ultimately, can do a million ‘right’ things and it’s still in God’s hands. Now, four years later, I joke that you are my “Midwife Kid”. You beg me to go to labors and always ask if you can join me for class. You don’t miss a scraped knee or a broken heart – you are never far from those who are hurt and you are readily available to help them. I even joke that you’re the “true Christian” in our family – correcting bad attitudes, calling out any ugliness and sin, and asking Jesus for help. I am in constant awe of your display of ‘childlike faith’ and how easily my heart drifts from it only to return again with your not-so-gentle nudging.
You don’t miss a beat, Marin. You remember if I said I’d do something and don’t. It humbles me and reminds me of how important it is to show you to be true to your words and gracious – a lesson I’m still learning. You look forward to spending everyday with friends, and you slump in your chair in disappointment if at breakfast you find, I’m not carting you to a playdate that day. You love swim lessons, movies, treats, and trips to the park, and now, doing an afternoon craft with Mommy or making Friday night pizza with Daddy. Your Kuncle recently took you on a date, and after you talked about it the entire weekend, I realized how special one-on-one time is to you (still). (Since I wrote this, we’ve gone on a date to see Peter Pan and it will hopefully be the first of many more plays together! You try to wear the dress you wore every chance you get to twirl in it like Wendy and get upset when we have to change into pajamas for bedtime).Last year, was your first year as a “Big Sister” and while we all certainly adjusted, it was you who bore the brunt of this new addition to our family. You went from being the center of our little world to a part of it. When Isaac was little, I got comfortable telling you to wait or be patient – after all, these are two of the wonderful sought-out blessings I’d hoped for in adding a sibling. This year, I am learning to do the same with him. For what I waited seemingly-forever for, but was actually two years, I can now utter the words “go play with your brother”. You two love to take laps around the kitchen and playroom with your buggies and chase one another for hours. You make each other laugh, you fight over the same toys, and you watch out for one another. At your first day at our new gym, you went to hit the employee who was checking Isaac’s diaper and when she told me, I internally smiled knowing it was out of protection for him.
I think back to the initial insanity of two and smile sipping my hot coffee and writing out a to-do list in peace at the kitchen table. I’m amazed at the amount of time you entertain each other with little supervision and I worry about what that will look like next year when you’re school-age. On that note, apparently 4 will live in infamy as the year I worried too much about what to do with your education (after reading last year’s post, I’m noticing a pattern here). My typical hands-off, you’re-gonna-make it approach has abruptly hit a wall as my parenting style hits the-much-more-organized-and-mainstream public education phase. You are currently in a very well-done and interactive playgroup with a former kindergarten teacher, and if it is an indication of what lies ahead, it feels fun and playful, but overstimulating and exhaustive. Out of insecurity, I ask the parents with older children in elementary school about their experiences, and I wait to hear something that sparks my passion to send you away.
The luxury of enjoying leisure breakfast times and trips to our favorite hangouts seems to be a thing of the almost-past. I conclude that these must be ‘the days’ and these ‘days’ are a chapter nearly over – how do we have only a year left of this (less, actually)? How am I (what feels like) the only parent not wishing it to end or looking to get an extension? It seems unfair now that if you were born 2 days later, I wouldn’t have a choice. I’d happily wait my turn and for another year to enroll. But here we are, my August 30th baby – the girl I’d hoped would come in August for years.Now, it’s a decision. And a big one that makes me not want to lift my head to see what’s ahead. In seeing how much your interest in learning your letters has been sparked from a couple playgroup sessions, I’m encouraged that you aren’t going to drop out or fail next year, but I’m concerned about what this means for us, or nap times, or Isaac and me time.
As my oldest child, you will always be the scariest one for me to raise. Which honestly, is a shame since you are the easiest in so many ways. Maybe that’s part of it – making the ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ choice has always seemed less obvious with you, but then again, your brother will always have the benefit of more-seasoned parents parenting him. It’s just so weird to hear you cry that you’re afraid you won’t fit in my arms anymore when I hold you on your couch before bed, or for you to recite my expressions perfectly as your own – you’re confident, oh-so-sweet, and you’re never one to turn down my hugs and kisses – and you’re slowly, but surely, growing up.
I feel the same way I did when you first weaned – what will this next chapter hold? How will we manage it or how will we look different? And I feel so ridiculous because to so many people, this next phase is just a next phase. For me, my often-flaky-but-still-there desire to homeschool isn’t rooted in fear, but really, the desire to spend more time with you than not. Or to have the best part of our days be together. But then, I know it will still be different too. Every year has, every year will. I’m a really good play-based parent, but what about when we have to intentionally do a workbook together? What will that look like?
But if I were honest with myself, while the pictures and videos take me back to some of our sweetest memories together, the best is always ahead of us, Marin. I don’t miss nursing you right now and I don’t miss that winter when Isaac was first here (although, I miss his babyhood). I don’t miss not sleeping and I don’t miss you not wanting to walk up the stairs. In all the missing, there’s a lot of not missing. But the thing is – as a parent, you always remember the best of each phase and treasure it. And I certainly do.
So with the future fast approaching, I’m not giving into the belief that our best days are behind us and I’m not holding you back either. My sweet Star, you will always shine bright, no matter what we do with your schooling or how many siblings you have or how many times we nail it or completely screw our parenting gig up – God’s destiny on your life is too great and wonderful. I am doing all I can to actively rest in that and pray for you and over your precious life. You have been such a gift from the first dream I had of you (just days before our first positive pregnancy test) and no matter what the path is ahead, I’m not losing sleep over our bond at this point. I know it’s there, and like a chapter in your favorite book, we always pick up right where we left off.
No matter how near or far you are from me 8:30 am – 2:30 pm next year or when it’s miles away, one day, too. I love you, my Peanut, my Sweetheart, my Silly Lady, and this Halloween, my Hillary Clinton.
Love you, always and forever,