Happy Mother's Day, Neva.
Someday, you may choose to have children and fulfill my dreams of being a grandmother. You’ll think being pregnant is really difficult, and then you’ll have the baby and realize you just wasted your last chance ever to sleep through the night.
But do not despair, my love, because someday your child will be seven, and this will be the best year of your lives.
You are seven years old right now as I’m writing this to you. Just to put things in perspective, your daddy has been home from the Army for eight months, and sometimes I am still amazed at how wonderful it is to split all the parenting jobs between two people instead of doing them all so poorly by myself. I hope I didn’t mess you up too much, but there’s a chance I did, and if that’s the case I assume you’ll be reading this letter in the midst of a therapy session. Sorry. Anyhow, Daddy is home, and your favorite thing about having him here is so that you have someone to shoot Nerf guns at (since I am off-limits) and someone to bicker with (much to my eternal eye-rolling dismay) and someone else to call a Poop Face when I am at work. Today is May 7th, technically, and I am about to graduate from college. I should be studying or sleeping, especially considering that it is 12:33 in the morning and I am a very, very old college senior, but what I really want to do right now is wake you up so we can go jump on the bed. It seems suddenly very important to me that we jump on the bed immediately if not sooner, because maybe I haven’t let you do that before, and it is a VERY IMPORTANT PART OF BEING A CHILD! My second inclination is to crawl into your tiny bed and hug you until I fall asleep, only to wake up with you snoring and/or drooling into my ear while you violently kick me out of the bed. If you become a mother, this will make perfect sense to you. If you don’t, there is no way I can possibly ever explain the strange ache that a mother feels when she wants to hold her baby and, for some reason, is unable to at this very second.
I suppose one reason I am feeling so very sentimental is that it is spring, and by (finally) graduating from college I am sort of leaving the very last shred of my youth behind me. Also, Mother’s Day is two days from now, and I am lucky enough to be a Mom two times over. That empty arm feeling I was trying to explain earlier is very common for me this time of year, because your brother’s birthday should have been around April 9th. He would have been five this year. Someday when my tears are not threatening to blur the monitor, I will write you a letter that attempts, and fails, to thank you for all the hugs and kisses and headaches and comforts and Fecal-Related-Nicknames you have given to me on his behalf, and how having you around was (and still is) the biggest comfort for me in going through the horrible grieving process that is losing a baby. I hope you never understand that.
What’s so great about seven? You are really getting the hang of this reading thing, which is great because Mom and Dad are also really into words. Just ahead on the horizon, I can see the two of us sitting snug in some pretentious coffee shop reading our books and sharing a scone.
Even better than that idyllic future is the present. My favorite thing to do with you recently is trick you into believing that we have some terribly boring chore to accomplish, and then totally blindsiding you with a cheap-as-can-be Mama/Neva date. (For example, last weekend I told you we needed to go buy toothpaste. While that was true, and we did actually buy toothpaste, the real purpose of the outing was to let you illegally ride up front in the passenger seat and hold hands with me while we drove to McDonald’s to buy vanilla ice cream cones. You’re old enough to eat them without getting drippy ice cream everywhere, but your permanent teeth are still very sensitive to the cold ice cream when you get down to the cone, so I had to bite the cone into pieces and feed them to you by hand in the Walmart parking lot before we went to buy the toothpaste.)
Another favorite activity recently involves us cooing at each other, because you are my baby bird and I am your Mama bird. You often remember this game in public, and I am often too embarrassed by my cooing companion to play along, but sometimes you overwhelm me and we dance around like a pair of brain dead pigeons in the middle of the produce section, and I am certain that the people staring at us are EATING THEIR HEARTS OUT with jealousy. And that’s probably mostly because their children are eight, or something, and the magic that is seven is nothing but a distant memory.
You are old enough to sleep through the entire night in your room 99 out of 100 days, but young enough to wake me up and tell me that you had a nightmare where you sucked a giant red spider down your throat through a straw last night. You are young enough to crawl into bed with me in the morning and tell me you want me to snuggle you without using any words, but you are old enough to crawl back out of bed and get dressed when we give up trying to make time stand still. You are old enough to decide how you would like to wear your hair every day, but you are young enough to wince your way through my incompetent styling. You are young enough to call me Mama, but old enough to know you only do that because I prefer it to Mom.
I don’t anticipate any more babies in my future, beautiful girl, at least not until you’re the one who has to change most of their diapers. But between now and then, I want you to know that you are the best gift I could have ever been given. Thank you for making me your Mama Bird; you are my Happy Mother’s Day card.