a letter

Dear Rylie,

You are 14 months old this week. I had intended to write this letter and mail it for your first birthday, but time goes so stinkin’ fast with you. I’d like to write you lots of letters… and mail them with a real stamp… and collect them all in a lunch box for you to open at graduation or your wedding or your Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. I can’t say this was my idea- I stole it from a lady I overheard at the hair salon. The hair salon is torture for me, just so you know. An hour of small talk with a person I see once every four months… kill me now. But I’d pay a million dollars for someone to massage and wash my hair, so chatter is a relatively small price to pay. You have inherited this love from me… because when you are very very tired, you will sit on my lap and stare out the window and let me stroke your hair. And when I stop, you take my hand in baby slow-motion and you put it back on top of your head, silently encouraging me to continue. And I cry every time.

Since this is your first letter, let me introduce myself. I am your mother. I am 31 now. I’m 5 foot 6 and a half inches tall and the doctor tells me I weigh 135. It’s a very important election year and I’m leaning towards McCain, but it’s still early. Fine. We live in Belding, Michigan- 30 miles North of Grand Rapids. We attend Mars Hill Bible church every Sunday where I sing on the worship team. This may shock you. It shocks me, too. We have a small soon-to-be farm with three chickens and a dog. The chickens have had a rough life, but we are working on that. I love to sew and knit and read and watch movies… all at 10 minutes at a time and when you are sleeping. And, I like to write letters. At least, I used to.

Ten years ago, I showed up in California for my college internship. The first night I sat in a circle of girls I would teach with for the next year… and we all had to say what ‘we did’. What we were good at. How we make the world better. I remember meekly answering, “I write letters.” “Oh, like grants and stuff? Cool.” my tofu-eating, liberal, soon-to-be best friends said. No, not like grants or anything world-changing. Just regular old letters. With a stamp. Nine months later, my roommate Bridget- sitting up on her bunk bed in our little smurf hut- looked down at me and said, “I know what you mean now. You do. You write letters. Wonderful letters.” I used to write lots of letters to people… it was my way of talking without having to make eye contact. But then I met your dad and we fell in love and got married and a lot of things changed. Markers seemed a bit childish, and I was working a real job, and we had a mortgage, and friends were super far away… and I just stopped writing.

But then I had you. And all the sudden, I found an old part of myself. A confident part. A creative part. An easy part. A part I didn’t know how much I had been missing. A part that knew, no matter how much the world freaked out around me, that you and I were ok. We have always been calm together… and I love that. I want to write to you… to put things down on paper to remember and remind. To take the time to say I love you and remember when. Like I used to.

You are 18 pounds soaking wet. You refuse to walk, you do not talk, and you have never eaten very well. But you are the most joyful person I’ve ever met. You make crabby check-out ladies at the grocery store smile and you make other people want to have kids. You light up when your dad comes in the room and you make both of us kinder, better people. I say all this now so that in your 12th birthday letter we can remember the good times. Times when I could do no wrong in your eyes, when your father was King, and when you never talked back with the inherited Sebeck sarcasm I know is currently brewing within.

You will hurt someone for a pickle, and you absolutely love it when Abe runs wildly through the snow. You sleep with your arms tucked under your stomach and your buns up in the air. Every. Night. You zoom around in cloth diapers and you can empty a cupboard full of Tupperware in 30 seconds flat. I could give you a bath three times a day and still find you leaning over the tub begging to crawl in. You have fallen off our bed 2 times and down the basement stairs once… but no trips to the hospital. Please do not hold this against us later in life when you have to take your SATs twice.

I miss you when you sleep. I have forgiven you for being so lazy laid-back during childbirth and nearly killing me. Your calmness now is my absolute favorite thing about you. Inside me, not so much. You play for hours alone… babbling and banging away. You kiss your baby doll, wet and slimy, over and over again. We’ve taken you to Texas, to Wyoming, to Montana, to Pennsylvania, to Ohio, to Illinois, and to Zeeland. You’ve slept in a tent, seen elk and buffalo, and flown in a plane. You love to bang on windows and your dad makes you giggle in your gut like no one else.

And I watch you, amazed. Amazed at how such a teeny tiny thing can be so real. Amazed at how loud you can be in church. Amazed at how music completely stops you in your tracks. Amazed at how you bring out the absolute best in people.

Including me.
So, I love you, sweet girl.
It’s so nice to know you.
And, thank you.
And, I’ll talk to you soon.

Love,
Mom

P.S.
I never took you to Sears for your 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 1 year pictures. I also do not have a notebook that tells when you rolled over first, when you started smiling, and how much you weighed at 4.5 months. I am sorry. You may, if you wish, join your father in mourning this oversight in a corner somewhere. I will be getting on with my (and your) life.

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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

18 responses to “a letter

  • sunday

    i write letters to BellaRose too, well just one so far. They are for when she gets married, and I am a super freak at her wedding, and when she hates me, and when she turns 16 and i beg her not to ever drive. you know letters like that, but so far i only have one and that is for when she hates me. i have letters from you too. lots of letters. letters that i love so much that i send back to you just so you know how much they touched me that i have kept them for all these years. i still find your letters too, when i am cleaning and i see your unmistakable hand writing, and i remember my dear friend katie from many many summers ago! we may have even been teenagers then.

    ps-i made the No-Knead bread. AMAZING!!!

    pss- i think that i am over david copperfield

  • thekooiet

    Kate, that is beautiful….purely beautiful. Rylie’s got herself a very lovely mama.

    P.S.
    I didn’t take my kids to sears for their 3 month, 6 month, 9 month either….I did a few just for peer pressures sake. Those kind of pictures aren’t the “life” they live (I think folks who do it are wonderful…I’m not knocking it.) For me, they are just pictures that don’t mean much of anything. Just that mom got you all dressed up and clean for a moments snapshot while you waited in line with other crazy moms and their crabby babies hoping that yours would stay happy until the right moment. Instead, I like the real-lifers…the playing in the cupboard with the tupperware, the sleeping on the floor snuggled up next to the puppy….those are the moments I like to remember.

  • CortneyTree

    Beautiful, my friend.
    Feel free to write me any time 😉

  • Jessica, Myron and Rylie

    hmmmm. Sweet Rylie Joy!! Sweet Momma Kate. I still have your letters, your journal, your cards you made me. They have always inspired me. They have always been visible through the 8 or so years we lost touch. Keep writing,especially to that sweet baby….she will thank yo for it one day. That is why I take a million and one pictures of Rylie. My dad did. My favorite thing to do is look at those pictures….and my baby book so maybe I should go sit with Curt in the corner too….

  • Becky Swann

    I love it. So much that I have decided to have a little girl of my own! What fun and especially appreciated the PS, I feel as if that will be my PS someday!

  • Mandi

    That is so beautiful and touching! You are truly an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your heart with your little girl…and with all of us!

  • jimmy

    I told you so….
    All aren’t we glad Katie is our friend.
    Curt doesn’t travel much I don’t think, but I used to send postcards to Heather when I was out of town, now I send them to Rose and she enjoys it I believe.

  • Anna

    Katie,
    In the future, please remember that I am not supposed to cry at work.
    Thanks,
    Anna

  • Anonymous

    Anna Foster call me

  • OurMrsMikrut

    I second Anna’s sentiment.

    And may I say, this is SO much better than mundane, pre-formatted entries in a baby book. (Not that I had either…my mom, while inwardly sentimental, is not much of a do-er in that regard.)

    I totally agree with Jami on the Sears Photo Studio thing (or, God forbid, the WAL-MART photo studio..even worse!) I’m so glad I know y’all, I’ll be insanely well-prepared to be a mother. (Riiiight…)

  • Anonymous

    um there is only three now?
    kate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    julie

  • MC and Brian Phillips

    It’s time to bust in. You don’t know me, but I confess to stalking your blog a little. I’m a friend of such characters as Becky, Annie, and Sunday (I was a Montreatian).
    Your writing is inspiring, and as I popped by tonight and read your letter to your daughter, it made me want to share that my Dad wrote to me throughout my life in a green spiral notebook. When I graduated from high school he gave it to me.

    I have never possessed anything so meaningful, and I have never cried so much reading something.

    You’re giving your child an amazing gift.

    …nice to meet you.

    -M.C. Phillips

  • Shanna, Adam and Gracen

    yep. she’s a lucky girl. and you’re a lucky mama. but, dude, curt totally scored.

    thanks for sharing. it put an otherwise icky day in perspective. much, much needed…

  • Anonymous

    Dearest Lillian –
    I do not have any sears pics either – and you don’t get a letter for your birthdays 1-6 like Rylie. Nope. But for your 7th birthday next december you better bet your bippy that you get a sweet letter. It may have to be from Kate – but you will get a letter.
    Kate you make us all better people.
    Julie

  • Dan, Annie, Will and Mocha

    O Katie, I do not ever comment on your blog because I always think maybe you don’t remember me, but we met briefly during your camp days at merri-mac and my first and only summer off from working there. I lived with Jessica and Sunday at App. Hopefully you remember.
    Anyway, this letter made me weep, all your entries are full of wisdom, for instance I learned from your blog that my “Will” was getting his molars and not dying, (I called Sunday and she read your blog to me over the phone).
    This letter was so sweet, I write to Will too and it’s funny, they seem kind of similar. No words yet and walked late, but can make anyone and everyone laugh and smile. And sooo peaceful, I too love it.
    So, anyway, thank you for your words, even though meant for your precious girl, they reach many.
    And…I think I feel free to comment from now on, not like this weird stalker girl.

  • wende

    How did I miss this lovely post??

    We don’t have professional photos of G either. I’ve always been a candid kind of girl. However, you have a blog–and I think that is going to say so much more than a few monthly photos.

    And isn’t it interesting how having children changes us to be more “ourselves.”

    Lovely, lovely!

  • Allison

    Kate ~

    Your letter to Rylie is beautiful.

    This seems like a good time to introduce myself, since I’ve been secretly reading your blog for over a year. I’m totally committed, too – often I get here before anyone has a chance to comment : )

    I’ve been hooked ever since I clicked a link to your blog on your brother’s MySpace page. I worked with Danny at Malmstrom. He stayed at my house for a few weeks when he first moved to Great Falls, but we were never close friends. I’ve always thought he was a great guy, and it’s clear that fabulous-ness runs in the family.

    So, for that introduction: I’m from upstate NY. I spent four years in Montana, like Danny. Right now, I’m in Ohio, and my job is getting a masters in physics. I’m wrapping up my thesis, (procrastinating right now!) and graduating in March. I expect to stay here for another three years at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

    I have three dogs – 2 Vizslas, and a Lab. When I’m not in school, the dogs compete in conformation, agility, obedience, and hunt test. My old guy is a certified therapy dog, so we go to nursing homes and schools. I ride dressage, live to ski, and recently discovered I love running half-marathons.

    Most of my friends and I are single – certainly no babies on the horizon. In addition to your witty writing, I enjoy your blog because it is a window into a different world. Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Allison

    p.s. You and your friends might enjoy this book sharing site: http://www.goodreads.com. I’d love to see the books you guys recommend, and share my favorites with you. You can find me if you search for gspeed517@mac.com.

    p.p.s. Goats would be a great addition to your farm : )

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