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