Dear I, A, and K,
One part of my love for you is magic. This is the deep emotional undercurrent that courses through me when I see your face, when I tuck you in, when I see you again after we’ve been apart for any period of time. This is the current that slowly started forming from the second that I realized you were growing in my belly, that grew stronger each time I felt you kick, that swelled up the first time I held you, that filled me up each time I nursed you, kissed you, bathed you, dressed you, and sniffed your head as I held you near.
Ninety-nine parts of my love for you is choice. The choice to put aside my own bad days, to be okay with the things that become broken in the exuberance of childhood, to shrug off the times that I’ve been peed upon, pooped upon, and puked upon. The choice to pull you closer when you scrape a knee and to not care if you bleed all over my only pair of jeans that still fits. The choice to run around even when I am exhausted, because I recognize it is what you need. The choice to wake up in the middle of the night and hold you near when you have a bad dream, if you need to use the potty, if you need a diaper change, if you need to nurse, or even if you simply need for me to hold you near.
I chose to have you come into my life, I chose for each of you to have siblings.
Adult life is not always pleasant, we get mired down in stresses and to-do lists that are fifteen miles long and never-ending. We have the weight of responsibility, of debts, of schedules, of the choices that we made in the past before you were born that have carried forwards into our present. We have the list of bills that need to be paid, the list of paydays coming up, and an understanding of how the two match up and where the incoming funds need to increase to match what needs to be paid out at the end of each month. We have sleepless nights where we stay up talking to each other and unable to go to sleep until we have worked out ways to deal with the various situations that we face.
The real has a way of hiding the magic away, of making the awesome things that you do weigh as heavily on us as any number of burdens. Your play is another mess to clean, another thing broken, something to replace, the reminder of a toy that you asked for that we cannot yet afford.
I choose to remind myself to put those things aside as often as I can, or to let them play out parallel to your happiness. I choose to carry you around the store on a mission while I look for children’s cough medicine for your brother. I choose to laugh at your antics while I fill out the checks. I choose to count off the laps you run around the house and to make a funny face each time you pass, even as I’m hunting for work to help pay the bills. When I drag you on the bus to a place that none of us want to go, I make the choice to start a game of seeing what things we can find outside the window even though I sometimes just want to lose myself in reading a book.
I choose to lose myself in your life, your world, your ideas. Our time together is limited as you already peel off in independence. The books will be here once you are grown. I can fit the bills in after bedtime. I can snuggle down and read those books and dance around to those silly songs.
I can choose to let that one part magic fill me up for as many moments every day as possible.
When you are all grown up with children of your own, do not think that parenthood is easy and wonder why it is that you struggle sometimes. Parenthood is messy, funny, stinky, delightful, yucky, hard, tear-filled, mind-numbing, gleeful, dripping-wet in galoshes, sunburned, mosquito-bitten, covered in grass stains, blackberry-flavored, with crinkly fall leaves sticking out of the back of your shirt. It is magical, but it is also made of many choices.
As a parent I can choose to let all of those life-things add up and rob me of the joy. Or I can make the choice to let all my joy add up and rob me of my stress in those moments that are meant to be happy.
I want to choose each day to do better until the choices come as easily as that magic does.