Category Archives: Letters

Quiet Success (Daddy Guest Post)

Dear Daughter,

I came home today after having been at work since the day prior. Work has been busy and I was asked to do overtime the night before. Entering the house I was greeted by your smiling brothers,while you were going back and forth between smiling and giving me the “I’m pissed off at you” look that you developed the weekend prior when I shaved my beard off. So you sat there, looking down your nose at me, brow furrowed, and sighing every few moments as if to say “I didn’t tell you that you could go to work for so long.”

You continued to give me the “look of disappointment” even after I took you in my arms and carried you around to all the places you liked. I mentioned to your mother that you felt heavier and she told me that you had gone through both a physical and a mental growth spurt. This is nothing new, as it seems that all our children break milestones whenever I work overtime. It has become somewhat of a tradition here, but I digress.

Bedtime came and, what is normally me putting the two older boys to bed while your mother nurses you to sleep, wound up with our roles reversed. Figuring that you would not go to sleep yet I held you on one arm and you started pointing at things like you normally do saying “dat” or “dis” and I would oblige by following your index finger and identifying whatever it was you were pointing at.

Then you pointed at the hallway connecting to the next room.

“Dat.”

I said “Hall”. You pointed again in the same direction.

“Dat.”

“It’s dark, the light is out.”
“Dat.”

“You want to go in there?”

“Dis. Dat.”

“OK.”

So I walked with you into the adjacent dark room and was rewarded with your giggly smile of being understood. I walked into the room and before I could turn on the light you pointed to the far corner of the room where an armchair was.

“Dat.”

“Chair”

“Dat. Dis.”

“You want to go there?”

“Dat.”

So I went to the armchair and sat down with you still in one arm. You smiled once again and continued to point at some things around us. You pointed at a flower on the wallpaper, at a ball, at the light in the kitchen, at the table and then… you put your head on my shoulder.

“Dat,” you said, this time without pointing.

I let my breathing slow and relax and felt you melt into my chest. In a few short minutes you were completely asleep.

It wasn’t long ago that you wouldn’t accept anyone except your mother to put you to sleep. You had required to nurse every time you closed your eyes. The few times you tried on your own before you fussed for a few minutes and then asked for your mommy.

Today, you succeeded.

This is a small step. A small victory. But it is an important one. Today marks the first day that you were able to self soothe with someone other than your mother next to you.

Today, however, does not mark a complete change and reversal of the norm. There will be setbacks. There will be regression. You will still ask for mommy most of the time. You will still need to nurse. And it will still be quite some time until you are able to be completely self soothe without our help.

But even in the face of that, today is still a victory. There was no crying when you decided to take this step on your own. There was no pushing or cajoling on our part. There was only our, your parents, gentle reassurance that everything you are doing is normal.

I look forward to your future milestones. They will all come too quickly so I will be sure to enjoy them as much as I can in the moment.

I just hope that I get to see at least a few of them without having to work overtime first.

<3 Daddy

Asking and Receiving (And a heartfelt thank you)

Dear Friends,

I chose at a very young age to hide in the bathroom to cry. I’d sit on a toilet with my knees hugged up to my chest to hide my face even though I was behind a locked door. I’d sob. I did not like to show my tears or my vulnerability because I was learning that many adults react to sadness and need as negatively as they respond to anger and defiance. I was not able to understand when it was okay to feel sad and when my sadness would be seen as manipulation. So I hid alone with tears and guilt.

I hid everything that hurt. I washed and bandaged my own cuts even if there was an adult that was there to help me. I tried to not talk about the sad things. I tried to not talk about the upsetting things.

This was a reaction to seeking help one time and being met with such a strong negative reaction that I became afraid of having need.

Yesterday I made myself vulnerable to each of you with a request for help. I expressed a need. I showed a weakness. I paused for a long time after I wrote the request for help.. I debated deleting it. I went back and I edited it and tried to make it more clear.

I just needed to hear something good about myself before I went into a place where I often end up having to hear so many negative things. Some partial truths and some ridiculous fictions.

I was scared and sad and headed into a place where I was not allowed to be either.

Yesterday I broke a habit almost as many years old as I am.

I did what I would tell many of you to do. I listened to myself the way I’d want each of you to listen to me when I tell you that it’s OKAY to be having a hard time. It’s OKAY to need a hug. It’s OKAY to be sad. To be scared. To be vulnerable. To need to know that there are people that see the good in you. It’s OKAY to question yourself when you are in a toxic environment. And it’s OKAY to need to refill yourself when you have been depleted.

So I asked for help.

And then instead of the negative or empty reaction that I feared and half expected (vulnerability is such a funny thing).. I got such an outpouring of support and love.

Each and every message that I received was a shoulder to lean on. Each of you made me smile. Laugh. Hold back tears of relief. I was shocked by the deluge of support that was there for me. Writing this now has me shaky and in tears of gratitude.

I keep trying to think of eloquent words to thank each of the people that responded to my call for help. I can’t.

I am in a situation that I do not want to be in. A situation that has the potential for consequences that hurt more than I care to imagine. I am in a situation where I am constantly fearful for my family and for myself. I am in a situation I cannot speak openly about as that too would have many consequences too big to bear.

Yesterday.. For the first time in years I was not afraid. Each of you was there with me providing you with your support.

It doesn’t get any easier from here on out. But the messages that each of you sent are something that will stay with me. Both as a feeling and in a tangible form as I print them out and glue them to colorful index cards to keep in a box by my bed to page through when I need to remember that I cannot be defined by a single angry person from my past.

I have many difficult choices ahead of me, and many things that I fear.

But I also have so many things of joy. I count them when I am feeling sad or scared. I feel my breathing slow and my body relax. I feel myself re-fill with the blessings that my life has for me.

And I count each of you among those blessings.

Thank you. Truly. Deeply. From the bottom of my heart. You will never know how deeply even the simplest message impacted me yesterday.

Thank you. So very.. VERY much.

<3 Sarah

Dear Alex

Dear Alex,

Today is Father’s Day. Thank you for being an awesome dad to Thing One, Thing Two and Thing-ette Three.

One thing that I’ve learned about motherhood is that it is easier to be a single parent than it is to have an unsupportive partner. Not only are you supportive, but you manage to be an equal parent despite working full time with an insane commute. You manage to be just as well bonded with our exclusively breastfed daughter who is with me all day in a wrap against my chest. This is rare. Very rare. I am blessed, and our children are blessed. While it might sound corny, you are a blessing.

Every step of the way you place our children ahead of your own ego, and your relationship comes out so much stronger because of this. I learn from the way you parent our children, and the way you connect with them and how you carve out their time with you even when you are tired with a headache and want to be asleep.

It makes me smile when you come home and the big-two stampede to give you hugs at the door and the little one starts fussing in my arms because she knows that you’re home and wants you to hold her.

I love you, our children love you, and there is no one else in the world that I would rather have by my side while navigating these crazy sleep deprived days of having children under six years old.

Happy Father’s day to the best father I have ever met.

<3 Sarah