Dear New Baby Girl,
Tomorrow is your Induction Day. You are joining a small tribe of love that consists of your sister, your mom, your dog, and me, in descending order of importance. The perks of your membership are one free year of breastfeeding, unlimited diaper changes, and a 24/7/365 concierge service that is glad to come cuddle you and/or clean up vomit whenever and wherever you need. We, though, do have a few expectations of you: that you will do your best to allow us to sleep through the night and that you’ll do your best not to blow your diaper out all of your Easter and Christmas Eve dresses.
Your sister got a letter just like this one. I want you both to start early with words and letters- they are some of the most precious gifts I have to give you. Right now, your sister is almost two-years old. She has an amazing amount of words already, but the words she’s really choosing to use frequently are, “NO!” “Show?” “My Snack?” and “Baa,” which is what she calls her pacifier. You’d think we had spent the last two years serving at her every whim.
Don’t worry, I know by the time you’re two, you and I will have written your first book of poetry, all while Lydia watches her show while eating her snack and holding on to her Baa.
What is your name, anyway? We keep calling you Baby Sister, and we think we know what we’re going to call you, but you could very well come out and we could look at you and say, “Well, she doesn’t look like a Blank Blank.” We’re not actually naming you Blank Blank, but your grandparents get all worked up about not knowing your name and it’s a little fun to torture them with it. Actually, we landed on your name fairly quickly, but we’ll talk about that later, after you’re born and we see your face, and we make sure that the name fits who you are.
There’s so much you need to know! Where do we even start? First, the important things out of the way: as you come out (hopefully) tomorrow, the first voice you will likely here is Justin Timberlake, your mommy’s favorite “PUSH IT” mix musician. His music is good, but it’s not as good as people like Marvin Gaye and Patti Smith and Chris Thile and Lauryn Hill and Ben Folds. You may come out and here these people called “The Indigo Girls” singing. If that’s the case, I can’t help you. They are your mommy’s absolute favorite.
Other important lessons you need straight out of the gate: ranch dressing does make things taste better, but when you use it on strawberries like your sister does, people will think you’re weird. Your dog Jeffy Lu startles easily, so be gentle with her when you’re doing things around her like playing with anything or just generally…breathing. There will be moments when your sister throws fits and lays down on the floor sobbing; do what your Mom and Dad do and just let her be. It’ll look weird, but most of the time she sobbing because we gave her the cup with Batwoman on it instead of Wonder Woman.
I know they’re not particularly important lessons, but this is what being a family is: embracing the everyday weirdness and the everyday amazingness.
Which brings me to this: you are being brought into a community of mutuality (again, I know, a big word for a baby, but just like your sister, you are going to be a prodigy). You are the most important person in our little circle, and you are not the most important person in our little circle. We will hope things of you, expect things of you, want the best things for and from you, and you should hope things, expect things and want the best for and from us. When you’re a family, you face all of life together. That means we hold the hard things in one hand and the good things in the other, all while we hold each other closer and closer.
You are being born in a particular time for our family when we are holding a lot of hard things. Some day, but not today, we will tell you about the journey we’ve been on with your Grandad as you’ve grown for the last two months inside Mommy.
I need to make sure here that you know one hard thing about it now, though. When your sister was born, your Grandad was at the hospital all night long, waiting for her to come, and he was one of the first people to hold her. Your Grandad won’t be able to physically be there in the hospital waiting room because he will be in his own hospital room, just like you. Out of all of us, your Grandad is the most excited and expectant to meet you. If he could, he would be there with an annoying shirt on that says something like “Granddads are dads without rules.”
But, my sweet girl, he won’t be able to be here on your Induction Day. That’s as hard for your Daddy, your Mommy, and your Grammy as it is for you, so we can hold that all together. Out of us all, it may be pretty true that your Grandad loves you most and is so glad that you’re here. Some day, hopefully soon, he is going to hold you and greet you like he wants. And we’ll all cry that day, too. But that’s okay…crying is something that makes us all stronger.
Until then, you’ll have to settle for love from me and your mom, from your sister who really does want to be your big sister, from your Grammy (who may squeeze you twice as hard until Grandad can squeeze you again, so just be ready), from your Nana and Papaw (who may love as much as your Grammy and Grandad do), from your crazy aunts Jennifer and Kaymo, from your much more reasonable Uncle Blaise, and from your weird little cousin Ada who will eat your lunch (and your breakfast and your dinner) if you let her, and from your strong mighty smart sweet cousin Kendall who is just going to smile big when she meets you at Thanksgiving.
This is where I need to teach you another big word early: gratitude. Gratitude is the feeling your heart has when you acknowledge that your life is about so much more than just you. Start early, kid, because sometimes this feeling gets lost in the everyday busy-ness of just trying to be yourself. Your life is a gift to you as much as you are a gift to us. Gifts are most often given to us by other people, and knowing that other people support us takes a lot of the heaviness off our shoulders when life gets hard and heavy. Two of the most precious words your sister has already are, “Thank you.” Don’t worry- we’ll make sure you get them early. Those words are like a prayer, because every time we say them they help us grow closer to the people we love.
I’ll be honest with you- I’m scared to death about the world you’re being born into. It’s a lot different here now than when your sister came. I’ll save you many details. It’s just- In many ways we’re all just a lot more honest about who we are, and in many other ways we never known less who we are.
The only job you have, sweet girl, is to know discover who you are, to find your own voice, and to speak honestly and boldly with it.
There are some words that I love, from a book called the Bible (we’ll cover that later…too much for this letter), and they go like this:
Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…
But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”
As you face the death and life and angels and rulers and present things and future things and powers and heights and depths and everything else, here’s the one thing that I need to leave you with:
Do you realize that you will be the most loved baby girl in the history of all the baby girls that have ever been born in the world anywhere ever?
I mean, like, there will only be one other person whose parents have ever loved them as much as we love you, and that person is your sister.
Because you are ours and we are yours, and
If nothing in this world can change that God loves you, nothing in this world will ever change that we love you.
We know those things in our bones, too, and we can’t wait to help you know them too.
See you soon, sweet beloved daughter,
Dad (and Mom, who will sign this letter when she wakes up)