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In honor of mother’s day . . . a repost from a couple of years ago.

{My dear friend Kate is becoming a mom for the first time in just a few short weeks. Her baby shower is today, and because I am a world away in the Middle East, I can’t be there — in person — to celebrate the upcoming arrival of this baby boy. So, I decided to write her a letter, to give her some words she can hopefully hold onto in the days ahead.}

Dear Kate,

After I became a mother for the first time, as you are now on the threshold of becoming yourself, I spent a lot of time in fear. I feared how much my life had changed—the ways it had narrowed and the ways it had expanded. I feared that I would lose myself to Luke and Lane’s needs and care. I feared I would never be able to become the woman I wanted to be. I feared that I would always feel exhausted. I feared that Luke would pick up a drug habit at the age of nine and Lane would become a fan of Britney Spears at any second. I feared they would break my heart. I feared the monotony, and I also feared the grand adventure. I feared how much I loved them, too, because the love was like the force of a tidal wave sweeping you up and tossing you around.

I underestimated the losses and I also underestimated the gains, which is to say that the whole entire enterprise of motherhood caught me so off guard with it’s primal intensity that I am only now, still, recovering.

And four weeks ago, I got another stab at it. I got baby Elle. This time around—by some Grace—a few lights have been turned on where there had previously been shadows.

I can see now that becoming a mother for the first time was hard. I can see now that I believed it was hard because I believed I was failing in some way. But, the truth is, it was just hard. And I can see that so much more clearly now.  I can see how tired I was and how much pressure I was feeling and how much grief I was experiencing. And how all of that was normal and natural, and yet I punished myself for it.

What I want to say to you, Kate, is that you will have to walk through, crawl through, dig through this first experience of becoming a mother. There’s no short cut. You have to go through it. But on the days when it feels hard, I want you to remember something. Paint this on the wall of the nursery if you have to. It’s not hard because you’re failing. It’s hard because it’s hard.

And if you can remember that, you can make it. You can be a good companion to yourself. You can see yourself through the eyes of kindness and grace and compassion—as Christ sees you, as we see you—the most brazen shade of beautiful.

And one more thing . . . because I have learned there’s a magic elixir to fear . . .

On the days when you are hog-tied by the treacherous tethers of “how am I doing at motherhood?” I want you to remember the truth, which is, precious Kate, that the most transformational thing in all of time, in all of story, in all of the world is LOVE.

How you’re performing at motherhood is the false, and love is the true.

No matter how questionable your personal hygiene gets, no matter how much you want to kill Michael, no matter how desperate you are for sleep, no matter how badly you need a pedicure, no matter how breastfeeding goes or how your delivery turns out or how good of a sleeper you have on your hands . . . YOU. WILL. LOVE. THIS. BABY. BOY.

 

I recently received the most amazing children’s book* from my mother-in-law. I cried when I read it because it brought me back to what was most essential in my relationships with Luke, Lane, and Elle. And that is love.

I can get really mixed up and turned around and swamped by shame when it comes to all the messages whirling around me and inside me about motherhood. But this book reminded me that something far deeper, far truer exists. And that is, simply, my great love for these crazy kids.

Here are a few lines from the book for you to take with you:

 

If someday you’re lonely,

Or someday you’re sad,

Or you strike out at baseball,

Or think you’ve been bad . . .

 

Just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.

That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

 

In the green of the grass . . . in the smell of

The sea . . . in the clouds floating by . . .

At the top of a tree . . . in the sound

Crickets make at the end of the day . . .

 

“You are loved. You are loved. You are

loved,” they all say.

 

My love is so high, and so wide and

so deep. It’s always right there, even

when you’re asleep.

 

So hold your head high

And don’t be afraid

To march to the front

Of your own parade.

 

If you’re still my small babe

Or you’re all the way grown,

My promise to you

Is you’re never alone.

 

You are my angel, my darling,

My star . . . and my love will find you,

Wherever you are.

So you are already triumphant, Kate. You are already the most amazing mother. Because, I know you. And you know how to love.

Even a world away . . . I see you. I hear you. I love you.

Leeana

(*Wherever You Go My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman)

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