Monday, December 14, 2015

dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding

Dearest girl,

Today you are 5. The last five years...that's a musical, you know.  It doesn't work in this case because it's about a broken heart. It's about a love shown backwards to the audience, that way it breaks their hearts too. Which you know me, you know I like that stuff. Because it's real. Plus Jason Robert Brown wrote the music so it's quality.

I like things that are real. The last five years have been the most real of my 35.  I came to the NICU to feed you and see you and breathe you in and the lady saw me at the locked door through the tiny window and told her colleague: "it's Sloane's mom, open the door." I'd never been anything but "Shannon" and from that moment when you were just a day old I never was "just Shannon" again.

So the last five years have been full of heartache and regret and anxiety.  I married your dad. I tried for many years with him (before you came and after) to make us work and we couldn't.  My heart broke. I divorced your dad. And nothing during any of that was worth much to me unless it was a measurement of your happiness.  So, I felt like a ratty mom. A mom who gave up on keeping her child's family together. I felt selfish.  But slowly because of you I rebuilt my shaky confidence in my motherhood. Every time you'd put your chubby hands out to me I grew a little bit stronger. "Your beauty trumped my doubt." (it's a lyric by Mumford and Sons, there's always a lot of supplemental reading when it comes to your mother's writing).

So it wasn't perfect. But somewhere I had and still have this dream in me that our happiness isn't mutually exclusive. And in fact that if you didn't have a mother who could be happy you could never learn to be happy either. And I think a lot about that hymn from when I was a little girl that we would sing in church and I hope it's true: "farther along we'll know all about it, farther along we'll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine, we'll understand it all by and by."

There are people who will tell you when you are older that you shouldn't have regrets, or that they in fact don't have any regrets.  I will tell you that if you become a parent this idea is utter bullshit.

I have one million regrets and they are all, every single one (besides everything I did in the year 2001) about you. They stem from how I could've made you happier, or how I could have prevented you from hurting.

I try to best navigate by how to make you not only feel happy but how to help you turn into someone who is kind and intelligent, a woman who doesn't fear any part of herself, a person who passionately seeks but who is not too involved with herself to help others find.  It's hard to navigate. I mess up a lot. You'll know soon: I'm bad at maps, directions, and even Siri gets me lost sometimes.

Until I figure out the next step though, I have a constant companion. You sing silly made up songs a lot of the time, some mornings you are quite grumpy, some days you tell me you don't want to live with me (some of those days I don't want to live with me either), but when you are away the sound of the quiet is different. The quiet when you are asleep is a blissful quiet, sweet and colored with the exhaustion from going through another day together. The quiet when you are gone feels like a humid room. It gives me time to think about all the missteps and how to correct my navigation and it makes me count the hours until the quiet is replaced with your voice.

For everything that ever hurt or will hurt, I am sorry. I promise I think of you more than you will ever know. I am prouder of you than anything I've ever achieved.  And I love you more than I love anyone else including myself.

Happy birthday, all I want for you is everything good and many, many more.  

Love,

Mama

the title is from a song by ani difranco, I hope there is a woman musician who does for you what she did for your mommy a long time ago...the song is called The Slant. The full lyric is this:

I am a work in progress
dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding
offering me intricate patterns of questions
rhythms that never come clean
and strengths that you still haven't seen

4 comments:

Ashley H said...

I cannot even wrap my mind around her being 5 years old. How the H did that happen?!

Larry L said...

This is the most perfect post in the history of everything. You're amazing.

Larry L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen said...

You sure make my heart smile. Sloane is a lucky girl.