An open letter to all my mommin' sisters and dearest friends. I love you, I'm encouraged by you, I can't wait to be like you.
It is with all the feels that I type this letter to you. So, so many feels. All. The. Feels.
You see, there is at least one glaring difference between you and I, friend, and it cannot be ignored here. You're a mom, and a damn good one. But I am not. And there is at least one gigantic thread between us too, and that is our friendship, our sisterhood, our love.
Trust me, I don't get it. You and I both know that. I don't understand. I can't possibly. What is motherhood? What is it like to be a momma? No clue, man. I wish I knew, and I am sorry I don't.
I don't know what it's like to see a positive pregnancy test and I don't know what it's like to tell my husband that he's going to finally going to be a dad. I don't know what it's like to have to break it to my family that I'm going to carry my baby to term, despite the stigma of teen pregnancy. I don't know what it's like to tell my boyfriend that I'm pregnant, and the baby isn't his. I don't know what it's like to experience the long grueling process of IVF treatments and I don't know what it's like to face the long-awaited excitement of that first “yes”. I don't know what it's like to conceive, carry, and birth a child. I don't know what it's like to lose a child either. But, my friend, please, please know that I still see you and I still love you and I still care deeply, even when I don't and can't possibly understand.
I don't know what it's like to make a baby registry, and I don't what it's like to tour a birthing wing and to choose a midwife. I have never picked out a crib or prepared a nursery. I haven't had an ultrasound or gone to the doctor weekly to keep tabs on that sweet little one. I don't know what it feels like when that little peanut kicks and squirms. I don't know what it is like to feel contractions and have my water break. I don't have the slightest clue what it takes to endure the excruciating pain of bringing that sweet baby into this world and I can't imagine my husband's reaction to seeing that sweet bundle emerge in that chaotic moment of pain and sweat and tears and sweet, sweet joy. I can't fathom the joy. I can't fathom the pain. But, my friend, please, please know that I still see you and I still love you and I still care deeply, even when I don't and can't possibly understand.
I don't know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night to feed a screaming babe and change the diapers and sing over my little one. I've never had to choose which vaccines my babe should have or what school she should go to. I haven't endured the journey of breast feeding or bottle feeding, and I don't know the darkness of the shaming when I choose differently than someone else. I don't know what it's like to see my baby smile for the first time, take her first steps, or go to her first day of kindergarten. I don't know what it's like to persevere through the days of uncertainty when waiting for a diagnosis and some sort of explanation. I just don't know. But, my friend, please, please know that I still see you and I still love you and I still care deeply, even when I don't and can't possibly understand.
And, my word, I love your sweet baby so much.
I don't know what it's like to see my husband as a dad. Sure, I can try to imagine, but I can't really. I haven't gotten morning snuggles and haven't read bedtime stories. I’ve yet to see the expression on our parents’ faces when they learn that we’re making them grandparents. I don't know what it's like to hear those first giggles or wipe those after school tears. What's it like to see them eat their 1st birthday cake? I've never felt that deep love and utter joy or terrible shaming and painful isolation that you have as a mother. But, my friend, please, please know that I still see you and I still love you and I still care deeply, even when I don't and can't possibly understand.
And, my word, I love your sweet baby so much.
There is so, so much I just don't know. And I'm sorry. I wish I knew. I wish I could comfort you and celebrate with you and "get it" with you, but we both know that I can't, not really.
But, sweet sister, I see you. I do. And seeing you, my heart wells up with a love I didn't know I was capable of knowing, and yet my heart breaks with the slightest sorrow I hadn't realized before.
You know, I saw you on that day, the day you told me you were expecting that sweet one in a few months. I will never forget it. Just a year into marriage, and with great surprise to you two, you had a baby on the way. Sitting across from you in that booth in our hometown, a new emotion - a deeper love - sprang up in my heart, and I couldn’t contain it. And I saw you that day, scared and hesitant and thrilled and terrified - I saw you and I loved you then. Despite your apprehension in telling me and your nerves about what my reaction might be, I was overcome and tears filled my eyes. My heart leapt. I realized this sweet one would have the best momma ever. I saw you then and I loved you then, even though I didn't get it.
I saw you on that holy and special day, the day he made his mad entrance and came into this world. I will never forget those moments. I saw you that day, joyful, exhausted, blushing, and fierce - I saw you and loved you then. In those precious and dear moments, despite my not understanding and despite your hospital gown and despite the stubborn two year old, I was so overcome. I saw you become a mom and your husband a dad, and I was just simply overcome. A treasured moment. I didn't really get it, I couldn't wrap my head around it, but I did see you, a mother, and I loved you all in a deeper way than I even knew I could.
I saw you on that afternoon, the one when you finally decided to meet me for coffee for the first time after she was born. I saw you that day too, embarrassed, relieved, happy, and red-faced - I saw you and I love you then. She squirmed and screamed at the man who walked passed us and you were embarrassed, but I really wasn't. I was in awe. I was ecstatic at the invitation into your life and into hers. I wasn't embarrassed, I was honored. And, seriously, I didn't care about her squirming and worming on the table and all over our booth. You're amazing and your baby girl is beautiful. I saw you then and I loved you then.
I saw you that day at lunch, when you showed up late and flustered. I saw you smiling politely, tired, defeated, and wanting to change the subject. I saw you, and I didn't understand so my heart ached. I didn't know what to say or what questions to ask or how to help. I saw your mom-sized love, deep and wide, cover over those kiddos and I was struck. I seriously can't understand it, but I did witness it. It's beauty and it's struggle and it's unconditional, and I saw that in you.
I saw you in that dim hospital room, with your husband at your side and a lactation coach on your other side, and that sweet, sweet babe across your chest. I barged in, barely announced, ready to hug and kiss and love and hear the whole birth story, and right then I saw a quite, beautiful exhaustion in your eyes, and at the same time, some seriously real motherly love. It’s so beautifully seared in my memory, your eyes, your love, your motherhood. Right there, in a dang hospital room, I stood trying to contain tears as you told me of the blessings and many struggles you faced in those 48 hours previous. You were calm, quiet, and so stinking strong. That sweet bundle, warm and snuggled, laid in my arms as you and your hubby recounted the story. I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked with the ways this little one was already shaping your lives and the way he was already so very dearly loved by you, his momma. I saw love that night; I saw you. And I loved you then.
I saw you on that day, baby bump and a kind grin. That day when you poured your heart out about the fears and anxieties you were facing at the thought of baby coming soon. I saw raw honesty, a desperate plea for prayers, encouragement, insight, support. I saw you a mother. You became a mother, right before my eyes, even before baby girl came. I couldn’t imagine your conflictions and I couldn’t comfort with wisdom about how I endured that stage. But in that moment, seeing your heart out wide open on the table and experiencing your motherly care, even before baby was born, I was in awe. It’s truth and it’s intimacy and it's commitment. I saw you then, and I loved you.
I saw you that night too, the night we just dropped in, almost unannounced. I saw you, refreshed and beautiful and proud and brave, I saw it all in you. Your sweet babes are just too big and they're growing faster than I can even believe. They run and jump and yell and throw and giggle and sing and shout and beg and hug and kiss and wave and cry and cuddle. How is that?! Yeah, I totally don't get it. But because of you, I see it. I see so much grace and patience and joy and love and terror and frustration and fear and bravery, and I see a fierce, loving, caring, self-sacrificing hero-mom. That's what I saw and that's what I still see. Because of you. In you.
See, their tantrums, their screaming and crying, their jumping and throwing, their messy eating and snotty noses, their inappropriate gestures and comments, their nosey curiosities and making themselves at home, their stubborn rebellion, their interruptions and stinky diapers, their pants pulled down and their songs sung at the top of their lungs, their fussiness and their whining -- all of those plus anything and everything else -- it doesn't embarrass me or infuriate me.
It doesn't make me not want to be around you and it doesn't make me think anything about your parenting.
I'm never judging you.
And I know you're the best momma. I know, not because I understand, but because I SEE YOU. And I LOVE YOU.
And your kids don't bug me, they seriously bring me joy. I cherish each time I'm with them and I treasure all the hugs, high-fives, smooches, drawings, puzzles, walks, and talks. I love seeing them grow up and I'm so honored to be a part the village that surrounds them, and you. I know - I don't have my own kids, but trust me - I love yours.
So, in case you were ever tempted to think, because I don't get it and because I don't have babies of my own, that I don't much care or that your motherhood is unimportant to me or that your babies aren't valued by me, please know that this is so totally not the case. In case you've ever been tempted to not bother me with your mommin' troubles or to exclude me from your journey, because I don't get it, please reconsider. We've well established by now (and by the second paragraph of this note haha) that I don't, and can't possibly, understand, but don't think that I don't want to. I do.
I'm sorry I sometimes don't know what to say and I don't know how to help, but I want to. I'm in your corner, I'm willing to walk the journey with you, I'm here. Here to celebrate those milestones, to chat it out, to hold your hand, to give you a break, to encourage you, to take those kiddos for a playdate, to laugh it off, and to witness and to be a part of your mommin' days. And honestly, I hope you're there for mine someday too.
All my love,
Your childless friend; the one who still sees you, and who loves you all the more,