A letter to my daughter on her 1st birthday

Happy first birthday.

Some days, I feel as if you will always stay small. But on other days, like this one, I can sense the light-speed journey that will grow you up and send you out into a world filled with both wonder and love, anger and fear.

Because you’re growing in a beautiful but uncertain world, I want to tell you something that happened before you arrived.

When your existence was still fresh news and nausea to me, I went to a writing conference. I tell you this so you know that I was away from your father—the person I usually lean on—and I was spending time with people I hadn’t seen in a few years. Before dinner one night, I thought I started a miscarriage. I’d lost pregnancies before and the signs were the same. I went outside and sobbed and the whole world felt full of pain and loss.

I intended to tell nobody except your dad. But a dear friend came and found me and lovingly gathered friends around who treated me with the greatest kindness.
It was a simple thing that loving people would do, but it shifted the world for me.

Mabel, your mama unintentionally holds people at arm’s length, worried about being a bother. You’re teaching me another way. From your very beginning, your presence has brought people closer and invited them to show how well they love. Here are a few:

    • The ultrasound tech who spoke kindly as I cried to see your still-fluttering heartbeat on the screen.
    • The midwives who helped me through uncertain months until we knew you’d stay.
    • The circle of good women who blessed me with their words and advice and love.
    • The community of friends that gathered to celebrate your coming and astonished me with their generosity and well wishes.

So many people, all of them loving with a strength you can hold onto all your life.

If the world ever feels uncertain or lonely as you grow, open your arms and let people love you. If you want to help someone whose world has gone dark, open your arms and love them. This world contains far more love than we all let on. Don’t let anyone who’s angry or afraid convince you that isn’t true.

Your name means loving, lovable. May that guide you in every year to come.