I’m new at this, so I’m having trouble deciphering which of my feelings are about parenting, and which feelings are about parenting you. Your father and I had a long-overdue late night dinner last night – complete with candles and wine and Dean Martin serenading us over Chinese takeout – and we slowed down enough to process this past year. It was bizarre, really, having a conversation that wasn’t interrupted by you, and we both found it difficult to string together a completely grown-up sentence that involved total and utter focus, rather than the darting eyes and multi-tasking hands that come with parenting a baby. But soon enough, we found our groove and lost ourselves into a fully interruption-less conversation. And as wonderful as it was, you still found your way into our conversation, as babies often do.
We chatted about our future family plans and our strengths and weaknesses as parents. But mostly, we chatted about you. About how perfectly perfect you fit into this family. Because Bee, I don’t think any other baby is as uniquely suited to teach us how to become parents quite like you are.
You have a hard job, my dear. You came into a very controlled environment and spilled chaos into every arena of our life like popcorn kernels exploding from a heated cannister. We were your typical married-of-seven-years couple: nice and neat and tidy, set in our ways. We finished each other’s sentences and shared the chores and synchronized our dreams until we had become our own family unit.
And then you arrived, a kernel of love and surprise and mess. The most beautiful mess of all, shattering expectations and crumbling walls until we became a heap of ourselves. We were tired and fearful and anxious, and you were you: a strong and capable teacher, assigning a handful of important life lessons on perspective and perseverance and vulnerability.
When a woman is in labor for the first time, there’s a fair amount of trailblazing that takes place. The road to the birth canal hasn’t yet been paved, so it’s rough and rocky and tumultuous. And you, Bee – the first baby – had to work very hard. We had to work very hard together, like we’ll do many times for the rest of our lives – you, me and your father.
And now, the trail has been blazed. Just like you paved the way during labor, you also paved the way in life. You formed and shaped and molded the lives of your father and I into parents. You created a family unit out of two pieces, weaving our lives into a quilt for three. And Bee, someday – God-willing – we will be a quilt of four.
And here’s what I want you to know: you are the thread that holds this quilt together. We owe you so much, and I know how silly that sounds to write. You’re just a baby. You can’t yet speak in complete sentences, but you have whispered perspective into our ears. You have taught us flexibility and patience and kindness, and you have changed us for good. And although you can’t yet run, you have shown us that, sometimes, running requires a big leap of faith at the starting line.
Giving you a sibling will require that, Bee – a big leap of faith for our family. A change of scenery and a bit of discomfort, and a lot of really intense paperwork. But now, because of you, our signature reads differently. It’s a bit more loopy and messy, and our I’s aren’t always dotted and we sometimes forget to cross our T’s. And it’s one hundred times more beautiful, smudged with the ink of faith and courage and unconditional love.
So if three becomes four, Bee, I want to thank you for making our family autograph what it is. For blazing the trail and paving the road, and for teaching us the art of a beautiful and real and perfectly imperfect signature.