Dear Baby Girl,
On Friday, I took you and Arlo the dog for a stroll around the apartment complex. You were snuggled in your carrier, and you drifted off to sleep, resting your 99th percentile head on my chest.
We passed a woman and her partner going from their apartment to their car. I smiled and asked how they were, as I’m trying to program myself to do. As they got into their car, I heard the woman saying, “That girl has everything I want right there.”
I almost laughed. The woman couldn’t be serious. She was immaculately dressed and made up. I was wearing a ratty, 10-year-old T-shirt covered in the spinach you hypothetically ate for lunch, milk stains, and possibly other substances too terrible to mention. The woman looked well-rested. I look like someone who’s been conditioned to wake up at 3 A.M. every night, whether or not the baby is sleeping. Her car and accessories suggested relative affluence. Our bank account suggests that the next unexpected medical or auto bill would be very bad news indeed.
But I think she was serious. She saw (or maybe imagined) a sliver of my life, and something about it resonated deeply with what she wants and hopes for herself. And when I took a telescopic view, I could understand. I think she saw a picture of love, family, and letting each other be enough.
Baby Girl, you are so wonderful. Arlo is so wonderful. Your daddy is so wonderful. When I’m honest, though, I have to admit that I’ve always looked ahead to the next thing, idealized what I didn’t have and underappreciated what I did. I’ve been in a season of wishing-away. I’ve wished for a time when your daddy and I aren’t both in graduate school and can earn salaries commensurate with our education, for a time when I can get more work done, for a time when you can walk and my shoulders are less sore.
At our wedding, we read 1 Corinthians 13, one verse of which says in part, “[Love] always protects.” I don’t remember much of what our pastor, Matt, preached in his homily, but I will always remember him saying,
Always protect what you’ve got right now.
Right now—not some fictional tomorrow when we’re less tired, less easily frustrated with each other, and less financially tenuous.
“Right now” is so precious. Your daddy and I have a strong and exciting relationship, a beautiful and smart child, and a dog who derpily loves us. We have a safe apartment and enough food to eat. We have $6 dates, Netflix marathons, and long talks on our porch. We are able to work towards fulfilling careers while also spending lots of time at home with you. And we have a community that treats us like its flesh and blood.
Forgive me when I forget the beauty of this moment. It’s everything I want.