Dear Baby, The last time I wrote you, I was 25 weeks pregnant, and I hadn’t yet experienced the miracle of seeing your face. It’s now been two months since the midwife caught the squirmy, slimy, perfect alien from my belly (that was you) and said that you were mine. Every day since then, I haven’t been able to stop marveling at your beauty. It’s not mainly a matter of your appearance—although you are adorable—but instead, it’s the radiance of your whole personhood. Here’s what I see when I look at you.
When I look at you, I see the woman you will become. If I had to pick just one word for you, it would be fierce. Since the day you were born, your daddy and I have noticed a certain determination in everything that you do. Right now, you try your darnedest to crawl while Daddy plays “Eye of the Tiger,” and you root for milk with a sometimes-alarming intensity.
We get the feeling that as you grow up, you’ll still be fierce, though in more and more mature ways. Our culture doesn’t generally appreciate fierce women, especially not fierce women of color. But your daddy and I love your ferocity. While we will encourage you to grow in compassion and wisdom along with your feistiness, we will never ask you to douse that fire that’s in your heart. I believe that you will grow into a woman who has the ferocity to stand up for her own dignity and the dignity of others.
When I see you, I see the sacrifice of so many people. The day you were born, your daddy commented to me that you would never “pass” as white. Your beautiful, smooth skin is already much darker than mine, even though you’ve spent most of your time indoors or ensconced in your carrier. We’ll let you name your racial identity for yourself, but as far as our culture is concerned, you are a person of color.
Right now you have no idea that many of your ancestors came to our country in slave ships, that Jim Crow laws denied the dignity of your black ancestors, or that some of your white ancestors fought a war to keep slavery legal. You don’t know that within your grandparents’ lifetime, the marriage that gave you life was illegal in this state. And you don’t know about the many people who have protested, litigated, legislated, lived, and died so that your rights and our family would be protected. One day you will learn these things, and the struggles of your forebears may weigh on you. But I believe that if these people could speak to you, they would tell you that it was worth it. The existence of our family has come as such a cost, but your value is inestimable.
When I look at you, I see the unlikely intersection of two stories that only God could weave together. Your daddy and I are not alike in many ways. We come from very different cultural contexts and families; our personalities are quite different; and we have different views about certain issues. It’s our shared love of God that grants us the gift of loving each other. The love of God drew us together through a succession of choices we made independently, allowing us to meet at a time when we were open to sharing our hearts and lives with one another.
While you are a person in your own right, every time I see you, I’m reminded of the love that created you—a love that has altered our plans, continually exposed our self-centeredness, and drawn us deeper into the mystery of God’s love. In the two years we’ve been married, we’ve lived in three different homes, worked on three different graduate degrees, and watched far too many episodes of Bones and Criminal Minds. We’ve loved each other through difficult jobs, unreasonable arguments, and the loss of a parent. After all of that, I can say with assurance that you are the most beautiful thing we’ve created together.
You are so beautiful.