Every year, I write a letter to my children on their birthday. I email Bridget’s to her in an email account I started a couple years ago…with the intent that I will give her the account/password when she is older. She turns 6 on January 9…this is this year’s birthday letter:
You started kindergarten this year. I was a beehive…abuzz with excitement, humming with anticipation. I felt like you were ready to go. I could not wait for you to leave the waiting room of our home to burst into the world, breathless with wonder at all The Beyond there is to experience. I envisioned friendship bracelets & games of tag on the playground and a fluorescent spinning pinwheel of all the joyful things that make childhood the thumbprint that is left on the rest of your life.
I wasn’t prepared for your struggle, your desperate attempts to swim without us. You didn’t know how to make friends. You sat alone on the redyellowblue carpet. You offered crayons to kids who ignored your soft-skinned sweetness, your sucrose. You cried in the cafeteria when the other girls snubbed you. You swung by yourself on the playground, your little sneaker’d feet kicking up clouds of melancholic dirt…you little lonely mustang, pawing the ground and transmuting it to dusty sky.
You told me one night that your body hurt because it was turning blue from filling up with tears. My heart was completely hewn by your sadness. I wanted to fix it for you & I tried. I thought perhaps things were getting better. Then, a few weeks ago, you told me you didn’t know why the other kids in your class didn’t like you, that there must be something wrong with you and you began to cry. I held you and told you that I wished things were easier for you. I told you that those kids would be lucky to have you for a friend. And I wept with you because I didn’t know what else to say in the heaviness of the moment…
Forgive me, love…your mother was anemic in that moment when she should have been forged from something stronger…Too much lace, not enough iron.
What I should have told you is that when I look at you—I see a deep chesty inhalation of fresh air in a field of dandelions on the first day of spring. I see beams of incandescent light shooting from your eyes and fingertips—all the excess of extraordinariness that cannot be contained within your little body. I see constellations of miracles. I see my love letter to a world that is better with you here in it. Oh, my little prizefighter, my primrose, my coin in the wishing well: you are everything you need to be & I promise you, you’re going to be fine, ok?
What I should have told you is that you have lent an important heft to a life that weighed little before you arrived. You gold bar, you opalescent glass paperweight, you darling little anchor-holding me here. You are the tune I whistle when I am alone & scared at night & need to remember the sun will come up & that I need to be there to see it. You are the golden thread stitching the scraps of my life together. Listen to me: You are funny and dear and smart and loving and you are enough. Yes, know this: you are always enough just as you are.
And because I didn’t say it then, let me tell you now: Those other girls who are mean to you? Well, they’re just jewel thieves, baby…trying to possess your shine by concealment and petty absconsion. But B? On the darkest of nights, when there’s no light to refract through you into kaleidoscopic explosions of light: still, even then, know that a diamond can never truly BE coal.
So happy 6th birthday, Bridget Claire. And if you remember anything I’ve taught you, let it be this: guard that spark, lovely girl—so you can always see yourself clearly, even when others can’t. But if things get really dark, come see me–because your mom never loses sight of all the incredible wonderful you are & she will never tire of reminding you.
Me & B, 1.6.2019
Love her little face SO HARD….