Dear Gem – Month 10

by | Parenting & Family

It’s been more than six weeks since I wrote the last of these letters to you. It feels like it’s been much longer because you have grown and changed so much in that time. At this point, I’m not even sure where to start. The last letter I wrote was before Christmas, so we haven’t even discussed your first Christmas yet. 048

I really didn’t know what to get you for Christmas, we didn’t have much money to spend and this was likely to be a holiday that Daddy and I would remember more than you. Daddy got you a fuzzy white coat with teddy bear ears on the hood. I thought long and hard, but finally, I bought a baby doll so at least I had something to give you until I found something better.

Opening presents on Christmas morning held your interest for a while, but you were much more interested in the ribbons and bows. That is until we got to the babydoll, which was the last present of the morning.

When we tore away the paper covering the doll’s face you had a very strong reaction. It was like a recognition of your soul mate, or long lost friend, or baby, rather than you seeing the doll for the first time. Your response was more like “that’s my baby. My baby is in a box! Why is my baby in that box? GET MY BABY OUT OF THAT BOX! Don’t worry baby, I’ll save you!” 016

Of course, not only was the doll covered in wrapping paper, she was fastened to her box in 15 different places with plastic tabs that had to be cut. You held the box and rocked it while I hunted down a knife to cut the her out of the restraints. Then I had to get the baby in the box away from you so that I could safely use the knife to free to baby.

Oh, the drama!

But as soon as you got that baby in your arms, you just covered her with kisses.

You are quite vocal these days, but not big on recognizable words, so Daddy and I took it upon ourselves to name your baby for you. We call her Molly, and she’s your best friend and constant companion.


January was completely chaotic for us. Amongst all the activity, we also had your Great-Grandma McKinley’s 99th birthday party, and Daddy’s Ph.D application, and all our school funding paperwork was due – all of which took a great deal of time and energy to complete. But they would have been much easier if we had not waited till the last minute. I’m going to try to encourage you to get things done ahead of time. We have so much stress in our lives that is not necessary. I hope I can break this habit before you start to copy it. I’m really trying to get organized this year, but it takes time to completely change the way you do everything.


Another life skill I’ve been working on is asking for help when I need it. That is one thing that is very difficult for me to do. Most of the time, I would much rather try to do everything than ever admit that I need help. And the actual asking part is even more difficult than admitting that I need the help. But I did it. I finally asked Grandma to watch you a few days a week so that I can work on my homework and I’m slowly starting to get caught up on all my classes. Grandma has been a big help.


When it comes to asking for help, it’s easy to catastrophize and think of all the things that can go wrong. But really, what’s the worst that can happen? They can say no – possible. They can say yes when they really mean no and end up resenting you – also possible. They can say yes and do a terrible job which you end up having to fix – this is possible too. But none of these things are the end of the world, and the down-side of each can be easily mitigated.

If they say no, they say no, you’re right where you started and you’ve lost nothing. Don’t even worry about this possibility.

If they say yes to something they really don’t want to do, that’s a little more difficult. First, think of asking people to help with things that they enjoy doing. If someone loves to cook and you need help with food preparation, its a good fit. Also, when you make the request build in an easy out. Make it easy for them to say no if they really don’t want to do it. Then you know you didn’t pressure them into doing something they didn’t want to do.

As for the last one, they might mess it up causing you to invest even more time and effort fixing their mess – it’s important to understand that everyone does things their own way. Sometimes you have have to understand that the difference between good enough and catastrophic is really much bigger than it may appear. Just because it’s not they way you would do it, doesn’t mean it’s not good enough. And really, who do you think you are anyways? What is it that is so important that you are the only person on earth who can do it correctly? Ok, if it’s school-work, you can’t outsource it. If you can’t let anyone else do the task, you might have to give away the tasks you really enjoy in order to give yourself time to do the tasks you can’t entrust to anyone else. I had to ask for help with the one thing I enjoy most, spending time with you.

If you haven’t already guessed. Yes, I am using these letters to you to work out these issues myself. If you can learn these lessons as I learn them, you’ll be much wiser at a much younger age than I ever was. Experience really is the best teacher. And you may need experience to understand what I’m talking about. Someday, twenty or thirty years from now, you might come across these letters right when you need to hear what I have to say.


You are so bold, and bright, and curious. I am watching you transform from a baby into a beautiful little girl. Your smile brightens the room, you squeal with delight when we come home, and you dance whenever you hear music. You love books, and spend a big percentage of every day looking at your books. You’ve learned to make connections between what you see in the picture book and what you see in the real world. You can connect the picture of the teddy bear to your teddy bear, the picture of the rubber duck to your duckie, and the other day I handed you an apple when you were looking at an apple in your book, and you took a bite out of it! Yes, you have top teeth now. And when we go for a ride in the stroller, you wave and yell hi to everyone we see, but you still prefer traveling up on Daddy’s shoulders.

There is so much good in you, and good in the world. Don’t let the haters tell you otherwise. I’d love to see the world bring out the best in you, and vice versa. I love every moment we have together now, but I’m so curious and excited to see what you become. You are so full of potential. What I hope for you most is that you choose love and happiness, and find something about which you are really passionate.

I am so proud of you, and I love you,


Read more Letters to Gem.

Judy Schwartz Haley


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