Letters to Gem

Each month of her life I write a letter to my young daughter studded with photographs, updates on her development milestones, stories of our adventures through the month, and occasionally a little life lesson tucked in as well.

Dear Baby Girl – written before her birth

Dear Gem – Month 1: Development of the nickname Gem, “I have discovered that there is no time in which I have felt more content than when you sleep on my chest. All the pressures of the world melt away and I am able to relax in those quiet moments we have together.

Dear Gem – Month 2: Visit to aquarium with Aunt Dee, “Yesterday, while I was singing to you, you broke into a big grin and started cooing along with me. You giggle, and laugh, and squeal with delight. You babble away at the toys hanging from your bouncy seat.

Dear Gem – Month 3: Visit with Great Grandma, “I love our little conversations. I can talk to you, and I have your undivided attention. I know that wont last forever. In fact, I’ll probably start losing your attention as soon as you start understanding what I’m saying. But for the time being, we’re having a lot of fun.”

Dear Gem – Month 4: Finding a balance between school work and mothering, big wet slobbery baby kisses, “You wake up happy every morning, and talk to your fingers for a good half hour before you start to want some attention. This is such a nice way for me to wake up – to slowly ease into consciousness to the sound of your babbling and laughter. I think the world would be a better place if everyone could wake up every day to the sound of babies laughing.

Dear Gem – Month 5: rolling over, finger dexterity, “To make things interesting, one of your legs was completely outside of your jammies – one piece, footed jammies. And I had swaddled you when I put you down. So somehow, without being heard over the monitor you managed to get out of your swaddling, get a leg out of your jammies and play grab the toesies while I wasn’t looking. You surprise me nearly every day.”

Dear Gem – Month 6: beauty and intelligence, “You’ve had an amazing effect on my concept of time. I was once so focused on learning from my past, and preparing for my future, that I completely overlooked the present. The present was merely segue. You gave me the gift of now.

Dear Gem – Month 7: Crawling, climbing, standing, and getting in to everything, “How do I keep you safe while at the same time, not squash your determination? Everything we do to baby-proof, to keep you safe, is an obstacle. I don’t want you to give up. I want you to be persistent. I want you to overcome obstacles. Except that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, and… and every thing else I put in your way to help keep you safe.

Dear Gem – Month 8: Thanksgiving, feistiness, mischievous energy, “We got out my old keyboard and hooked it up on the shelf below the tv and you just go to town on it – sometimes singing and dancing along too. Maybe it’s mother’s ears, but you sound good – in a frightening way. Actually your music sounds like the music from a horror film that foreshadows the scary part.

Dear Gem – Month 9: Christmas, “I hope you have a wonderful Christmas this year, although I’m quite certain you wont remember much of it. I hope you keep that wide eyed wonder over the years to come. Don’t let yourself become jaded. Choose joy. And as far as that Santa Clause guy is concerned, he’ll grow on you over time. In fact it wont be long till you will look forward to seeing him.

Dear Gem – Month 10: Christmas, Molly (your doll), Great Grandma McKinley’s 99th birthday party, “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!'”

Dear Gem – Month 11: My Breast Cancer diagnosis, “You don’t just quickly glance at a new item, you study it, turning it over and over in your hand upside-down, sideways, inside-out.”

Dear Gem – Month 12: First birthday, first international trip – Canada, “You’ve started hand feeding me some of your Cheerios. Sometimes, you will hold one out for me and wait till my mouth gets right up to it before pulling away and eating it yourself – and then giggling. And then the next Cheerio – you bite it in half and feed me the other half.

Dear Gem – Month 13: Mother’s Day, my post-mastectomy recovery, “One of your favorite words is “THIS.” You walk around the house, or even stores when we go out, and hold up random objects proclaiming, proudly and emphatically, “THIS!” After a few weeks of “this,” I nearly fell out of my chair laughing, but proud, when you pointed at something and said “THAT!””

Dear Gem – Months 14 & 15 Trip to the zoo, sail boat ride, correctly using “yes” and “no”, “In fact we have a couple fabric books that week keep in your crib because we discovered that when you wake up in the morning, you will entertain yourself for an hour or so by “reading” your books to Molly and Peanut. One of my favorite experiences each day is snuggling a little deeper into my pillow in the morning while listening to your sweet voice babble away to your stuffed animals. It’s a lovely way to start the day.

Dear Gem – Month 16: first overnight stay with Grandma, trip to Bellingham, “Tonight you figured out that you could make yourself dizzy by spinning in circles. You spent the longest time spinning and giggling and falling down, then getting up and doing it over again.”