My daughter’s genuine tears when I left her at her grandparents this evening had me unable to sleep at 11pm. Her wish to come on a trip with John and I was so genuine, you could sense the disappointment in her little face each time it was brought up. She could have cared less where we were going, the fact of the matter was, she wanted to be included. My son bestowed us with more smiles in the last 24 hours than I could count. Silly songs from an (almost) 9 month old, and a few firsts. He reaches for us now and his cheeks puff happily when his father or I go in for sloppy, baby kisses. I have two, absolutely precious little human beings that I constantly worry and fuss over.  

I do it right, or so I say to myself about 6 hours before I’m supposed to get on a plane for the other side of the U.S. I have life insurance, my bills are paid, my will is written and by God, I have secure passwords. On paper, should something happen, I’m more put together than other 30 year old parents. But deep inside, I’m a mess about getting on an airplane in just a few, short, hours.

When I was younger, I few dozens of times a year. Chicago, Holland, Germany, Florida. We had yearly trips inside the U.S. and we went overseas to Europe during my teen years. My father rushed us out the door the mornings of a flight. I was sick in more than one airport bathroom and always calmed my nerves with tea and lots of lemons. The truth was, as much as we traveled, I absolutely hated the fear that something could go wrong. Multiplying that fear by an infinite amount is my worry over not being able to see my children grow up and be the incredible adults I know they will be. Add that to the fear of getting on a plane tomorrow and you have what I’d like to call, “A Letter To My Children.”

.:Ava and Daniel:.

While I hope to spend the rest of my days writing about your greatness, I am going to attempt to fail at writing everything I want you to know, this very second, because then I can get almost 6 hours of sleep and know that no matter what happens, you can look back at run-on-sentences, well-meant advice and absolute love when I come back from San Diego in 6 days and we can giggle when you’re older about how ridiculous it was that I sat up writing you love letters instead of sleeping.

You two, are the very best things that have ever happened to me. Every cliche and description of this is true: My love for you, is in-describable. (Ava, you always tell me, “I love you so much, I just can’t describe it!”) In your little mind, you already understand such big concepts. This makes me so, very proud.

Darling Ava, I’m hard on you. (Danny, I’m less hard on you because you are currently 9 months old and still wear tiny, adorable, diapers. This will change.) Ava-Madonna Maria, I’m hard on you because I know are nothing short of perfection. In fact, you are perfectly imperfect. From your unruly auburn curls, to your big brown eyes, you are going to grow to be such a measure of truth and goodness. But you know, the only thing I want for you is to be HAPPY. (I tell you this often.) I also tell you, “you are enough, just as you are.” Sometimes you catch me whispering these things into your ear at night. You smile and tuck your head into your pillow further. I ask you, “where will we meet in our dreams?” Usually we decide on the American Girl Doll Store, or Disneyland, but tonight on the phone you told me we were going to go to White Castle, which sounded delicious.

I fear the day we no longer dream at the same time, but I know that for you to grow and be who you need to be, I must also grow old and wrinkly and wonderfully obscure. If we stayed the same, I would be 31 and you would be (almost) 8. As much as I want for you to stay as this little bite-sized version of the woman you will become, I know that is incredibly selfish. No matter what, you will grow and change and you will always have the spark that is in you at this moment, simply because you know no other way to exist. That, is what I never want you to lose. While some people will magnetize themselves to you, because you’re a light in an otherwise (very) dull world, you may find that others distance themselves. (Let them.)

I told your Grandpa an afternoon, some weeks ago, that we are scientifically all made of stars. He told me I needed to “Get my head checked.” Your Grandpa happens to be one of the brightest and kindest people I know. But, even Grandpas make mistakes. You, I know, were made of stars. You shine so brightly and beautifully, it MUST be true. If you can believe your Grandpa made a mistake, it’s going to be much easier to realize that I too, have made mistakes. (Lots of them, in fact.) I couldn’t afford to fund both a therapy and college account, so I figured I made a good bet on stashing money away for your education. When the time comes for you to venture out on your own, you must know what you carry with you. You’re going to be fine, because my blood is your blood. We are one, you and I. From the moment I laid eyes on you and you lifted your head up remarkably, (moments after birth,) I knew you were going to be a force for the universe to reckon with. Don’t you dare cheapen your existence with the doubts and attitudes of others. Running your life based on their ideas of who you should be or what you should do, would be like cooking the world’s best recipe with sub par ingredients. There are things we skimp on and things we don’t and self-esteem and awareness are not the earlier. Care for your brother, love the way he always looks to you for your attention and approval. (I secretly think this will go both ways.) He looks at you in a way I wish he would look at me. You are HIS Ava. His entire existence is not around his parents, but YOU. The moment you walk into a room, his little face scrunches up into a gummy, toothless smile. He reaches for you and looks for you the moment one member of our family is around. He trusts your being, babies know when GOOD is around them. And you, my darling, are absolute GOOD.

Daniel Paul, while earlier today I was remarking at your innate ability to both eat your toes and scream, “BA-BA!” at the top of your lungs, I think you’re going to hold many surprises. You, are going to be our thinker, our problem-solver and most importantly, our little introvert. Introverts are not less than extroverts, (as society would have you believe.) Introverts create solutions through engineering and mathematics and they often go through solutions in their head to find exactly the right one, like keys to a door lock. You, were the key to my heart.

I thought before you came along that there was absolutely no way I could love someone as much as I loved your sister. I remember crying to your father that I was going to feel torn when you came. How could I split a responsibility and create MORE of me for YOU? How very, very, wrong, I was. I remember the moment it all happened. After the daze of the hospital, we drove home and brought you into our home for the first time. I literally fell to the floor in the living room when I finally, “got it,” and I cried and cried. You had made me more, simply by coming into the world. My heart didn’t split at all, there was no sides, only growth.

There is no miracle greater than this: Love only grows more love. It is the ONLY thing that because it starts, it blooms. It needs nothing in return. My Fridays home with you and the 3 months we spent before I went back fully to work, was something I cherish each and every day. Your sister taught me how to be a better human being. You,  taught me how to be a mother. You would think it was the other way around, but with your sister, I was so worried that everyone never knew she was from a single parent’s home. I worked multiple jobs and made sure everything was perfect for her. Sometimes, I was so busy at being, “perfect,” I didn’t stop to play. I still struggle with this, every day. But, when you’re around, kicking your little legs on the floor, we all stop and enjoy the moment. I look at Ava and stroke her hair and we marvel at all that you are. You’ve created a bond that will never go away. You made us such a stronger family, more than you’ll ever possibly know.

I know through the years, you are going to bring me to my knees many times again. You’ll eventually grow out of your newborn baby hands and feet and the curls in the back of your head will disappear. When you are a grown man with his own responsibilities, I hope you don’t mind how I’ll stop mid-conversation to look at you, simply because you are going to be loved infinitely more than I love you now.  And that, is also a miracle.

Be gentle with your sister. Allow her to push a little, and prod a little as she finds her own way. Ava very much needs to lead with two things: Her truth and her heart. Her truth, is not going to be everyone’s truth. Her heart will be hard to understand sometimes, but let her love in the way she needs to. Because when she loves, she loves with the all of who she is. That is exactly what the world needs more of. It will make you and I better people.

Although you may not understand it now, I had to tell you two, simply because there are moments when I feel as though my heart will explode. The house is quiet, I’m worried and I love you, oh, so very much.