Last night, my love, I held you, just as I hold you every night.
You were snuggled into my chest, sleeping just as you have every night from the day you were born—your cheek resting against my breast, your mouth slightly open, your little body rising and falling with each breath.
Your breathing matched mine, and we were doing this perfect dance with our bodies, completely involuntarily. You might be your own little person right now, 18 months old and ready to take on the world, but you are still a part of me. You will always be a part of me.
Your tiny fingers were curled next to your face. Who knew that fingers could be so perfect?
Your hair was doing its crazy toddler thing, a change from the wispy strands that you had for months. Now it’s the sweetest mullet I’ve ever seen—straight, silky and all business in the front, a party of wild, messy curls in the back. I can’t help but lightly pull those curls and let them bounce back. They just make me smile.
You make me smile.
I can feel you getting heavier by the night, and it’s wonderful. You were once a little munchkin in the 20th percentile for your weight, but over the past 6 months, you’ve skyrocketed to the 85th percentile. You’ve got a gymnast’s body and the fearlessness to match, and I half-expect you to do a dismount, Simone Biles–style, off the couch at any given minute. Actually, I’m always watching out for that.
You don’t sleep through the night, but that’s OK. I know that your teeth hurt. I know that your little cold was bothering you and it made it uncomfortable to lay down. Your diaper rash was adding to the discomfort.
And then it hit me. How lucky I was.
I often think about this to some degree. I know how lucky I am to have you. I have suffered too much loss in my life not to know that, and I never lose that perspective. It is because of a stroke of luck that you are here, that you are healthy, that you are mine.
But it is also because of a stroke of luck that you are safe and that I am able to be your mother in the way that I am. That’s something I’ve only really thought about in the abstract until last night.
Yes, I have worked hard to be here, and your father and I have done what we can to provide for you. But we were born into this situation, into this country, into this admittedly privileged life. Not everyone is that lucky.
Maybe it’s because of everything going on in the world right now, baby girl, but I can’t stop thinking lately about what could happen in other circumstances.
What if I couldn’t change your diaper because we didn’t have another one and couldn’t get one, for any number of reasons?
What if I couldn’t treat your diaper rash because we were literally fleeing a city under the cover of night—and who had access to diaper-rash ointment, anyway?
What if I couldn’t fret over your cold or your never-ending teething because I just desperately needed you to be quiet?
What if I couldn’t worry about your sleeping habits because we had nowhere to sleep and I was just grateful for us to grab rest wherever we could?
What if I couldn’t put you down when my back ached because I didn’t have a stroller or a carrier?
What if I couldn’t keep you safe?
I would give my life to keep you safe. I hope you know that. Every other mother on the planet would do the same. Mothers who are fleeing horrible and dangerous situations around the world. Mothers who are living in this country in poverty and don’t have a roof over their heads. Mothers who can’t afford the basic necessities of life. Mothers who feel trapped by their circumstances and can’t see a way out.
Baby, I don’t know the answer to this. I know that we are lucky, yes, and I am so grateful. But I also know that I can’t keep my head in the sand anymore about those who aren’t. I can’t pretend that it isn’t happening because it is. If I did, it would go against everything I believe, everything that I want for you and for your brother.
So I want to make my voice heard. I want to help somehow—donating to causes here and abroad, writing to our representatives, volunteering in a hands-on way and speaking out against hate when I hear it instead of shying away from uncomfortable conversations.
It doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s a start, and I want to try. Because I am lucky enough to be able to—and so are you.