From the Archives: 4/6/21
Dear Dan, Jack, and Molly,
When I think back on the past year I am filled with so many emotions, but overwhelmingly I feel pride. I am so proud of how we have all come together to take on all of the struggles and obstacles this past year. I know I have learned and grown more this year than any other in my life so far. All three of you have taught me important lessons and challenged me to live more fully and completely. I am so grateful to and for each of you and I am so proud to be a part of this family.
Molly, I obviously cannot think of this past year without thinking about you. When we got the phone call about your labs last April it felt like my entire universe was caving in. It was easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the fear that came with your diagnosis. As a mom I so badly want to protect my babies from any and all harm. While I knew on some level that wasn’t actually possible, this was something completely different. I could not stop the cancer or make it disappear. I quickly learned the only thing I could do was support you through your battle. I assumed my job was to teach you how to handle the scary and hard situations and to do my best to keep you brave. What I couldn’t have predicted is what you would teach me. I am not a fierce or brave person by nature. But you are and always have been. We have said so since we started getting glimpses of your personality as a newborn. Being able to see how you show up and find ways to breathe through your struggles has inspired me so deeply. I am forever changed just by witnessing you and your courage. You have taught me to recognize my own strength and to keep my feet firmly planted on the floor, even when I’m afraid. You have forced me to parent from a position of courage instead of one of fear.
Jack, one of the biggest and best surprises this past year has been you. You have such a tender heart, and I was concerned with how Molly’s illness would impact you. I was afraid it may be too much for your anxiety and that it would overwhelm you. I could not have been more wrong. My sweet and empathetic boy, you carried us through this year finding ways to love all of us well. When days were hard you were the first to offer extra hugs or surprise us with a picture. You never let a night go by without telling me that I’m the best mom in the whole world. When Molly was crabby or not feeling good you worked overtime to get smiles and laughs and make sure she still felt your support. You found ways to love each of us in very specific and individual ways. I will never understand how at six, and now seven, you are able to observe, interpret, and act on the needs of others. Regularly my friends tell me they want to be more like you, and I couldn’t agree more. The world needs more Jacks. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to raise you and witness you grow. I am a better parent and human for being loved by you. I try to follow your example daily in trying to decide what each of my people need and tailoring how I show up for them. If Molly taught me to stand in courage, you taught me to lead with love.
Dan, I could not have gotten through this year without your support. This year has tested us and our marriage in ways we couldn’t have ever prepared for or seen coming. But I am proud of how we handled it and navigated it together. We knew that something this traumatic could bring us closer or drive us apart and that a big piece of that was up to us and how we chose to show up for each other. We have always known that you and I view and process things differently. Our personalities are such opposites. This past year has forced us to face this and understand it in new ways; and you showed up for me every single time. I could see and feel you making an effort to share your feelings with me, especially in the months surrounding Molly’s diagnosis. I continue to see you work on giving me the words of affirmation that you know I need. And no matter how hard it may be for you to understand my gut emotional responses and reactions, you stay curious about me. You want to understand and make an effort to do so, and you’re constantly asking what I need. This past year you have given me space to explore who I am. You have let me feel any way that I needed to feel. You have picked me up when I was down, encouraged me when I was feeling defeated, and held me through so many tears. You gave me permission to change and evolve, and I was able to do that because I could trust you to hold space for me. I could spend time processing and grieving and exploring my own growth because we both knew I had to be the fullest version of myself to be able to love and support you and our kids too. You let me be both brave and afraid. You saw me as both, respected me as both, and held me as both. You quite simply let me fully exist. I had to wade into the darkness of this year in order to come through the other side and you gave me the confidence and reassurance to do that. Without you, your love, and your unwavering support I would not have had the grounding I needed to grow in the way I have. I love you.
I recently heard someone talking about how in order to truly belong to both ourselves and then others we need to have a “strong back, soft front, and wild heart.” The strong back allows us to be sturdy but flexible. It allows us to stand on our own two feet and have the confidence and courage we need to march our way through life. The soft front keeps us open and compassionate and tender. It keeps us from shutting ourselves off to the world and the people around us. The wild heart is earned. When we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable and adventure into the hard stuff we are shaped by that and marked forever. When we build up our strong backs, open up our soft fronts, and let our wild hearts be brave we are able to exist wholly. I have to thank you all for this past year’s crash course in belonging and for teaching me to belong to myself so that I can also belong to you. Molly, my back is strong because of you. Jack, my front is wide open because of you. Dan, my heart is wild and I am listening to it because of you. I am a better woman, mother, and wife because of what you all have taught me this year. I feel more a part of our family because of the way you’ve pushed me to stretch myself. And man, do I want that belonging for each of you. This year you have given it to me and I will spend my life trying to make it true for you too.
This year has challenged each of us in our own ways. But we have all grown and adapted. We have grown in strength, courage, empathy, and bravery. While we didn’t need this year to make us good, it did. The world is better because we are in it. I hope you never forget that. I am proud of you. I am proud of us. Everyday I am grateful to be a member of this family. I promise to show up for you in the best way I know how. Always. I love you beyond measure.
I love you,
**Originally published Spring 2021 and republished August 2023