Letters to Our Kids: Love, Unexpected
Parenthood: it’s an experience like no other. From the time the little ones arrive, we want to protect, teach, encourage, and guide them through the often rocky path of childhood. We also want them to learn from our past challenges and triumphs. That’s why we’ve launched FITL’s Letters to Our Kids.
Here, we’re sharing the stories that you, our readers, hope and plan to tell your children someday. What are the moments that have most impacted your life? And what would you like your children to learn from these experiences now, when they’re little, and down the road, as they grow up?
This letter comes from the dad of a toddler.
As I’m writing this, you are just a young girl, with your whole life before you. By the time you are able to read this on your own, some of that life will have unfolded, most likely with different hopes and dreams than those you have now.
What I want to tell you now is a story of true love, or rather a story of a love that has stayed true. It’s not quite like the stories you so enjoy now, where the glass slipper fits and the prince and princess live happily ever after. But that’s exactly the point, since I’ve learned that love is never that simple, or easy. Don’t get me wrong, your mom and I are still very much in love. But we’ve been through some really tough times.
We met, fell in love, and quickly got married. Within months of walking down the aisle, we would face our first challenge. Your mom’s career was taking off in one city, and I needed to be in another for mine. But after many difficult conversations, what first seemed like an impossible obstacle was overcome when I decided to take a year off so she could pursue her professional dreams. So far, so good, right?
I wish, dear daughter, it had all worked out the way we planned. Two years in one city for her career, then the next few in another for mine. What we hadn’t planned for was how my job would take me away so much. Your mommy was very lonely, missing all of the friends and family that she had left behind.
Before you were born, we thought we’d prepared for everything. We arranged new furniture in your room and bought all the clothing and accessories a baby could need. I thought I knew exactly what to expect when we were expecting. Boy, was I wrong. I thought your mom would have lots of play groups, support groups, and new mom friends beating down the door. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, your mom got very sad. And it took us both a long time to realize that this sadness was more than a mild case of the blues. It was actually postpartum depression.
I wish I could tell you that I rode in and saved the day, that I was Mommy’s knight in shining armor. But it didn’t quite work that way. The best thing I did do, though, was register at a great nanny agency. We got very lucky — the first person we interviewed worked out beautifully and she loved you so much. At the same time, we got professional help, each of us, to deal with a very stressful situation. Slowly, life got better.
An elderly neighbor, also a parent, told us a saying that I’ll always remember about having a baby: “In the beginning, every day seems like a year. Then before you know it, every year seems like a day.”
She was right. Your mom and I made it through, our love intact or maybe even stronger because of what we endured, and we finally relocated to a city we liked much better. Over time, resentment and disappointment disappeared and we became the very happy family we’d always hoped for.
We are overjoyed to be your parents and so proud of the person you are becoming, too quickly, every day. Despite you being such an easy child, taking on the challenges of parenthood was so much harder than we had anticipated. If you find yourself in a similar situation someday – a new mom, lonely, in need of help, I hope you will reach out to us, because we will do whatever we can to make things better.
Check out some previous Letters to Our Kids here…