Dear Millie

Hi sweet girl.  This morning I'm sitting in a hotel room alone.  Your daddy had to work this morning which meant I have had the room to myself for the last few hours.  This was our last night away for awhile.  I'm 2 weeks away from having Matilda and needed some time to rest.  I've been getting photos and video updates from Grandma and Pop's house, where you spent the night.  You are having the time of your life eating pancakes, watching Sofia the First and making a birthday cake out of playdough for your new bunny.  You are completely happy.  So happy, in fact, that I know when I go to pick you up, you'll be angry.  You won't want to leave and I'll have to resort to some bribery to get you to come home with me.  Typical "leaving Grandma's house" behavior.

I just had breakfast in the lobby. I'm staying in a hotel on the University of Utah campus and the lobby was filled with families.  Mostly the parents of students who go to school here.  I caught bits of conversations here and there.  Discussions about classes, about whatever sports team they are playing on, etc.  One conversation that struck me was a mom asking her 21-year-old son if this was now "home" or if his house back in Colorado was still "home".  I thought for a moment about how far ahead of this parenting process they are from me.  You are still home and will be for at least 15 more years.  Matilda isn't even officially here yet.  And then I realized, it'll be here before I know it.  Before I know it Daddy and I will be visiting you somewhere at college.  You are so bright my love. You are going to take the world by storm with your smarts, wit and personality.  Right now if I ask you what you want to be when you grow up you proudly exclaim, "I wanna be the last fire fighter with nail polish!"  You are a wonder my girl.

The last month or two has been very hard for me.  I haven't felt very well. This pregnancy has been really hard on me. I feel very run-down and exhausted.  I have wanted to cherish every possible moment with you.  Because soon you won't be my only girl.  You won't be the sole focus of my attention.  Soon my love will be showered upon your sister too.  I have wanted so much for these final months to be special.  And in a lot of ways it has been.  You turned 3 and we had a big Wizard of Oz party for you.

You turned 3 and transitioned into your "big girl" room.

You've learned to pee on the potty. We have had so many special times and you have already been through so much change.  I worry so much about how you are going to adjust to the biggest change yet.  I worry that you will feel neglected when my attention has to be divided between you and your sister.  I worry that you will act-out. I worry that you will resent me.  Already you and I are having battles.  Epic 3-year-old battles over simple things such as you wanting your pretzel fishy crackers and not the snacks I packed. Battles over you wanting to watch "The Gruffalo" before bed when I insist you watch no more TV.  You've hit me, screamed, and cried.  I have yelled at you, slammed the door, put you in time-out.  And yet, at the end of the day, through tears we always seem to make-up. You have such an amazing understanding of human nature for your age.  You amaze me after a hard day when you say, "It's ok momma.  Tomorrow we will have a better day."  You are so forgiving and so wonderful.  I haven't been a very good momma to you lately and yet miraculously you still love me.

The other morning we were dancing in the kitchen together. You said, "Mom, I need you" so I picked you up and you laid your head on my shoulder while we danced to "Over the rainbow."  I thought to myself, "This is love.  This is pure bliss. I couldn't love another human as much as I love this little girl."  And I found myself feeling guilty for having another child.  How could I POSSIBLY love another child as much as you? How could I think for an instant that taking any attention from you was a good thing?

However, the last few months I have seen how you thrive when you are playing with other children.  You are so happy to play at the park with kids, or to hang out with Sam or Harvey.  You want that interaction.  You are going to LOVE being a big sister.  While you may be resentful of Matilda at times, I know overall you are going to be amazing.  You are going to be my big helper.  You are going to teach Matilda the ropes of life as a Youkstetter.  And in a couple of years the two of you will be the best of friends.  I know the minute Matilda is born we won't be able to imagine a life without her in it.  Right now, I just feel scared.

When I was pregnant with you and had just a couple of weeks left to go, I couldn't wait.  You couldn't come soon enough.  Every day I lived with anticipation and excitement.  I was scared to deliver you, but I wasn't scared to be a mom.  When in reality, I should have felt just the opposite. You were my first and therefor you will always be special.  Your birth still marks the most meaningful and profound moment of my life.

YOU made me a mother Millie Pearl.  You changed me from a largely selfish woman to a mom.  You are the one that rocked my world.  You needed me more than anyone else.  I fed you, I sustained you, I nurtured you.  You are the one that brought on such a wave of hormones that I couldn't eat for days.  I cried and cried yet loved you so deeply and so fully that I could barely breathe.  You took away my sleep as I rocked you for hours at night, nursed you through scary illnesses and bad dreams. You made me question my role in life as a mom versus a career woman. You challenged my relationship with your daddy.  You brought us closer than ever but also created some issues as we have navigated our world as parents.  You made me feel extreme amounts of guilt as I dropped you off at daycare those first weeks, or make the decision to stop nursing you.  You made me wonder if I would ever feel like myself again.  Truthfully, I never have. And I am grateful for it.

Millie, I love you to the moon and back. Thank you for making me a momma.  Thank you for teaching me that loving others is far more important than loving ourselves.  Thank you for showing me the power of the female body as I grew, birthed and recovered from you. Thank you for the nights that have brought me to tears because they were so hard and exhausting.  Thank you for your bright smile and songs each morning.  While you have challenged every part of me, you have brought me more joy than I thought possible.  From your first smiles, first steps, first words and first songs you have made me the happiest momma in the world.  These last three years with you have been the best of my life.  Your love of the quirkiest things (Mr. Big Guy, Nutcrackers, stop signs) has just tickled me.  Your quick wit and your personality has floored me.  There is no one in the world quite like you.  You are spectacular.

This letter is for you sweetheart.  It's for you when you are a teenager and feel that you aren't loved enough. It's for you when you feel you have been treated unfairly. It's for you as you prepare to become a mother, or to have a second child and are mixed with similar emotions that I am currently fighting.  It's simply a time for me to tell you how much I adore you.

Hang on baby girl. You are only my baby for a couple more weeks and then it's off to another great adventure together.  I love you.