I didn’t want to leave you.
I knew you would cry, I knew I would cry, I knew ripping off the band-aid and walking out that door would hurt.
I ugly-cried when we got in the car, assuring your Daddy through the tears that I did, in fact, want to be with him.
But see, my girls, I love you so.
But the thing is, I love your Daddy too.
Is that possible? To be so completely enamored with all of you?
On the day that I married your Daddy, I thought that my heart and my world were at capacity; it was impossible to grow. Should I try to force it to contain any more love, I would burst.
But my love expanded.
You, my first girl, were born. You my girl, with a passion and a love and a curiosity and a thirst for adventure that reverberates throughout your every word and your every inch.
And again, I worried- what if all of my love is taken up? Will I ever, possibly love another as much as I adore my firstborn?
And my love expanded.
Because you were born; you, my second girl that oozes joy and spins and flirts and cuddles and blows kisses with reckless abandon.
And I learned that I don’t have to split my love between the three of you, breaking off pieces of me to go around.
Somehow rather than having to divide my heart, it is an act of sacred multiplication: my love increases.
You don’t understand this now, your sweet little world ever-rotating around you just as it should right now, but I actually have multiple identities. Yes, I am your Mama. And you are my world.
But also, also I am Daddy’s wife. And he is my rock. Do you sometimes notice when we hug? Do you sometimes see that as you dance around him when he walks in the door from work that he kisses me before he kisses you?
Sometimes, yes, he kisses you first, and that is okay with me; I want you to know and feel and grasp what it is like to be completely adored. Adored completely. I want you to know and feel the safety of your Daddy’s arms, to sit in the embrace of absolute acceptance, just as you are, tattered princess dress and dirt smeared across your face.
If you pay attention to it though, my loves, you will see Daddy catch my eye as he is tackled to the ground by the two of you. If you turn your ear, listen to the rhythm just below the laughter as it cascades down your sides, you will hear him say Hey Babe. You doing good?
It is me and it is him and it is both of you girls. It is us.
But see, this little family of ours began as just your Daddy and I. And then you two girls arrived like flashes of lightening, casting light upon everything we thought we already knew.
I thought that my heart and my life were full, were whole, were right there in front of me. I thought my heart was an ocean, wide and deep, but it really is the river that fills the ocean- a rushing force, cascading and laughing and never-ending.
And so know that even on those days when it seems like I am depleted and have nothing more to give, my love flows from waters that never dry up.
And you need me right now, and I need you. And I dig in and memorize your ten little toes because soon enough they are going to be dashing out to the high school football game. And I hold your hands, kissing your ears and squeezing your sides because all too soon you will brush me away, glancing to see if any of your friends noticed. I let you fall asleep in my arms, breathing in deep your exhaustion. See, my girls, I delight in you.
I’m not always going to get it right. I am so very exhausted, so very doubt-filled, most of the time. I worry about you, I worry about us- the decisions we make and the impact it will have on our family. You know the days I talk about- the ones where we just don’t see eye-to-eye, my temper throbs just below the surface, and Big Feelings spill onto every corner of every room.
But see, your Daddy and I are doing our very best with the two of you. How terrifying, how exhilarating to love something so completely, to be responsible with guarding your lives and building your hearts. So we pray a whole lot. And we seek guidance a whole lot. And we build forts and we read books and we kiss owes and we go on nature hikes and we eat ice cream with spoons right out of the container because we love you so, and what better way to show that than bear hugs and empty ice cream bowls?
But also, also, the way we are loving you so and protecting your hearts and doing our very best with you? It is loving each other. It is fighting for our marriage.
And that looks different ways, my loves. Sometimes all you will notice is your Daddy and I catching eyes and squeezing an elbow as we cross paths, each putting out the fires that flare up with you toddlers like a wrong dress choice or tossed dinner on the floor. Sometimes, all you will hear is an encouragement tossed over to the others’ court: You’re doing good, or even Nailed It. Sometimes, you won’t be there to see it because the only seconds with each other we can steal is a 9pm glass of wine on the front porch as we debrief our overflowing days.
But sometimes, oh-so-rarely, like we just did, your Daddy and I will go on a getaway together. We will put you in the safest and most loving of care, and we will say goodbye to you- But I promise you this, we will return to you and we will miss you every single second. And though I know you don’t understand this right now, it might not be until you are a wife and until you are a mother… but by taking care of our marriage, we are taking care of you. I promise.
One day, we will sit across the table from each other, maybe drinking coffee, and you’ll share with me that you have found your husband. And I will watch you delight in love, and I will watch you stand in the assurance that you couldn’t possibly ever love anyone more than you do in that moment.
But, my girl, you don’t need to worry about having enough love to go around. You will discover a heart that grows in correlation with the amount of love that you need to dispense. You will feel the cascading, overpowering love that holds you through the rapids and steadies you through the canyons. You will experience the divine multiplication that occurs when the more of yourself you give away, the more you have.
And I will stand right there beside you, holding your Daddy’s hand.