An Open Letter to My Girl on her Fifth Birthday

Molly, Molly, Molly,

This past week we celebrated your 5th birthday. These have been the wildest, most chaotic, unexpected, heart wrenching, and above all else, incredibly beautiful, five years, of my life!

There is so much that I want to remember about you, and this sacred time that we have shared together. Just you and me. As our moments grow into hours, and our days pour into weeks, followed by months, and then years, I become more and more achingly certain, that these are destined the best times of my life. The shared moments that I’ve spent with you. Just me and my girl…

You, you are everything. In fact, you are bigger than everything… As your Glammie and I like to remind you; “You are the sky; everything else is just the weather.” You repeat this sentiment out loud on occasion; finding joy in the looks that it evokes on our faces, not knowing that the happiness (forming wrinkles around my eyes), comes from “the knowing;” the knowing that someday you will understand the meaning of this…

When I think of this year, when I think of you, when I think of me, and when I think of our life together, the word synchronicity finds me.

This year, just before your birthday we closed on a new home. It wasn’t easy. It took hard work (of a lot of people), sweat, some legit tears, and longer than anticipated; but still, it totally happened. A home that is double the value of the one we last owned… I’m not mentioning that to be a pompous ass, but because it feels significant. I’ve never been great at gambling, but it strikes me as similar to having doubled down; and winning!!!

And when it happened Molly, the check I brought to the closing ended up containing three 11’s in it! That’s a wicked big deal if you’re a spiritual Mainer, like me… Synchronicity.

Speaking of hard things… We are actually in the middle of a pandemic right now! It’s all been kinda scary, very different, uncertain, and cumulatively exhausting; to be honest…

The hard, cold truth, is that people are dying. Dying alone; literally and figuratively. Small businesses are suffering as well; fighting to stay alive. Hearts are breaking… Lives of the surviving are being dramatically changed.

We are some of the lucky ones, but it hasn’t been without a lot of adjustments, and lost sleep (on my part). There’s this thing now called “social distancing.” It prevents us from being able to do a lot of our favorite things. Albeit, a minor inconvenience comparatively, but uncomfortable nonetheless…

Oddly enough, I’ve noticed that in many ways this pandemic feels familiar. It reminds me of the grief that has tugged at me. The grief that has poked at me; kneading it’s way between my head and heart. The grief that I have learned to walk forward with, holding hands; fingers interlaced.

It feels like a long, uncomfortable pause; at the exact moment of impact. A freeze frame or photograph that is illuminated by vivid heartache, fear, and all of the unknown; still, but fluid with emotion… It’s lonely. It’s challenging to sit with this new reality. It’s white hot. It’s brutal, but ultimately inescapable.


I keep re-reading that again. “It’s ultimately inescapable.” What a truth. It all brings me back. The unexpectedness. The shattering of life as we once knew it. It’s hauntingly familiar, but I’m strangely at peace with most of it. I’m annoyed, disheartened, and sad, but at peace; and I think it’s because we’ve been here before. We’ve been here before, and because of that I know; I know that we will survive.

I’ve been reading this book titled “Untamed,” by Glennon Doyle. In this book she writes “Grief is a cocoon from which we emerge new.” I can’t help but sit with the idea that our world is in a collective cocoon right now. And wouldn’t you know it… we happen to be preparing to hatch butterflies at home! They were only caterpillars when I read this part of the book. Together we have watched them grow, and shed their skin, several times each, and now they have fully hardened into chrysalides. I let you gently hold the lid that the cocoons are attached to last week, as we got ready to place it into the “butterfly habitat.” One of them was twitching with movement; we both looked at it awestruck. There is so much going on in there; the kind of metamorphosis that you have to see to believe. The kind of transformation that you have to live to understand; as we have.

Just days before our state mandated quarantine I received a phone call from your fathers attorney. A call during which the attorney stated that your father has “jumped through hoops,” to be able to have supervised visits with you; and that he wants to amend our custody agreement (because he has none).

The phone call and conversation stirred up a lot for me; to put it gently. I was that caterpillar shedding its skin, while I called lawyers of my own. It felt unexpected, partly because I know his probation won’t be done until November. I thought I had more time. Life often presents illusions like that; guarantees that don’t really exist…

There I was twitching in my cocoon, searching for the answers. Wanting to do what I believe is in your best interest. It just feels unfair, honestly. You are this incredibly wild, enthusiastic, playful, and loving little girl. I’m far from perfect, but I do work hard; specifically to always explain in an age appropriate manner, where your father is; when he comes up in conversation. This happened just a couple of months ago, and while we were chatting about it you asked me about the bad choices your father made. You looked me in my eyes and you said “Mom, did my daddy push me down a water slide!? Is that the bad thing he did!?” I giggled and assured you that was not the case. “No, baby, that wasn’t it.”

There I was shaking In chrysalis, thinking about how unscathed you are. This is what worries me. It strikes me as selfish for him to try to see you now, before you can gather some sort of understanding of what his bad choices were. Just as (I’m sure) me keeping you from him, could look or feel vengeful to some….

The thing is babe, placing you in a room with a man you don’t know, telling you he’s your father, and letting another stranger watch over the two of you; feels nauseatingly uncomfortable, and dishonest. (Emotions that I’ve been learning to trust)…

Allowing this (to me), would suggest that I think it’s a safe idea. Yet, I don’t think that your father is a safe man, unless he has truly changed. I’m achingly aware that if you were to know him; you would love him; I sure did. Unfortunately, loving something doesn’t always mean that it is good for us…

You aren’t ready to hear or comprehend the truth of his actions, and it doesn’t sit well with my soul that I would allow or encourage (if it’s up to me) you to form a relationship, under this potential false pretense; that he is a safe harbor for your love.

So here in this cocoon I’ve come back to questioning, “How do we know if he’s changed?” Well for starters, I think his apology needs to be at least as loud as the insanity of his goodbye was to you. That gauge will belong to you one day, but in the meantime it’s mine. It’s my job to keep you safe. Let’s see him jump through those hoops his attorney spoke of.

A week after getting that first phone call I got another, in which his lawyer reported that he hasn’t yet had the psychosexual evaluation. This is something that is mandated by the state, not me, if he wants supervised visits with you.

Synchronicity at work.

For your birthday I helped build a swing set in the yard of our new home for you, but the two months that lead to the culmination of your most recent circle around the sun, reminded me that the most precious gifts can’t be wrapped or opened.

I’ve been silently considering that this pandemic/time of quarantine are equivalent to the maternity leave I couldn’t afford to take. This time has exhaustingly doubled my gratitude, because I know it’s all so fleeting…

Molly, you are wild; and it’s truthfully a glittering sight to behold. You are extremely enthusiastic, creative, fun loving, and so smart! You report having a boyfriend named Dana, but also mention marrying your best friend Ellis, all of the time. None of that seems bizarre to you, because in your mind all things are possible; still. I love that. You sing and dance and use your voice from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. You live your life with a sort of reckless abandon, that helps me remember what it means to be truly alive.

Thank you for choosing me. Here’s to year 5!!! I love you baby.

Xoxo -Mom

P.s. I finished this letter while on a walk today, and when I got home TWO butterflies had emerged from their cocoons. Synchronicity. 💖

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