There are still a few months until we meet, but already I'm busy writing you letters. (This is probably just one of a million times you'll be reminded that your mum's a writer — a sentimental one. You've been warned.) I started writing things down because I honestly couldn't stop thinking about you, and because even though I've only been carrying you for a matter of months, it already feels like there's so much to share. It's all in a tiny journal on my nightstand, one I'll give you someday when you're a bit older. There's a letter about how your dad and I met, another about the day you became a reality, plus others about your grandpa and your grandma and some of the special people who already love you. See? I told you: a sentimental writer.
In all these letters, I find myself imagining the mum I hope to be when you arrive. That mum I picture, she's a tall order, but although there's a whole lot I can't plan for, there are also some promises I vow to keep . . .
I promise to begin and end your days with the reminder that I adore you. At night, you'll hear "I love you" loud and clear, and I promise to wake you up each morning with a soft voice and an open smile, just the way my mum did with me. That might seem like a small thing, but trust me: it makes for a pleasant start to the day, and when you're a teenager, you'll be really, really grateful that I'm not shoving the curtains open and yelling for you to get up.
When you try new things, I promise not to show you that I'm a tiny bit (or, more likely, very) scared. Deep down I might be worried or anxious or slightly terrified of what might happen if it doesn't work out for you, but I won't let my fears slow you down. I'll tell you to take chances, to go for it, to trust yourself. I promise to trust you.
I promise to make your birthday a big damn deal. Whether you're turning 1 or 35, I promise balloons and streamers and surprise parties and the cakes of your choice. Some years you might love that, and other years it might feel sort of cheesy, but when you look back on birthdays past, I promise you'll know that you were celebrated by the people who cared about you most.
If you mess up in a small way, I promise to acknowledge it, help you, then let it go. And whenever you mess up in a big way, I promise to feel the weight of it and push you to do the same. I promise to let you make those tough mistakes, to address them when I need to, and to keep on loving you all the same.
I promise to build you one hell of a library . . . or, at least, to bring you to one. I'll help you learn to read and then I'll share with you all the stories, true and imagined, that have made me who I am. I promise to stand by, thrilled, as you discover the Harry Potter world for yourself, and to give you all the Roald Dahl books that swept me away when I was small, and to offer you my collection of heavily underlined novels just as soon as you're able to love them too. I promise you a life filled with words and books and imagination and the space to be as creative as you want to be.
I promise to be active — to set that example and inspire you to keep moving. There will be after-dinner walks and Sunday morning runs and sunny hikes along the beach. Oh, I promise you sports, too. Plenty of them. Your dad will teach you how to throw a football, how to nail free throws, and I'll show you the ins and outs of soccer. Swimming, too. All of it or none of it, I promise that can be up to you. Golf, basketball, volleyball, dance — I promise to let you try whatever grabs you and to let you quit when you don't love it anymore.
I promise to surround you with art of all kinds. To share my love for pop culture, for movies and music and Broadway and Hollywood. I'll show you the good stuff and the cheesy stuff, the Oscar winners and the terrible comedies, the Beatles and the '90s pop that makes most people cringe. (You'll notice, of course, that I won't cringe. And you'll quickly learn that when it comes down to it, our family is Team *NSYNC, not Backstreet Boys.) Over the years I promise to bring you to museums and concerts and plays, and I'll totally get it when you transform into an all-out crazy fan of something, or someone. If you swear you won't make fun of me, I might even show you my homemade Justin Timberlake poster from 2001. Like I said: Team *NSYNC, OK?
When you have a bad day, I promise to listen. Or give you room to breathe, whatever seems best at the time. And when you get upset or angry or really, in-your-bones mad at me, I promise that I'll try to understand. I'll practice patience; I'll try, anyway.
Year after year, I promise to carve out all kinds of special time for just you and your dad. From day one I'll do everything I can to support that relationship and to let it be as special as the one I share with my dad. Together you two will take camping trips, go to football games, road trip along the California coast. He'll introduce you to his reggae favourites and way, way more 49ers trivia than you'll ever care to know. On weekends, he'll bring you along for Sunday drives, and over the Summer, he'll let you tag along to watch Giants games from the bleacher seats. Hockey games, though — you'll save those for me.
I promise to be honest with you, even when it's hard, but I also promise to protect you. When there's something you need to know, I'll tell it to you straight, and if it might do more harm than good, I'll keep it to myself. I promise that I'll try to recognise the difference.
Speaking of difference, I promise to celebrate what makes you different. I promise to let your weirdness shine.
I promise to mark the major moments as they come, to take pictures and fill out scrapbooks and document the biggest milestones of your life. It's important to acknowledge the little things, too, so I'll do what my mum did, and at night, I'll ask you what you're grateful for. It'll give you perspective and a sense of calm. Hope, too.
Mostly, sweet baby, I promise to show you love in all its best forms. I'll love you and your dad and our friends and our families. With words and with actions I'll say it and I'll show it, and if just one of my promises can be kept, let it be this: that you'll feel it. A love so big that it fills you up, that it makes you feel safe.
I can't wait to meet you.
Love you already,