Wednesday, December 13, 2017

LETTER TO LIEM | MARCH 2014



Dear Liem,

This is one of my favorite photographs of us. There are so many imperfections, from our flyaways to the crooked lines, but I would argue it's these imperfections that are precisely what makes the photo so perfect. The asymmetry and the imbalance and the starknessthey all add to the depth of composition, but also to the depth of emotion. I see so much in my expressionpeace, calm, fear, sadness, longing, appreciation, love. And I'm just grateful to have captured this moment, the essence of motherhood as I see it, just as you were on the cusp of becoming a full-blown toddler.

I've been thinking a lot lately about motherhood and the bond between mothers and their babies. I get to thinking about it a lot on my off weekends, especially when I'm out and about and spy a mother with her little onespushing a bright red shopping cart full of groceries, a toddler walking patiently beside her and a baby attached to her hipsuch a simple, yet striking snapshot of a strong mother. A strong woman. One who sacrifices so much but gains so much at the same time. The dichotomy that is motherhood.

When you were first born, the brick of responsibility and sacrifice hit me really hard. And it seems ridiculous, but still, I have to admit that before you were born I was caught up in the pure excitement of having a baby, the cute clothes and gadgets and just the newness of everything. Little did I know it would be a test of sorts, a test to see if I could still consider a dark time in my life as a gift.

No one tells you when you get pregnant that parenthood will probably be one of the hardest things you ever do. That'd be pretty crappy, huh? But sometimes the crappy things are also the most true and honest. And so, I wish someone had let me in on this. But there are things in life you must realize and suss out all on your own, and things you can't possibly understand until you experience them firsthand. These things are meant to rattle you and test your character, which will be determined by how you come out the other end.

Shortly after you were born, I had the worst anxiety I ever experienced, and on top of all the hormonal and physical changes I was going throughbecause of themI feared that I had a lost a sense of connection with you. Then came the separation and divorce, which I felt clouded our connection even more (I later discovered I allowed this to happen). I was sad for that time lost, and I was scared that we'd never regain that connection, that beautiful bond that mothers often talk about feeling the exact moment they lay eyes on their babies.

But with the passing of time, things change. We go through trials that reshape our outlook on life. And I'm a firm believer in that life is all about perspective. If we are able to change our perspective, we can realize that something ugly can actually be very pretty and more importantly, that the ugly things don't have as much power over us as we might think.

As we both get older, I feel like we are rebuilding that bond. And I'm starting to think that maybe it just needed time and fleshing out, which I think is true of all great relationships. We can be dedicated to the idea of unconditional love, and I'm a big supporter of that, but while it forms a good base, it's nothing without time and dedication and nurturing.

At the end of the day, you're your own spirit, my dear. And while I vow to guide and support and cultivate that spirit, sometimes I think it best just to sit back, welcome the imperfections, and watch you flourish. And I hope our bond is better for it.

Love,
Mom
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