to my daughter,
oh, little love. so much has happened in the few months since i’ve written a letter to you here. what strikes me the most is how much you have developed emotionally. truly growing and evolving and displaying your own strengths and tackling your day-to-day challenges.
i’ve heard 3rd grade is a big step. academically, i assumed. but what i have witnessed is more social, more emotional. you and your friends are starting to carve out your own little spaces in the world through your interests, interactions with others, and voicing opinions on what you experience and see through the lens of a 3rd grader. you are starting to learn to prioritize your interests outside of school, spending more time reading and writing, trying out different sports, identifying peers that you prefer to share time with, and displaying a better understanding of your own self-care.
like me, you are incredibly sensitive. this is both a blessing and a curse. you are compassionate and thoughtful. you love to write letters to the people you care about. the other day, we were in the car and you had a 37 minute rant* (*yes, 37 minutes of you talking, me listening and not saying a word) on the importance of friendship and how you would like to spend more time creating more meaningful interactions with your loved ones. you also are profoundly impacted by other people’s words, inflection in their voices, and anything less than overwhelmingly positive comments that are directed towards you. this sensitivity, the ability for you to feel so deeply, manifests itself in a variety of ways, sometimes creating laughter and other times, tears.
here’s what i’ve determined. you are one special little girl. of course, it’s easy to feel this way because i am your mother. and others say it to me, because you are my daughter. but you ARE special. it’s my job to encourage you to hang onto your magic. that deep, radiant compassion. that devotion to your loved ones. that instinct to reflect on your experiences. that drive to shine. that unique ability to make people in your presence feel expanded. don’t be afraid to use your strengths. during the good moments, for sure. and especially on those days when things aren’t so good to work through the real hard stuff.
you are already climbing high in my eyes. reaching new heights every single day. sometimes i just want to hold on to you and not let you go. but mostly i hope you feel it too. hang onto it, little love. thank you, as always, for being you. i love you more and more every day.
“the measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” ~ vince lombardi
a few years ago, my daughter and i were living in an apartment, in a town that i really enjoyed. it was within walking distance to coffee shops, the train, and her school. when it came time to make a change, i decided i wanted to find a place with more green space. hopefully a house where she could run around, ride her bike, and let the dogs run free. given my financial situation – and the cost of living in this area – it was going to be a tough search. somehow though, i stumbled across a rental of this old house, on lots of land, with an apple orchard. from the first time i saw it, i knew i’d live here. i love that the original home owners had 13 children, and the current owners raised their children here. i love the quietness of the street, the vibe of the little town, and how comfortable i felt each time i walked into the house. as we settled in, my love for this place continued to grow, and i felt really at home in this place on the orchard. about this time last year, the possibility of us needing to move out of our home was growing. due to my personal and financial situation, i wasn’t able to sustain living here with just the two of us. and yet the thought of moving was nauseating to me. i had no desire to leave and decided i should think creatively and determine ways in which we could stay.
the idea of finding a roommate was daunting. i hadn’t lived with roommates since my college days. and i was skeptical of finding a group living situation that would be suitable for a single mother and her 8 year old daughter. and yet, i didn’t want to let my skepticism overtake the possibility of creating a new space, in our current home. once i embraced the idea of asking around to folks who may be interested, the search didn’t take long. the pieces all started to come together, and this past summer, a newly married couple (and their 4 legged pup) put plans into place to move in with us. j & j were friends of mine, but new-ish friends that i had just started to really get to know in this last year. they were looking to move out of the city, into a more rural environment. i realized that it was going to be a big change for all of us – for them, as a married couple living with us and vice versa. in this newly formed communal living space, we would need to come to an agreement on schedules, space sharing, decision making, communication norms, food planning, and family meals. not to mention outside projects like gardening or apple tree maintenance or the possibility of beekeeping, getting chickens, or beer brewing. while i was a little unsure as to how it would all evolve, i was very excited. it just seemed so right to me, from the moment we first discussed it. almost too good to be true.
things were chaotic for all of us during the move-in time. it was the peak of summer, with the inconsistent schedules and travel plans and lack of a routine that comes during this time of year. it seemed like it took us weeks before we really spent any sort of time together. but as things winded down at the end of summer, it felt like we were all settling in. to the newly changed space, to our different routines, to each other. and it has far exceeded my expectations.
we half-jokingly say that we are in a communal living space. while i wouldn’t designate our way of living as a commune, there are characteristics that resonate: a collective household, group decision making, striving towards a lower ecological footprint through shared resources, and embracing an idealized form of a family group. one of the most unexpected ways in which this communal living space has impacted me is watching j & j interact with coco. all three of them have a similar balance of being smart, passionate, funny, and loving. there is a seemingly mutual adoration between the three, and the ease in which they have woven into each other’s lives is pretty freakin’ awesome.
i feel very fortunate for this unexpected & wonderful living space. it’s opening my eyes and heart in ways i didn’t realize, particularly because the impact of the learning it is having on my daughter is so rich. i trust that this is the beginning of a new path for the little one and i. thank you for holding our hands and coming along.
“home. . . was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” ~ sarah dessen