I wrote a letter to you a few weeks ago, but that was before I knew you were you. It was before I knew you were a girl, for one thing, although your brother was adamant that he knew you were. It was also before I remembered what it was like to have an infant around. I had forgotten about doing my best to find things in the dark so I wouldn’t wake your mother up while I was changing your diaper in the middle of the night. I’d forgotten about the Zombie Parent Shuffle, the dance steps that exhausted parents do as they pace back and forth while trying to rock their newborns back to sleep. I’d forgotten how quickly dirty laundry adds up and how frequently newborns need their diapers to be changed (seriously, turn off the faucet, would you?).
In any event, now that you’re here, I wanted to write you your first official letter. As I’m writing this, you’re five days shy of your one-month birthday. You haven’t been around for very long but you’ve already changed so much. You’re a pound and a half heavier than you were when you were born and you take up significantly more space in the bassinet than you did when we first brought you home. Your mom and I are actually a little bit nervous because we were hoping that the bassinet would buy us more time before you would start sharing a room with your brother, but we may have to make that switch a little sooner than expected. You’re alert1 and focused and learning new things every day. And, most importantly for your mom and me, you’re only waking up once at night to eat, which we really appreciate.
I mentioned in the last letter that I was a little nervous about the fact that I didn’t feel the same sort of connection with you that I did with Eitan before he was born. I can say that, in the short time I’ve had to get to know you, I’m already feeling better about those nerves. I’m sure it has something to do with me putting in the effort to be there to change your diapers and rock you to sleep at night, but I think the fact that you’re such an easygoing baby helps a lot too. It’s a weird thing about being a parent: you haven’t been around for very long, but I already have trouble picturing a time when you weren’t around. I smile whenever I see you and the warmth I get from feeling you sleeping on my shoulder or in my arm helps melt away any sort of muscle soreness that might try to creep in.
I should warn you: it’s a weird world you’re coming into. Everyone has gone a little crazy, especially over the last few months, since it’s an election year. Civil disagreement and debate seem to have been killed off and replaced by yelling and outrage and name calling. Also, women have been making progress in improving their station in society, but things are far from perfect. You’re going to be fine, I’m sure, but you’re going to have to deal with some struggles that your brother won’t even have to think about. I know it’s not fair, but that’s another warning: life rarely is.
That being said, you also have a lot to look forward to. You have a brother who is so eager to play with you that he lies down with you on your play mat and shows you all of his toys. You have parents who will do whatever it takes to make sure that you feel loved and that your needs are met. And you have an extended family that adores you and will always be there to support you. You’re never going to be short on allies, which is not always the case nowadays.
I’m not going to go on and on about my hopes and dreams for you. You’re going to have enough things to worry about growing up in this day and age, like navigating the increasingly tricky world of social media and handling various other societal pressures, so I don’t want to tack on additional expectations. I just hope that you’ll be able to find your place in the world and maybe disrupt a few things along the way. If you turn out anything like your mom, you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, wherever you go. That’s a good thing; it means you’ll be strong, assertive and that you’ll never be afraid to advocate for yourself. That’s about as much as I could ask for from a daughter.
Welcome to the world, Shayna. We’re so happy to have you.
1. Be alert; the world needs more lerts. Hashtag dad jokes. (Ugh, I’m sorry, kid; you’re doomed.)↩