Dear Doggie, who used to be our one and only child and now gets the occasional belly rub: thank you for holding your pee in your eight-and-a-half-year-old bladder for the better part of the day, week after week. Your father and I were trying to survive the first few months of parenthood with little knowledge of what we were doing.
Dear Random Woman in the Paradise Bakery Line: thank you for telling me how beautiful my baby-acne-ridden newborn was, and that you hoped she would turn out as beautiful as me. I was newly post-partum, emotional, had large black circles under my eyes and a spare tire around my waist. I needed that compliment more than you know.
Dear Mommy Friend That Shall Remain Nameless: thank you for disobeying my “no battery operated” toy rule, and buying my daughter a bright pink light-up vanity for her first birthday. As the only gender-specific toy we have, it brings a smile to my face that she already enjoys applying the pretend lipstick (even if it is on her cheek).
Dear Best Friend Since Eighth Grade: thank you for being so gracious during my pregnancy and beyond. For not drinking your Skinny Vanilla Latte in front of me, knowing I couldn’t have one, and for indulging in malted Oreo shakes so I could “get my calcium.” I promise to eat endless cannoli with you when it is your turn.
Dear Brother, Three Years My Junior: thank you, for every time you see our daughter, acting like there is no place you’d rather be. I know you are only twenty-five and are probably giving up a jam-packed weekend of bar-hopping and dating in the city that never sleeps, to spend Mother’s Day with us. But I promise, she will remember your smiles of excitement her whole life.
Dear Dad: thank you for pretending to not notice me pumping while we sat on the couch next to each other. I recognize that the constant “Moo-ing” sound may have given me away, but your denial made me feel at ease.
Dear Mom: thank you for supporting me when I was pregnant and stated that our daughter would sleep in our room for the first three months, and then continuing to support me when on Day 13 of her life I moved her to her own room. And for all the other claims I had and then reneged. You’ve never made me feel like I broke a promise to myself or others during this whole “parenting” thing, only that I learned something new and made a more fitting decision.
Dear Husband: thank you for being such a large influence on the way we raise our daughter; you see through my Type A personality and let yourself choose your own way of doing things without compromising the day’s orderly schedule. And I also appreciate you recognizing that “I’m too tired to give the baby a bath” does not mean I’m too tired to catch up on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Dear Little Bird: thank you for not judging me when I forgot to put the filter on your bottle so it came pouring out into your mouth, leaving little breathing room and forcing you to down it like a college freshman being initiated into a frat. And for not berating your father and I when we forgot to bring a single ounce of formula to dinner with us in Chinatown in downtown Chicago. And for not holding a grudge against me when I didn’t realize you were dairy and soy intolerant for the first two weeks of your life, resulting in so much tummy pain that I wouldn’t have blamed you for clicking your heels three times and wishing your way back into my womb to return to the way things were.
You taught me what it is to be flexible, even when I had no desire to be. You also showed me what it is to love something unconditionally, for when I didn’t think I could possibly stay awake for a single hour more, feed you again, or change another diaper, I did--for you. Today, the biggest thank-you goes to you, for making me a mom.