Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Letter to My Unborn Niece/Nephew

Dear Baby,

I know the parents are supposed to be the ones writing the letters. I know that I live five hours away from you and that we might not see much of each other and so you might find this note a little odd when you’re older. But your arrival into this world has had me thinking about a lot of things ever since your Mom and Dad told me you were going to join our family. And I am a writer so all my thinking tends to go into words. I hope you don’t mind if I tell you some stuff.

Just the fact you are going to become a thing amazes me. A living, breathing, crying, smiling thing. I believe humans tend to think more about the end of life than the beginning and so we focus more on death than we do on birth. Probably because (we think) we can control death and there’s nothing we can do about being born. Right now, though, you are growing big and strong in your mom’s tummy and to me, that is a miracle. I’m not a sappy person but every time I think about tiny humans coming into the world, my head reels. My heart thuds a little faster. Sometimes I think about it so much that I have to sit down and remember that it’s been happening for hundreds of thousands of years. But still, it feels like a miracle.

I’m glad I don’t know yet whether you are a boy or a girl. That means that there are no pressures on you right now. If you were a girl, maybe we’d think you were going to a ballerina or a nurse. If you were a boy, maybe right now we’d be thinking you’d be a firefighter or the next President of the United States. Baby, I want you to know that people are going to try and put you into boxes your whole life, but that’s it’s okay to climb out of those boxes. Maybe you will be a girl and you’d like to be a firefighter. Or maybe you’ll be the greatest male dancer of your generation. After all, most boxes are only cardboard and you’ll find they dissolve under sweat and tears and muscles.

You are coming into a scary world. Mom and Dad and me and every other adult that loves you will try and shield you from it. We’re your protectors and we like our job. But we can’t save you from everything. We can’t hide the fact that there have been over 250 mass shootings in the United States this year alone. Slavery is still a thing. So is child labor. For all that, I’m sorry, Baby. I’m sorry we couldn’t make the world perfect before you arrived.

You might be frightened now, but it’s okay. Because as many scary and bad things are happening every day, there is kindness and brilliance and hope everywhere we look. This year, the year you were born, gay marriage finally became legal in our country and that might not seem like much to you, but it means you can marry whomever you want and be free to live your life. This year, 2015, the first female model with Down Syndrome walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. People of all kinds are doing things and being things that they were told they could not do, could not be. Baby, be one of these people.

This world, this complicated, beautiful world is yours now. From the rainforests to the African plains to the Mediterranean Sea and everywhere in between. Baby, there are actual castles in this world; I would know, I’ve seen them. I can’t wait until Daddy takes you to climb your first mountain and Mama takes you to yoga class and maybe one day, to France. You have the best parents, Baby, so give them lots of hugs, okay?

I think you’re going to like this family, Baby. We are far from perfect, but we are strong. That’s all you need to be, really. Strong and imperfect. Everything else will fall into place. I know it will. Enjoy the rest of your time in Mama’s tummy where it’s dark and quiet. Because before you know it, things will be bright and loud and confusing. But don’t worry, Baby, there will be a lot of people willing to hold your hand. I, for one, can’t wait to meet you.

Aunt Marie

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