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On Knowing Who You Are: 16 Month Letter

Dear Veronica,

You are 16 months old today.

I took this photo of you this afternoon, just outside the house. There is no doubt that you know who you are. When I ask where Veronica is, you point proudly to your chest and declare yourself Gaca.


Not surprisingly, I am almost too tired to write this letter. You are never going to have any idea how exhausting raising children is until you do it yourself. Hopefully, when that day comes you'll call me up, awe in your voice, and thank me reverently. I'll shrug into the phone, brush it off and ignore the torrent of memories flooding over me. You in the nursery at 3AM and god knows what else is to come.  And then you'll ask me to come over and watch your kids so you can get a pedicure. And I will.

At the very least, these are all the things I wish of my own mother, who is not here. I would love to call her and ask her wonderously how she did it. I would love to tell her how thankful I am, how in awe of her I am, and how much I love her. And then I would love to ask her to babysit. A lot.

Anyway, enough of this tired thing. I'm used to it. You are just full of life and I can hardly keep up. From the moment you wake up, with a giant smile on your face, you are ready for the world. You grow more independent by the day and I take pleasure in nothing more than watching you play on your own. You have your own language, your own games, your own ideas about the way things work. It's utterly fascinating to witness. I can never help but gush with pride, even if you are simply lining up your silly band bracelets around the toilet rim. Oh, wait. I didn't really let you do that, did I?

 We went to mom group today at Anne's and I couldn't help but reminisce about how far we have all come, how much you have all grown. You and Ezra spent half the afternoon playing house in a corner of the yard, oblivious to the adults around you. Just a year ago you didn't even know how to roll over yet.

 I can confidently say that at this point I feel utterly at home in being a mother, in being your mother. If anything, it's the rest of my life that has gone to hell. You are the only thing these days, my dear, that recieves my full attention and my most concerted efforts. Everything else has slid into some forgotten neverland, a grey place filled with overbooked calendars and underwatered house plants. I'm currently on a mission to change this however, to revisit and reclaim the lost parts of myself.

I want to be someone you are proud of. I want to be someone that I am proud of too. My plans for this are coming along slowly. I'm working harder than ever these days at conscious living, and I'm getting there. It's never too late to upend your life, sweetheart. To start over, to try again, to reinvent, to explore and demystify. Life is for the living. Anyone who tells you otherwise was never really here.

Tomorrow is your father's birthday. It's also my father's birthday, and my parents wedding anniversary.

There was a time, early on in my relationship with your father, before we'd even met actually, when I had the first inkling that there might be something extraordinary about him, about us. I couldn't shake it, just the tiniest feeling, a kind of little nagging really, a quiet voice urging me to wander down this path a little farther. (Don't ever ignore those voices, those swift tugs to your gut.) Anyway, we were on the phone one night, early on in knowing each other, and I asked him when his birthday is.

October, he said. And I knew. I just knew.

October what?

October 11.

My father's birthday, and the day my parents got married. Best birthday gift I ever got, my father always said of my mother.

It was a sign, even though sometimes I don't believe in signs.

Tomorrow would have been my father's 90th birthday, my parents 35th wedding anniversary. And tomorrow your father will turn 32.

I suspect that this is going to be a monumental year for him. He is quietly growing quite a garden these days, figuratively speaking. (I feel like I have to clarify that given your grandfather's farming background.) I've never seen your father more himself than I have these last couple of months. He is a man that you can be very, very proud of my little Bug. My heart swells with comfort to know that he is your father.

When I think of everything my father was to me, and then I think of how Greg will be all those things to you, I don't fear ever having to leave you. He will always take care of you. He will always explore with you and learn with you and grow with you. And he will never, ever stop loving you like he does. Like a mountain, cracking upwards through the sky, colossal and staid.

Alright, my little snuggler. One more sip of wine and a few last words, and then I must toddle off to bed. Tomorrow is another day. Your day. 





  1. This post made me cry.
    Maybe it’s because I’m days away from having my second baby and I’m emotional . Or maybe it’s because I realize the love you feel for your daughter and I know I feel that same kind of love for mine too.
    I cry a little because I realize how lucky I am to have a husband like you that I too believe if anything were to ever happen to me, my daughter would be taken care of.
    But mostly I cry because I’m thankful for my parents. Even though I don’t know you, your posts about your parents get me every time.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Tali on October 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

  2. This post made me tear up too, Tali.
    Claire, your love for Veronica and Greg (and your parents too) is so strong in these words. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but these letters are such a wonderful gift to Veronica.
    And she is growing into such a little girl now, isn’t she?!

    Comment by Sophie on October 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm

  3. Yes, I have to agree with Tali and Sophie too – these letters are so wonderful, Claire, but I invariably cry!
    The most heart-warming thing is that they are an exploration of how incredible family can be. And, for me, a reminder that despite the fact my parents are no longer together, they are still here, and I’m sure their love for me is still fierce. It’s through your writing that I’ve really been able to appreciate this, and that’s a special gift. Thank you.
    PS. Happy birthday to Greg!

    Comment by Sara M on October 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm

  4. Beautiful!

    Comment by Kristine Hansen on October 11, 2010 at 10:33 pm

  5. Breathtaking.

    Comment by Aeshna on October 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm

  6. Oh, thanks! I think these letters are so nice because theyre really heartfelt. Im not really thinking about anyone but V when I write them.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 12, 2010 at 6:51 am

  7. Thank you!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 12, 2010 at 6:52 am

  8. Oh, thats really nice to hear! I have no doubt that your parents love for you is still something massive — I imagine it only grows with time. Cant imagine how Ill feel about V in another 20 years!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 12, 2010 at 6:53 am

  9. Oh, thanks Sophie! And yes, she is SUCH a little girl now! My baby is gone!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 12, 2010 at 6:57 am

  10. Oh, youre totally in that hormonal pregnancy mode! So sweet! And congrats on being just days away! And thank you for all your kind words. Good luck!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 12, 2010 at 7:04 am

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