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Dear Juliette: Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Dear Juliette,

You are nine months old now. You have officially lived outside of my body, just as long as you were inside of it.

There’s something about this nine month mark. I felt it with your sister too. There’s an independence that comes with it, an attachment that is less to me, and more to the world around you. You are here and you are part of it all, and this is something you have begun to grasp.

I already can’t quite remember a time when you weren’t part of my life. I mean, of course I can remember all those 33 years before you arrived, but what I mean is that I can’t imagine not knowing you. I can’t imagine not being your mama, not being a guide for your sweet little soul.

And Juliette? You are sweet. So incredibly sweet. You are a happy little thing. You laugh all the time, even when you’re uncomfortable. You just laugh. You are watchful and you are quick to smile. I’ve seen you look around a room, just waiting to catch someone’s eye so that the moment you do, you can give them one of your quiet little smiles.

Life has been complicated at home lately, your dad and I trying hard to figure out our careers and finances and the future. Things seem uncertain much of the time and sometimes the stress of it all makes me feel like I can’t breathe. But then I look at you and your sister and I find myself able to take another breath.

We could be anywhere, on an airplane, in our living room, in the car in the morning on the way to take Vera to school, and the two of you are looking at each other. Vera is making some weird face, with an even weirder noise to go along with it, and your eyes are on hers, riveted by whatever she is doing, a small smile edging across your lips. And I realize that no matter how sticky or stressful life may be, as long as it’s not that way for you or Vera, then everything will be okay.

That’s what parents do, I suppose. They shield us from the worries of the world, for as long as they can. And that’s why we, as adults, often bemoan how hard it is to be a grown-up. And it is hard. Oh, how I wish I could go back to being a kid, or even a teenager, when my biggest worries were what to wear to school, what boy to like, and which quiz not to study for. I mean, of course it all felt bigger than that at the time, but looking back? Those seem like simple things.

Life is big, my sweet girl. It’s bigger and longer and messier and more wonderful than you or I even really know. But here’s the thing. It’s also what you want it to be. Life is the story you tell yourself it is. It’s the dream you choose to believe is real. It’s the path you thought you shouldn’t take, but then did. It’s the heart, so full of love you’re blinded by it.

It’s you.

And me.

And everything that is to come.

Love,

Mom

photo-170

13 Comments

  1. Oh Claire, I am so in touch with the emotion that went into writing this post – and the feelings you express. In fact, my own little guy just reached the nine-month mark, and I wrote my own little letter to him recently, if you’re interested in reading it:

    http://whataboutsara.com/longer-in-our-world-than-in-mamas-belly/

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart with your readers.

    Comment by Sara on March 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm

  2. “That’s what parents do, I suppose. They shield us from the worries of the world, for as long as they can.”
    That wasn’t my style with my two daughters. I support giving them a little magic, and a lot of imagination, but think they can handle some simplified reality from a surprisingly early age. Otherwise you risk not participating in that part of their education in this information rich world. I don’t think you want their sources of information to be the internet, peers or toilet graffiti. I totally agree not to dump stuff on them.
    My rule of thumb was, ‘if they are old enough to mention an issue, they are old enough to get a frank reply’. Any issue.

    Comment by Paul Tredgett on March 20, 2013 at 6:44 am

  3. Every time I read one of your blogs the emotion just over comes me. Our situations are very similar with two children and their ages. When I read something like this, I can’t help but feel the same way about my two. Your words are so relatable.

    Thank you for sharing. It truly is a joy to read your work.

    Comment by Meghan Horan on March 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

  4. Claire,

    I am reading your book now, about 100 pages to go, and your writing is beautiful. I thought about your older daughter, Vera – wanting to live in NYC & become a writer? next time you are here, maybe you should take her to this place below! (:

    Congrats on the 9 months, your girls are beautiful and so loved.

    Aspiring Authors:

    Scribble Press
    1624 First Ave., nr. 85th St.; 212-288-2928

    After shuttering its Upper West Side and L.A. branches last year, this make-your-own-book studio significantly expanded its flagship space and programming. Children 4 and older can drop in to write and illustrate their own tomes, which are then professionally bound, or design calendars, journals, and puzzles. Most projects are in the $10 to $29 range.

    Comment by Sarah D'Imperio on March 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

  5. Oh, lovely. Happy, happy birthday to Juliette and to you!! xox

    Comment by Lindsey on March 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

  6. A lovely tribute–making me ache to hold a 9-month-old again. Sigh. Such beautiful sentiments for your daughter.

    Comment by denise on March 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  7. Beautiful love letter. That whole sibling love thing is just breathtaking, isn’t it? And I don’t know if it ever stops being hard to be the grown-up, but it definitely gets easier, if that makes sense?

    Comment by Lisa Lilienthal on March 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

  8. Claire, you say parents shield kids from worries. I agree and also believe that kids shield their parents, the grown-ups. They are the natural emotional cushion nature has provided parents. I have yet to meet a parent who hasn’t forgotten his/her worries, albeit momentarily, and smiled at the sight of his/her children.
    As usual, loved the letter.

    Comment by Kavita on March 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

  9. Oh, Claire, the love letters you write to people in your life are so raw and real. Thank you thank you for sharing them with us. I am not a mom yet, and yet, I get it. Not in the way that a mom ‘gets it’, but I know the moms of the world do, and I know they are grateful for your courage to share. And one day Vera and Juliette will be so touched to read these love letters. In the meantime, they are so blessed to have you as their mom and role model.

    Comment by Melissa on March 21, 2013 at 8:06 am

  10. Beautifully said. We are on the brink of some major career/life/location changes and the stress has been incredible. But our motivations are pure and we’re working hard to make it a positive experience – at least for our son, if nothing else. It’s hard to be the grown up, but also such a privilege to be the one with the responsibility of protecting Ryan from the craziness.

    Comment by Meg {Phase Three of Life} on March 21, 2013 at 9:19 am

  11. oh my goodness. the sweetest. from the lovely pic of you all fancy on your (recent & certainly more to come) big night to the sister love you talk of. nine months was the greatest babe age of all our babes. but most of all, ‘life is the story you tell yourself it is.’ lucky little lady to have you as her mama..

    Comment by Baby by the Sea on March 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm

  12. love this. I, also, made the same note of the 9 months in 9 months out marks with my two boys. just finished your book, like 10 minutes ago. will be passing it along to my best friend. and sending you much love and admiration out into the environments. thank you for sharing your words, so skillfully pt together words.

    Comment by nicolette on April 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

  13. Beautifully said… and such a treasure for Juliette to hold onto someday!!!! Beautiful…!! {sniff sniff}

    Comment by Cher Renke on May 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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