Recently, my husband and I welcomed our third daughter, Sailor. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be pregnant—and even more excited to have another girl! (One day I’ll write a blog post about people who say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry you didn’t get your boy!’)
My pregnancy wasn’t easy. I was sick, renovating a house, had a new job, and had abnormal test results early on. I saw a specialist my entire pregnancy, and we weren’t sure Sailor would be completely healthy until she was born.
But she was! She was perfect!
There’s so much I want to share about the weeks leading up to and following Sailor’s birth, but for now I’ll just say that after she was born, I experienced anxiety on levels that I had never experienced.
Cue the point of this blog: If you’ve read anything I’ve written about our second daughter, Ezzy, you know that while she’s 1/3 of our children, she’s always required 2/3 of our attention.
Homegirl is sky high maintenance.
But she’s also incredibly special. Recently, she taught me a lesson so powerful, I had to write about it.
One thing I did after I had each of my children was to create email addresses for them. I send them random emails and pictures periodically, and plan to give them access to their accounts at some point when they’re older. (Please don’t be impressed by this practice. This is the lazy parent’s version of scrapbooking.)
Here’s the email I sent Ezzy. I hope it encourages you, if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression—or just the day-to-day demands of parenting that can be so tough.
Hey, sweet girl. I wanted to tell you about something incredible that happened today.
You won your first ever spelling bee! You’re only in pre-k! My little genius!
But the part I’m most proud of, is that you were TERRIFIED to do it. You didn’t want to. You were anxious all night. And this morning you even cried about it. I told you that you didn’t have to do it. Every kid had a choice. But you said, “I wanna twy.”
(You still can’t pronounce your “Rs” – and I honestly hope you never do. Okay. Maybe when you’re like, 10. But until then …)
I won’t lie – I was nervous. We had practiced the night before, and when I asked you to spell ‘cat,’ you looked at me like I was speaking Latin.
But Ezzy, you were so brave. I watched in complete awe (and nausea) as you made it through 6 long rounds. You walked up to that microphone with your side ponytail, your high-tops, and school uniform, and you spelled each word carefully and thoughtfully like you’d been doing spelling bees your whole dang life.
You are amazing. I learn from you every day. Today I learned that you can win, even when you’re terrified.
But more importantly, I learned that failure is not nearly as scary as not trying.
There’s another thing.
I also wanted you to know what today did for me. (Selfishly.) You see, Mama has been going through a really hard time. The only way to describe it is to say that every second of every day feels like a chore. It feels like being the only person on a ship lost at sea. It feels like every step you take is uphill. One day, I’ll tell you more about it.
When you won that spelling bee today, it was one of the first purely joyful moments I’ve had in a while. It was like stepping into the sunshine after being in the shade far too long.
Thank you for trying even when you were scared. If you can try when you’re terrified, so can I. And I will try every day because of you – because staying anxious and worried and tired is a far scarier prospect than trying to fight for joy.
I learned that from you.
And please, please, please, never lose the courage to ‘twy.’
So, parents. What are you struggling to try? Trying to …
Let your kids grow up?
Take care of yourself?
Lower your expectations?
If failure is not nearly as scary as not trying, what can you try to do today?