Sunday, September 25, 2016

Charleigh Turns 6

Dear Charleigh,

What a year we had. I started waiting tables twelve days after your fifth birthday, and I had expected Chip to have a terrible time with it, but you were the one. You were the one who wailed and tried to climb my leg and block the door. You were the one who followed me to the minivan and, more than once, chased it out of the driveway. I was surprised; I really hadn't seen it coming. I hadn't fully considered that you might be the one who needs me most.

I write things down so you will have a record of who we were (or who I thought we were), and I want to say to you of this point in our lives that--even if you live in the same house with someone--it can be really hard to identify his or her needs. If you manage to identify them, it can be hard to fulfill them. The more balls you're trying to keep in the air, the harder it all becomes: the identifying, the fulfilling, the juggling.

I know I haven't been perfect or, sometimes, even good. We had a hard year. Your daddy was out of work from July until April. I waited tables full-time until I found a teaching job; then, I worked both jobs for awhile and sometimes every night of the week. Money was stretched tighter than a fitted sheet. There were no extracurriculars, and even the curriculars were a reach. It didn't take long for me to go bare bones with the homeschooling: math, reading. (At six, you're a math whiz, but sometimes I wonder if you'll read Bob Books forever: Mag, have, sled.)

I'm not sure what was going on under those curls and behind those wide eyes when I left for work. I'm not sure what you will remember of last year. I want you to know, though, that I missed you--and especially our bedtime routine--every night I was gone.

Two weeks after your sixth birthday, I quit working outside the home. Already, I've thought a few times that I could use a break!, but you and I are people who need a bedtime story, and we're blessed to have it, again.

Our family was blessed to have survived the year, and we were held absolutely. I pray that, at some point, you will be able to look back over your life and see that you were held, always, even if only by a mama who would not hesitate to snatch you up by the very hair on your head because you tried, in a fit of rage, to run from her in a parking lot.

I love you. I love no one more than I love you. I love your depth, passion, loyalty, and physical strength. I love the promise in your defiance, and while I get frustrated (so frustrated) with you, I hope you will always question everything. I hope you will argue when necessary, run when necessary, and knock the living crap out of someone when necessary. My goal is to help you grasp the "when necessary," and we will get there, as I might be the only person I know with a will stronger than yours.

I am yours. You are mine. We are survivors. Again, I love you.