18

Dear Sidney,

So, it’s here,

adulthood at your doorstep.

18 years feels like freedom but really, it’s gravity.

Grounded in a place and time that are of your choosing.

These years are yours.

You’ve earned the right to be here.

Your sound judgement,

your openness to change,

your willingness to sit in the hard stuff, knowing that growth always comes after the heartache;

you should be trusted with this time and place.

At 18, I wasn’t half the women you are today.

I found pleasure in the yes. The more I made others happy the more I thought I would find myself.

In fact, it was the opposite.

I lost myself in the yearning to be everything to everyone.

That is not your path.

You’ve found freedom in being uniquely you.

These will be some of the most profoundly moving years of life, so if you don’t mind, let me offer some wisdom you probably don’t need but I am aching to supply.

Remember nothing good happens after 2 a.m., but all ills can be cured with a greasy breakfast and a cup of peppermint tea.

Skip class.

No, really, skip class.

On those spring days when the rain clouds finally part and the world is on fire with the promise of summer, leave the books behind, grab your hammock and spend a day in Schenley Park soaking in the magic of the moment.

Stay open to the viewpoints of others and stand ready to acknowledge that life is not black and white, grey is the best place to find a home.

Remember that there is an army of people who believe in you. You are not beholden to them,

yet they stand ready to support you with Ramon noodles, Dunkin runs and unconditional love.

Take heart my love that when I see you, I see the best of this world. While some may break your heart your goodness will endure. You will leave this world a better place.

Thank you for the gift of these 18 years.

The opportunity to stand beside you and watch the remarkable journey of my heart walking outside my body is the greatest joy of my life.

I love you more the words can say.

Happiest of birthday’s my beautiful girl.

Love,

Your one and only Momma

P.S.-

I’ve been waiting to use this one….

Crowded Table

To become a mom for the seventh time at 44, even if it’s planned, feels unexpected.

Bright eyed, pink and screaming he entered our world on an April evening.

It was 24 hours in when I had decided I loved him completley.

Accustomed to children entering my world in a non biological way yet still astonished when he took me in so quickly.

Loving him came so easily.

The difference in parenting this time was the lack of control.

I had no say in what tomorrow held.

My desires were absent.

All I could do was rest in the moment, love him without forward thought.

And he wove his way into the fabric of our family.

His smiles, that touch.

The way the instant he felt fresh air on his face his body relaxed.

As each day passed his presence became more entwined with ours.

Today I would give anything to be with him, yet ninety days after our first embrace he is with another.

The pain is deep and the journey from here to there feels wide.

I still don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Yet I know his name has carved a place on my heart.

Graduation

Dear Sidney,

It’s taken me nearly two months to write these words. Today, as we shop for dorm room supplies, sendoff college deposits and await the much-anticipated roommate assignment, it feels as if this is finally happening. 18 years come and gone; in a hot second you will be at the doorstep of adult life.

Listening to you deliver your address on commencement day, my heart leapt from its chest. How could this articulate, stunning young women be the same girl I watched toddle around the kitchen? The one with the blonde pigtails and megawatt smile now sharing her knowledge with her universe.

Here is what I know, from your first breath your love changed me and now it will change the world.

You have always been the child who charted her own course. The one who needed little guidance because instinctually she knew right from the wrong.

And now the greater community gets to witness your goodness.

Don’t hesitate for one moment to open your heart and live life out loud.

I’ll l be honest, I hurt to think of you more than a few miles from my arms, but I know this is what you were always meant to do.

Sidney Reagan I am so proud of the person you have become. You bring the light to this world.

Go and give the world your full self and know I will be here holding you close, ready for the chance to cheer you own from the nosebleed section.

Love you forever and always,

Your one and only Momma

Audrey-15

January 12, 2022

Dear Audrey,

14 was the hardest of years. Changes in school left you unsure of your place on the planet.

You led with your heart and learned that others do not.

You also came to understand that joy and sorrow can coexist

As we turn the page to 15, I see a young woman surer of herself; the bright spot in all of our days.

I couldn’t be prouder of the friends you have chosen, the activities you picked and the love you bring to every person you encounter.

You are spectacular.

Be confident in the choices you are making. We all see your sound judgement.

Don’t be afraid to continue to step outside and explore this great big world of possibilities.

I will be here. And whether it’s a whisper or a roar may you always hear my voice in the background reminding you how deeply you are loved.

You my darling are the magic in these days. Thank you for letting me walk with you.

All my love, always and forever.

Your one and only Momma

PS- We both know Pink said it best.

Four

The screeching tonight at dinner had us all kinds of overloaded.

So many words from so many beautiful faces.

Attempting to follow the rollercoaster of feelings each one was emoting,

in that moment you looked at me and said “four years ago tonight if we had known…”

No truer words spoken.

If we had known of all the growing to take place, would we have stood in front of the alter arms outstretched?

If it had been foretold, the broken nights, the feeling of the free fall, would we have danced until our feet swelled?

Yes.

I didn’t want to wander any longer. I had found my home in your arms.

And so here we are.

The tears, the laughter, the noise, four years in and still making sense of how to navigate these roads.

Your love has brought me closer to who I am meant to be.

I am bolder. I am humbler.

I have emerged from a deep, dark valley and with your help found a way back to my soul.

I wouldn’t trade a second of these last 35,040 hours.

The next year will mark more transitions but this I know- with your love, your guiding light, home will feel brighter and my life lighter.

Thank you for your yes.

It was always you.

All my love,

H

PS- What more could be said then this?

11

September 24, 2021

Dear Ellery Jane,

No one could have readied me for the role of your Momma. While you may have been the last of the babies born from my body, you are a force singularly unique. A child that requires me to live life fully awake.

At any moment you may ask me to describe how clouds are made or why God let’s bad things happen to good people and bad people to have good things.

I am grateful for your questions. They stretch me and everyone in our orbit.

I am so proud of how you wear both your hurt and your happiness. You let us see it and in so doing give each of us permission to do the same.

From the time you started preschool your teachers have been consistent in their comments-

“She is a leader.”

“She sees everyone and seeks to make them feel included.”

“She is a helper.”

This past year I have watched you become even more of the person God is calling you to be.

You’ve dug deep, made new friends and found a new sport.

I couldn’t be prouder of the person you are.

Thank you for your jokes, your impersonations, your stories, your thought provoking questions and for your pursuit of what is right and true.

I cannot wait to see what this year holds for you.

All my love,

always and forever,

Your Momma

PS- This year’s song says it all…..

17

Dear Sidney Reagan,

Where to start? Probably with the minute that cry turned me toward motherhood.

In the operating room, questioning the anesthesiologist, “Whose baby is that?”.

The answer, you were mine.

The early days, us figuring each other out. Your spirited determination to do everything sooner, faster.

First roll, first words, first walk, all ahead of schedule.

I would crawl a hundred miles if it meant I could relive those moments.

But, as you have always done, you push me past my comfort zone, into new spaces.

Today I parent a person on the edge of independence.

As a young adult I would get embarrassed when Papi told strangers about my accomplishments- the Giant Eagle clerk about my Junior Miss title, the Starbucks barista about the college scholarships. If he were alive today I have no doubt he would utilize Facebook more like a brag book.

I thought he bragged because he felt my work was an extension of his work. I understand now he spoke those words because he stood in wonder.

I feel the same way.

I am in awe of the young women you have become, of all you have done and all you desire.

I see a women whose confident, strong, stable, inquisitive, loving, thoughtful and purposeful in the pursuit of what sets her soul on fire.

Please know my love for you was never, could never, be contingent on what you have or will accomplish.

I am more interested in telling anyone who will listen about your grades, your golf score and your Glinda rides because it speaks of a Sidney who works hard, tries new things, challenges herself.

Oh this next year will be full, soak in its magic.

Be proud of the friends you’ve made and the life you are living out.

Happiest of birthdays my beautiful girl.

I’m so glad God made you mine seventeen years ago today.

Love,

Your Momma

P.S. – I hope you know that joy and pain each need their time to shine….

Knowing

This I know;

the hard days lead to the good,

the showing up is more important then the speaking,

a life lived well is a life where love alters others.

In our small space she was all of the above, all that I knew.

Her presence punctuated the good and right.

The cards on birthdays, the special events she didn’t miss-

she showed up, for decades.

And now her time here with me has ended.

I think of the love story she gave.

The husband, my uncle, whose devotion taught-

this is the sacrament of matrimony.

Grateful for the gift of her life.

And in this I know, for all my life, her love informed.

Until our tomorrows meet, I will remember the gifts you gave.

Father’s Day

He grounded me in place and time.

I always thinking of next and him always believing in now.

This past month threw me for a loop yet in it I heard his voice.

“Think less of tomorrow and more of today”, he whispered.

So I sat in the questions and resolutely refused to ponder what future days could hold.

Instead of the what if game, I day dreamed – could I not see the sun’s rays better when basking in its glory?

Nothing ever turns out like one thinks so why sit in potential sorrow.

My worried soul needed his words and they found me.

I was ok.

A bit battered, yet set free by the turning inward.

Gifts are passed in the genetic make up,

tiny cells reappearing for future generations benefit.

He taught me to be alright and I was.

Today I am here.

Calling

I interviewed him once for my Girl Scout God and Country badge.

I asked him about his faith journey and what brought him to the pulpit.

He told me a story of being a college student in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and walking in the woods.

The young man who had grown up in the city of Philadelphia with it’s noise and bustle, thousands of miles from home, finding clarity in the stillness of the trees.

My nine year old mind imagined there was snow and a booming voice from God asking him to head to the seminary.

In reality I’m sure it was a quiet whisper that guided him to Gettysburg.

Turns out his story chased me here. The little girl that heard his words sought her own calling.

I found it in the stillness. When all else was stripped away it came by whisper.

When he spoke of a longing of the heart, he spoke of me here.