Ellery Jane at 9

September 24, 2019

Dear Ellery Jane,

It seems as if nine is upon us.

As I sit, caught off guard by the passage of time, I think about the beautiful girl you are becoming.

Day turning into day, finding myself wishing I had hit record on the thoughtful words you fill our hours with. Today you inquired as to when I thought we had become so close? When had you and I developed this bond? I told you of how we were knitted together before God placed you in my belly.

You my darling child are bold. You are strong. You are a leader.

You are persistent and you are just as much grit as you are grace.

I am most excited to see where these next years take you.

I have now doubt you could become a teacher or an astronaut or our President.

Do me a favor will you? Keep talking to me. Keep telling me where you hide the hurts.

I promise to keep loving on you. I’ll make sure to make those silly faces at school drop off and always hold my arms wide open when I pick you up each afternoon.

Don’t stop dancing and dreaming and doing everything that makes you uniquely Ellery Jane.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your one and only Momma

PS – We’re going to be alright, odds are.

 

 

 

 

Recovering

Dear Dad,

I wish I had thanked you for the butterscotch candies on the desk;

the dance parties (the ones where my feet on top of yours made indentations in the living room carpet);

the long car rides ending with ice cream in a baseball cap;

for the nights spent in the garage checking tire pressure and oil levels;

for conversations over cups of coffee and

for that time when we fought and you apologized by returning home from Kmart with a pair of black boots that made me feel like Debbie Gibson.

I wish I had thanked you for your belief in the beauty of that permed and pimpley faced eleven year old.

I know there were hard years.

Times in the blue chair when you wondered why your opinion once important now meant so little. Days when you wished a few laps around the high school track, your girl keeping pace, could bridge the divide.

Thank you for never waivering.

Your confidence would bring you through the dry spell until once again your words held weight.

I found you in the birth of my daughters.

Your smile in Audrey. Your hard-headedness in Sid.

I wish I could thank you for helping me to navigate those first sleepless night,

for the phone calls,

the long runs,

the days at the beach while I rested tired eyes and you wrangled little girls.

If you were here now I’d thank you for Ellery Jane. Her tough exterior, booming voice and tender heart is the physical reminder of your presence.

The places I found solace after you left us; your library and it’s books with your handwritten notations in the margins, they provided great comfort. I wish I could thank you for guiding me back to God.

Recovering from your loss is what brought me here.

Your death informed.

I want to thank you for Matt and Sydney and Molly and Zoey, for this life that longs to live in service to others.

Thank you for those thirty years of loving me on earth and the twelve spent guiding from above.

I hope I make you proud.

Forever your girl,

Heather Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Dear Sidney,

Fifteen years come and gone. 5,475 days passed in the blink of an eye.

Then 7lbs 12 oz and all leg,

today 5’11 inches of grit and grace.

Here is what I want you to know as you sit on the threshold of independence.

Take time to smile at strangers.

Get mad when you meet indifference.

If it feels wrong, don’t do it.

Wear your poker face only when playing poker.

When you don’t want to pray, that’s the exact moment your knees should meet the floor.

Listen to your Momma when she asks you to make your bed, but ignore her when she tells you to stop stealing chocolate chips from the pantry. Oh and always say yes to the chocolate shake. Life’s to short not to indulge your sweet tooth.

Remember your roots, carry on tradition. Us Dahlberg’s can parallel park like no one’s business. We expect nothing less from you as well (Uncle David’s example does allow you to fail the drivers test twice before passing as long as your parking game is on point).

You are strong, capable, loving, intuitive, smart as a whip and better than any darn daughter I could have dreamed up.

You have all the tools, now refine the skills.

I am so grateful for the gift of being your Momma.

Happiest of Birthday my darling girl.

Keep dreaming big.  I’m here to dream with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

Your one and only Momma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question

The question asked.

“Are they all yours?”

We were in line waiting to use the restroom.

My smile and head nod, not enough of an answer for her.

“Were you trying for a boy?”

Thankful the stall door opened and my no” could end the conversation.

The truth is the story of our family cannot be shared in three second sound bites.

The girls know that. They don’t discuss details with curious strangers.

If asked they tell of their five sisters.

Yes there are six of them, no twins.

They often throw in a line about how the dog is a girl too.

It doesn’t matter they didn’t all come from one womb. They are woven together.

In those brief interactions with others, I struggle with the desire to summerize all that is our family.

Yet, these fierce, loyal, loving young ladies have come to understand what is taking their Momma year’s to accept -nothing needs explained.

Next time maybe I need not wish the inquiry away.

Joy in the knowledge that my daughters know what family is.

Sydney at 12

Dear Sydney,

I wish you were reading this on your birthday!

With the busyness of April and May, the days slipped away and almost a full month later you finally get to read my birthday mushiness. I’m sorry for the lateness kiddo. I promise I will do better next year.

You’re simply the best bonus daughter a step-momma could ask for.

Loving, kind, patient, hardworking, dedicated, funny and pretty darn smart.

Being a part of this loud, opinionated family can certainly challenge one’s patience yet your  approach is always level-headed.

The back and forth between homes with it’s changing rules and shifting boundries could be a struggle for anyone and you navigate it all with an unending reserve of grace.

Your ability to embrace my extended family has left me teary eyed. 

I am easily filled with hope for our tribe of eight when you are around.

Thank you Sydney Rae for allowing me to play a small role in your life.

I’m always here should you need a Starbucks run or a dance party in the kitchen.

Happiest of birthday’s my love!

H

 

PS-

This may just be the most perfect birthday song ever. I hope you get what I am saying with this pick.

 

 

 

 

Audrey at 12

Dear Audrey Hope,

You are bold. You are brave. You are incredibly beautiful.

You tell stories, weaving words together and turning the mundane into magic.

When people come into your presence, they most immediately feel loved.

And that smile! It simply lights up our lives.This birthday feels different, a bit of nostalgia mixed in with the moment. The threshold of the teenage years crossed, earning more of your independence with each passing day.I want to keep you close, to protect you from the ugly this world can throw. But, in doing so, it would also hold you back from the joy that comes after the ache.

I am so very proud of you.

I know you will make good decisions.

Never doubt how much you are loved and how uniquely and wonderfully made you are.

I believe in you.

Love,

Momma

P.S.- This years birthday song says it better than I ever could

 

 

 

 

Molly’s 10th

Dear Molly girl,

Boy, do I love you!

I love your spunk.

I love the sunshine you bring to every room you enter.

I love your thoughtfulness and the way you examine our faces for reactions.

I love your crazy bursts of energy and your appreciation for a good, salty snack.

Mostly though I love all of the million and one little things that make you the best Molly I’ve ever known.

You’ve had one pretty big year.

You’ve moved twice and you’ve added three sisters, the best dog ever and a stepmom to the mix. That’s a heck of a lot of change, but you have managed it with such sweetness!

Thank you Molly for letting me be a part of your year. I’m so excited to see what 10 has in store for you!

Never forget how awesome I think you are.

I love you to the moon and back.

Heather

P.S.- Here’s your first ever birthday song. It pretty much says it all.

 

 

Anniversary

It’s not a fairytale.

It’s dirty socks found on kitchen chairs, next to toilets and in the dog’s cage.

It’s six lunches needing packed.

It’s scooters left out behind parked cars and its cold showers.

It’s the sounds of little girl’s laughter creeping through closed doors well after bedtime.

It’s tears by the tub-full and grace upon grace.

It’s “I love you” spoken when least expected.

It’s the desire of a man and a woman to live out this vocation with sometimes painful honesty which means it’s acceptance that what was broken can’t be made whole again.

It’s the understanding that no amount of family meetings or vacations can bring back what six girls lost when their biological parents parted ways. But, it is the belief, that while not perfect, not a fairytale, it is a home.

 

 

 

 

 

8

Dear Ellery Jane,

It started here.

You as the exclamation point at the end of my sentence.

Full of sass from the start.

Never one to shy away from your feelings you brought me to my transparency.

How have these years gone so swiftly by?

I can hardly breathe thinking of the moments that have made up these days.

My how well you have lived my girl.

Continue to be bold dear child.

Hold fast to your compass, your God.

Let me push you when it is necessary.

The days ahead will include moments of you doing the same for me.

Blessing upon blessing.

I can’t possibly put into words the joy it is to be your Momma, so instead this year I will let the pictures speak the words I cannot.

I’m here sweet, beautiful, sensitive, soulful girl.

We will dance together in the morning and I will watch you twirl your way into a new year.

Happy eight.

It only gets better from here.

I love you to the moon and back,

Momma

P.S. It couldn’t have been anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

Dear Sidney,

So it seems fourteen is upon us. I now must acknowledge that you are without a doubt a teenager.

Welcome to these next four years full of discovery.

Days that will fly bye in such a way that at some point, way off in the future, you’ll look back on this time and wish you hadn’t rushed it so.

Pause here my love.

Enjoy the air turning from summer to fall and the field hockey games that will puncture its night sky.

Sit in the rocking chairs on the porch laughing until you cry.

Allow your mom to take you out on dates.

Go a whole week with letting the suns glow be the only make up that touches your face.

Remember the way it feels to walk in the door after a long day of school and practice and drop that heavy backpack on the floor. That’s the weight of the world falling away my sweet girl.

At fourteen you carry yourself with more grace than women two times your age.

You are resilient.

You are tough.

You are dependable.

You are honest.

You are without a doubt the best thing that came of my first 26 years on this earth.

Thank you for allowing me to grow this year and for forgiving me time and time again.

It is such a privilege to be your Momma.

I love you Sidney Reagan.

Happiest of birthday’s.

Momma

PS- no sap only upbeat for this year’s song