Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Lilly

Dear Lilly,

I want you to know how much your mommy loves you. We have had an amazing 4 years, you and I, and I cherish every moment I spend with you.

Since you were born, we’ve figured things out together. I didn’t know how to be a mom, or how to raise a child with quote special needs, but you’ve made the journey both easy and amazing. I didn’t know how to balance work and mommyhood, and you patiently let me figure it out. You knew that my career was important to me, so you became a delight for every college babysitter and every daycare teacher who took care of you. You discovered the joy of reading the law books that I publish, while I worked next to you, and you diligently turned every page looking for edits that you could make yourself. You got used to me being on the phone with my editor at all hours of the day – on walks, in the car – and sometimes at the playground or at the airport you take out your “pretend phone” and make a call about something important as well. During our time in Charlottesville, you got used to walking around my office building, and charmed all of my co-workers, sometimes walking into offices, shutting the door, and having your own one-on-one meeting with a colleague. And when work has demanded more time, you’ve graciously accompanied your daddy to every playground, movie, Broadway play, and zoo on weekends in an effort to accommodate my busy schedule.

This move to NYC hasn’t worked out the way I had anticipated, but you’ve accommodated the challenges with your typical passion for life. As we left your original preschool, you were excited about spending more time with your cousins and grandparents. You convinced us to extend a weekend at Disney World to a week, and enjoyed every ride-filled and princess-focused minute. As the balance during this time between work and family has become more of a challenge, you have shown me what is important; you’ve charmingly but firmly demanded my time when it’s been more limited, and we have made the most of an unexpected situation. In the 6 weeks since you were last in school, you have learned more than in the past year of school. I’ve watched your confidence build, and your funny little personality flourish.

And yet, it’s been somewhat of a juggling act and will continue to be. Your new school that you start on Monday is only 5 hours a day, and I’ll be walking 6 miles a day to get you there and back. For the past few weeks it’s been such a struggle for me as I rush you through your nighttime routine of bath and bedtime, saying to you: “Hurry up Lilly, go to bed, Mommy has to work tonite.” And I think of the past 4 years, and how my job has become increasingly time-consuming: emails 24/7, early morning meetings, brainstorming new ideas at all hours of the day, and working overtime on nights and weekends to get the work done. I truly love what I do, but something has got to give. When it comes down to it, being there for you and for our family is my most important priority.

I want to be your good mommy. I don’t want to rush you off for the purposes of getting more work done. I don’t want to be thinking of the 38 things I have to get done and diminish our quality time. I don’t want to be stressed and take it out on you.

I want to cheerfully bring you to your new school every day and pick you up. I want to have a healthy lunch ready for you in the morning so that you’re happy when you eat at school. I want to bring you to the playground after school, or to the museum, and take you for long walks. I want to take the time to explain things to you, to reason with you, to teach you and to spoil you with love and attention. I want to cook dinner and teach you to set the table, and have you not hear every night: “What should we order for dinner?” I want to be a good wife to your daddy, and be someone who is relaxed and in control. Your daddy works so hard, and I want the house to be a clean happy place for him to come home to.

I don’t want my career to be over, I have worked long and hard to get my law degree, pass the bar, and develop a strong work ethic in my job over the past 5 years. I want to show you that people, women, really can have it all. But sometimes we have to make decisions that are best for the family. For the next 9 months that we are in New York, I would love to just focus on my family. After all, you are only 4 years old once, and I no longer want to brush you aside for work.

Lilly, I want you to be proud of me, no matter what I do, just as I am proud of you. Together we can develop our dreams and accomplish whatever we want. I know in many ways not-working is going to be harder than working; it will be a shift in priorities to say “No Elmo today, we are going outside to find Fall leaves at the playground.” Maybe I can even teach you how to read. And that cooking thing… I haven’t done it regularly in years, but I think I remember how. Maybe we can even make a deal that each night you *try* a new food, even if you decide you don’t like it. I don’t know, we’ll see how things go. We’ll have the time to see how things work out.

And when we leave NY in June, we’ll reevaluate. We’ll see what city Daddy brings us to next, and hopefully there will be wonderful opportunities for all three of us. I just want you to know that I love you so much, and I hope you don’t get too sick of me being a full-time mom for a little while. I promise, at times, to give you your much-needed space so that your confidence grows.

With love,

Your mommy.


Anonymous said...

Kathleen, this brought tears to my eyes. But they are tears of joy! I think your decision is one that is to be commended. Making your family your first priority is a very difficult thing to do in today's demanding world. You've chosen to do what many of us want to do but haven't figured out a way yet. You are an amazing woman with an amazingly supportive family and I have no doubt that you will continue to be blessed. I wish you, John, and Lilly all the best as you take on your new position, full-time mommy. With your continued dedication and passion to succeed, you'll be President of your company in no time!!
With love and admiration,

Angi said...

You are a good mommy and Lilly is a lucky girl, you write from the heart and it's a good one:-) I work full time as well and don't know what I would/could do in your shoes...I have had to take a week off here or there on short notice and my work days get crammed into a much shorter day, I sometimes yell, don't cook and rush bedtime when I shouldn't...we all do our best...

Lil'Sis said...

I'm so excited for you on this new adventure, I'm so jealous too I won't lie, but mostly I'm just so happy that you all can make it work in the short term knowing the reward for you, Lulu and John will be so tremendous.

Always in my prayers!