Letter to Scarlett at Two Years

Dear Scarlett,

You are not Lucy.

I’m sure you know that. You’re a smart kid. But I want you to know I know that. And I don’t want you to be Lucy.

I never want Lucy instead of you. I want you both, but you are never, never second best. Mothering you not only expands my heart, but shines a blinding light through the cracks.

I worry how you will process Lucy’s absence as you grow. What does it mean to you now? Probably not much. Your sister lives in Heaven instead of our house. You have never known otherwise, so why question it?

A few months ago, I began dropping little hints that having Lucy as a sister is different. I told you in simple terms what “dead” means, that the pictures we greet and kiss everyday are just that – pictures.

If you grow into a sensitive child, as I did, this will come to mean a great deal to you. You will feel sad, angry, and cheated. A small part of you might like the attention the story brings your way.

I am almost certain this will all hurt one day, love. You will realize that what is true for your family is not true for all. I am so sorry. I want your sister for you so much. It is so very cruel that you never met.

However, I want your life to be about you. I hope that you will honor your sister’s memory and try to know her. But you are SCARLETT! The most unbelievable blessing. Here are just two of the statements I made about you this past weekend:

“I wish she would just let me kiss her cheeks all day.”

“Can you believe we made something so beautiful?”

So many gifts, dreams, and wishes are bound up in your existence. Your first cry, your first step, your 2nd birthday … all answered and assuaged my cries of pain, anger, and fear.

Max made my dream of becoming a mother come true, Lucy made me the mother of a daughter, but you are so truly my rainbow baby. I have enjoyed you so wholly and completely. Life gave me not just a second chance, but a third, and I’ve poured all the love, hope, happiness, and devotion into you that I possibly can.

You have brought me so much. For the first time, I feel fairly certain I have been a good mother to you so far.

You are sharp and clear and cuddly and ALIVE. You burst with love, confidence, and happiness. I am so excited for you to start school. You will set the world on fire.

Oh, I am just, you are just …. my BABY! I don’t know how to capture this feeling rushing through me. Nothing compares to looking in the face of a child you love. Your face is some special kind of voodoo, little one.

Before I sign off, I will provide some snapshots of two-year-old Scarlett.

You crawl along the walkway from the living room to the kitchen in a mini Boden dress adorned with scenes of London, roaring the word “Roar!” Max commands “Scarlett, roar!” and you happily oblige, triggering laughter every time.

You sitting in your booster seat with it half buckled AFTER you undressed and went to the potty by yourself. Without making a mess!

You learn your first knock-knock joke, a classic. The original goes like this:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Boo who?

Don’t cry, it’s only me.

Your version:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Boo who?


You count to 4 and beyond:

“1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 16”

Your hilarious response to a now-forgotten transgression on Max’s part:

“No, sweetie!”

Your answer to “Who is Scarlett?” Still


And to “Who is Lucy?”


You don’t feel well one day, which slows you down (a little). You sit on the travel potty in the back of our car. I stand guard as usual. My fingers comb tangles until your “Ow” causes them to reluctantly relinquish your silky, golden hair. Then, I smooth your long bangs to either side and kiss your forehead as I cup your cheeks. Unusually, your eyes look straight into mine, rather than eagerly out at birds (“Boids! Boids!”) and red trucks. Your eyes settle on mine with such peace. Their proximity fills my vision with vibrant blue. Despite your stuffy nose and our crazy schedule, you lean into the moment and trust it. For a moment, I do, too.

I love you, my tripping, laughing ball of sunshine.

Love, Mama

Letter to Max at 7 Years

Dear Max,

With every year you live, my feelings for you deepen, while my words to express it do not. How do you describe that feeling when you see your child’s face? Every parent knows it. We can smile knowingly at each other, because we are both in on the grand secret. But I don’t want it to be a secret. I want you to KNOW.

I want you to know that your face is sunshine. When your glasses are off, you still look like little Max. When they are on, I see big Max taking shape. I see your Daddy.

I want you to know that my heart hurts with love for you. When you were young, that love was formless and shapeless. We enjoyed all the time in the world. Hurts, heartbreak, and tough questions all hovered safely in the future. Tomorrow’s problem. But tomorrow has come. In a little over a decade, you will be 18. The time of guiding and letting go bit by bit is upon us.

I don’t want you to know about Hitler, 9/11, terrorists, stranger danger, racism, school shootings, and death. But you do. I didn’t want you to learn at 3 that children can die, but you did.

I am glad that you know how babies are made, that love wins, that black lives matter. I am proud we can have these tough conversations and that you know you can ask me anything. I hope that will continue. I will keep talking to you whether you ask or not, because 2016 has shown us that those conversations are more important than ever and that they must be ongoing. Omitting the bad does not automatically make the present good unfortunately. Spreading a good message once does not automatically counteract a lifetime of bombardment.

We live in a great and terrible time. I feel that all of these horrible tragedies will lead somewhere good. People are realizing this will not go away without action. You are seeing history made.

I want you to be part of that history. I believe your generation is going to do better and be better than any has before. In spite of, or perhaps because of our over-parenting, you will all clean up the mess left by hate and misguided good intentions and move the human race forward TOGETHER.

For now, you are still my little boy, on the cusp of being a big boy. You are bumpy and bony, all elbows and legs, and taller than me when you sit on my lap. But your cheeks retain a remnant of baby roundness. Your smile is still sometimes full of heartbreaking sweetness and innocence. You have fluffy little boy hair that makes me want to postpone each trim as long as I can.

I want you to know that Daddy and I are so proud of the hard work you have put in this past year. The autism diagnosis was a bit hard on you at first. I know you get so tired from ABA, OT, and all the other acronyms. All of this hard work will pay off. It is so much better to do it now, rather than when you are older. YOU HAVE COME SO FAR. You can do anything, kid.

I want you to know that you are still the best big brother ever. Scarlett lights up when she sees you, runs to throw her arms around you, and says, “Hi, Max” before she greets anyone else.

Seven years ago tonight, I received my first inkling that I might finally meet you. Less than 24 hours later, you were in my arms. You made me a mom. You made that dream come true.

I want you to know that no one inspires me to greater heights of silliness and creativity than you. I love that we both love puns and fart jokes. I love that we both love to read and be home with our families.

I want you to know all about life and love, sweet Max. I want to know all about you. Tomorrow, we begin our eighth year on those journeys.

I love you so, so much, with all my heart, soul, and whatever’s left of my brain.


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