Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine Letter

I wrote this letter 5 years ago when Annika was two. I received an email this morning about Valentine's Day and I was inspired to look for this. Reading this after 5 years, I was moved. (Hope you will be too!)


A Valentine Letter

Dear Annika,

You’ve changed the meaning of Valentine’s Day for us. I always hated Valentine’s Day. In college, I wore black to protest the ridiculous “holiday.” When I was single, the pretensions annoyed me. When I got married, I was still annoyed. We love each other and we express it throughout the year. Thanks, but no thanks, Hallmark. We’ll celebrate at our own time and when we know we can get dinner reservations. However, when the doctor said labor needed to be induced and the nurse asked me if I wanted to come Tuesday or Wednesday, I thought about it and said “Wednesday, Valentine’s Day.”

Now, every heart I see reminds me of you. I want to shower you with red roses and red poofy skirts like you love. I see you pounce into the room, and I see a fiercely independent little girl with wild curls. However, when you cry in your sleep or in those famous tantrums of a two-year-old, I see my little bird that I brought home. You were so tiny and delicate, and your mouth was constantly in an open wail, ready to be fed.

Who are you, little one? I wanted to ask you when the nurse brought you in the next morning. Are you really mine? I started crying because I couldn’t believe you were here. I embraced you and could not keep from staring. My little bird stared back at me with equal intensity. Normally, your black eyes darted around the room. When I held you, our gazes locked, each of us trying to memorize the new face. “So you were the one!” our eyes said.

Every story I read in my parenting magazines said the mother “knew” right away how perfect it was. I felt empty. I wasn’t sure if this was right. You had your father’s nose, but rosy cheeks and puffy eyes. I don’t have rosy cheeks or puffy eyes. You did not look like the baby I thought I would have. Your grandfather said he was nonchalant until he saw you and he fell in love. I felt confused.

When we went home on Friday, we played “The Carpenters Greatest Hits” for lullabies, and it was like magic. You fell asleep immediately. I felt Karen Carpenter was singing to us: “Look at the two of us, strangers in many ways. We have a lifetime to much to say, and as we go from day to day, I feel you close to me, but time alone will tell.”

It was in the wee hours of the morning that I felt our true bonding experience occur. I was nursing in bed and caressing your sleek, dark hair. The house was quiet. I felt like the whole world was asleep, but the two of us. Since you looked like your father, I felt a wave recognition and love. You did belong to us. And, that was it.

That song seems foreign to me now. We are no longer strangers, but a family connected. You’ve wrapped yourself around your father’s heart and of course, he and I are both different people now. We know a new meaning of love on Valentine’s Day.

My heart, you are always in my thoughts,

P.S. Please hold onto this letter. I know in ten years, I will be an embarrassment to you because you will already know everything. Humor me and hang onto to it for twenty when it may mean more.


ZenDenizen said...

I love letters to the future!

Anonymous said...

February 14, 2001 was the day we all received our permanent little Valentine.


Unknown said...

Ashini, I read this for the first time tonite and I'm sitting here crying my eyes out. I miss my mother and your words reminded me of her. When my father didn't come to see her at the hospital because she had a baby girl she didn't care. She told me she always knew when she looked at my face as a baby that I was going to be someone some day and she was so proud to have me. I miss her so much.

It's funny because some days I believe my mother comes to me thru Himanshu. He was fast asleep sick from the flu in bed. I'm all the way in the living room reading this and crying quietly and he heard me in his sleep and came over to comfort me. How did he know? My mother was like that. She always knew.

Thanx for sharing this. In 20 years when she reads this it's going to mean so much to her. I know it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments! I was nervous about posting this b/c it's personal..but I had composed this as a submission for something else. So, I figured I'd plan to go public with this ;-)

Rupa - never underestimate the power of mothers!!

Anonymous said...

Even lovelier the second time around ... Thanks for sharing your "heart" with us in valentines day.