You turned 37 weeks today. I know that technically we aren’t supposed to start the count until you’re out here with us, but I’ve been feeling your kicks and squirms for months and you’ve never felt more alive. So, to me you’re 37 weeks old. Congratulations. I know how cramped you must be.
I have a few things to apologize for.
First, I’m sorry for abandoning the baby journal. I was doing really well for a while – updating it faithfully every week with little anecdotes and confessions of how pregnancy was treating me at the time. Little memories for you to hold onto in the future. Then your dad and I got married, and moved, and with all of the accompanying craziness, my vigilance fell to the wayside. I was hoping to have a complete account for you to read later on, and while it isn’t too late to fill in what I can, it won’t be the same. So for that, I am sorry.
I think holding onto memories is important. As a matter of fact, my entire generation is pretty good at keeping records. Each and every day, we type our thoughts and fears and dreams into various websites and applications to share with our friends, family, acquaintances – even people we don’t know. We take pictures of ourselves when we’re feeling good, or sad, or mad, and post them so other people can see them. We take pictures with our friends to invite others to share in our joy, even if we know others might not fully understand whatever joke we’re laughing about in the picture. We take pictures of our food, for reasons that are less clear. But does it matter? We are the record keepers, perpetually nostalgic for a past memories that just occurred, unwilling to untether ourselves from our most recent happiness. We breathe reminiscence; we dream future memories. We capture as much as we can in short bursts so that we can dissect and inspect and correct, as best as we can, to be the best we can. And we are unafraid to be angry when what we’ve learned is forgotten, or ignored, and injustice rears its ugly, ugly head.
Today, the country you will one day call your own watched as one of its most enduring legacies, racial hatred, once again resulted in death. The people who were killed could have been your great-aunt, or grandmother, or cousin. They were in church, praying and reading the Bible, while sitting in the presence of their killer. Blindsided. Betrayed. Brutalized. And now they’re gone.
You’re going to learn one day, Peanut, that people hate us because of the color of our skin, and it’s going to seem absolutely ridiculous, but it’s the truth. It’s a lesson that your dad and I are already dreading having to teach you. Because we hate that one day, your world is going to forever be a bit less bright, a bit more menacing. You’re going to be surrounded by shiny toys and exciting technology, the likes of which we can’t even imagine yet. You’re going to be curious and inquisitive and want to poke and explore and play. And on some level, we are going to have to tell you, “Wait, love. Here is what you can’t do. Here is where you can’t go. Here is what you can’t say.” For the sake of your safety, your survival, we will have to steal some of your joy.
And for that, my dear daughter, I apologize.
Know how much your dad and I love you already. We will all be doing this for the first time – our first time being parents, your first time existing. It’s going to be a wild ride, and we may not always understand each other, but we promise to do our best to love you and protect you. A huge part of that love is fear – fear that forces your dad and I cannot control will hurt you in any way.
And so sometimes, as you get older, we may make decisions that seem needlessly harsh, or unfair, or overprotective. And you will resent us, and feel angry and infantilized, which is perfectly valid. But please try to remember that you are perceived as a threat. When you say the pledge of allegiance in school – or choose not to say it, which your father and I would have no problem with – please remember that the flag that is hanging in your classroom is soaked with the blood of your ancestors. Remember the great women and men who fought for freedom for our people, some with peace, and some without, and they met the same violent end regardless. Remember the history your dad and I teach you at home, and recognize when you are being taught a watered down or blatantly false history elsewhere. I want you to remember these things and then remind yourself that there is probably a good reason that mom and dad are so strict. Even if you don’t agree, just remember. And, again, know that I am sorry. I truly wish we had a better world to offer you, because you don’t deserve this one.
I cannot wait to meet you, darling girl. And even as I say that, even as I feel you shift slightly inside me, and our bodies ready themselves to separate in a matter of weeks, a part of me wishes I could keep you safe and cocooned forever. I am beginning to understand a mother’s love, Peanut, and it is exhilarating and heartbreaking.
See you soon,
Editor-at-Large, Carla Bruce