The First Letter to My Daughters


There’s a small framed photograph in the hallway outside the downstairs bathroom, just above the thermostat.

From the wood paneling in the background, I’m pretty sure it was snapped in the late eighties in our apartment in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where my dad finished up his BA at Messiah College. This one is a color copy of the original, slightly grainy and dark. In the image, my great-grandmother is flanked by my mom and my grandma, and my brother and I are standing in front of them. Four generations of women. I’m probably about seven years old.

I pause and look at this photograph a few times a week. I can remember my great-grandmother’s passing a handful of years after this photo was taken, perhaps the first funeral I attended, and I remember my grandmother’s passing, just a few years ago.

What strikes me about this image is that my mom is now older than my grandma was in this photo.

I am grateful for the good relationship I have with my mom. We text and FaceTime and talk on the phone regularly. She’s come to stay with us after your births, though missing each of them by only a few hours. She’s called me for recipes, I’ve called her for garden advice.

This may seem strange, but I realized something recently: As good as our relationship was and is and will continue to be, I just don’t remember my mom as she was in this picture. In her thirties. Before the divorce. Just having finished her RN degree. With a big perm.

I am in my thirties.

The interesting thing about aging is that I don’t remember people as they were in old photographs; I can only remember them as they are now. I see snapshots and think that I remember moments, but I don’t really know the people as they were. I can’t hear their laughter or see the way pants puckered or smell the perm. I don’t remember what worried them or what they watched on TV. It’s as if my mom was always the mom she is now.

I love my mom in her sixties. She’s amazing. And way more fashionable than she was when this photo was taken, by the way.

But what was she like in her thirties?

That’s what this blog is about, I suppose. Trying to offer a small piece of who I am so that you will know and you will remember. Trying to help you know the me I was when you arrived on the scene, the me I was when I was learning what it meant to be a mother, the me you’ll hopefully still be able to find in the me of my sixties. Or seventies. The me who struggled a lot and cried a lot, but also loved a lot and cultivated a life of community and courage and compassion around her daughters.

Basically, I want you to know me.

Welcome to my world, girls.

Your Momma