Dear Leta and Not-Maria,
What is this? A newsletter? You don’t say! What, you’d given up on the idea that I would ever write one again? Well there’s your first mistake! Thinking I’m so predictable like that. I get that all the time, kids. People email me and say, dooce! God! Don’t you ever write about anything other than your boobs and your poop? And little did they know that RIGHT THAT SECOND I was working on a post about someone else’s boobs.
If you haven’t realized already I’m writing this to the both of you, both meaning you, Leta, and you, the baby in my womb whom we are not naming Maria. I know, Leta, already you’re being forced to share things with your little sister even though she hasn’t been born yet. How unfair is that, right? Well, don’t worry. I’m keeping a list of all the things that you think are unfair and taping it to the refrigerator. Having to Share A Monthly Newsletter With Your Little Sister is now at the top of that list, right above Only Getting to Watch One Episode of SpongeBob Before School, That Time I Wouldn’t Let You Eat Girl Scout Cookies For Breakfast, and Being Forced to Sleep on a Pillowcase That Isn’t Pink. Looking over that list now I realize that years from now a therapist will lean over, touch your knee gently, and wonder aloud how you survived being raised by a pack of wolves.
You’ll notice as well that these newsletters are now written to commemorate the month of the year and not Leta’s age in months. It’s a change I implemented to reflect that these will now be written to the both of you, to signify that these are the things we did together as a family during a specific time frame. People have been asking me repeatedly about whether or not I planned to continue writing these, and would I write one to each of you individually. My answer was that it just makes sense to me to combine them into one considering what will be a large portion of overlapping material. Although, I think my exact words were, “The new baby will have to suck it.” Yes, I know, terrible. Just terrible. Who tells their unborn child to suck it? SOMEONE WHO IS OVER SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT. THAT’S WHO. Also, probably Denis Leary. And Hitler.
Our lives have been completely out of whack for about two months now, another reason it’s taken so long to write this newsletter. I left for a three-week book tour, and even though I was able to come home on the weekends the time I spent away from the family completely wrecked everyone’s schedules. Your father was able to spend that last week with me on the road because Grandmommy agreed to watch you, Leta, for the time that we were gone. And we were careful not to mention this to you until the day before, a good move on our part, because once you found out you wouldn’t talk about anything else. In fact, you kept asking us to clarify the details just to make sure you weren’t imagining things. “I’m going with Grandmommy?” you’d ask. “And I’m going to spend many nights with her?” We’d nod to confirm, and you’d always add, “AND YOU’RE NOT COMING WITH ME, RIGHT? RIGHT?? SAY THAT YOU’RE NOT COMING WITH ME!”
I didn’t ever take that last part personally, but I did have to resist going no, we’re not coming with you, and by the way, there is no such thing as Santa Claus.
You couldn’t wait to get rid of us. And every night when we’d call to check up on you, my mother said you’d bury your head in a pillow to avoid the reality that all those gifts and ice cream cones AND GETTING TO SLEEP IN THE BED WITH GRANDMOMMMY would one day come to an abrupt, uncomfortable end. I capitalized that specific part of the sentence because OH MY GOD. IF THERE EVER WAS A REASON TO KILL MY MOTHER. We’ve spent hours and hours since then walking you back to your bed at night, listening to you whine BUT GRANDMOMMY LET ME! Yes, I know, Grandmommy lets you do a lot of things, that is the privilege of being a grandparent, of living to see your rotten kids have their own rotten kids. But this time she may have gone too far, and next time you wake up at 4 AM and argue that you deserve to sleep in our bed BECAUSE THAT WOMAN LET YOU, I’m going to call her right then, scream THIS IS YOUR FAULT, and then hang up. And then I’m going to drive to her house and wrap her front yard in toilet paper.
As for you, Not-Maria, there’s only so much to report about someone we haven’t yet met, but I will say this: you are one active little bean. I remember a few months ago when I first starting feeling you move around, how delicate your jabs and kicks felt against the wall of my belly. I brought this up with my doctor, mentioned how much more gentle your movements felt in comparison to Leta’s, and she started laughing. Because I guess my placenta is sitting on top of you in such a way that the fact that I can feel you at all indicates that you are a ninja. Right now as I type this you are kicking violently against my ribcage, and your hands are hammering nails into my pelvis. You routinely curl up into a ball and poke your butt out so far that my belly takes the shape of a ski slope. There are many nights when your father just sits and stares as my belly takes on a life of its own, a huge bump here, two bumps over there, and OH MY GOD, WAS THAT THE OUTLINE OF A CHIN? Maybe this one will look like me!
If this is in any way a preview of what your energy is going to be like on this side of the womb, then hoo boy, we are totally screwed. Especially since the only previous experience we have is with a baby who didn’t really move so much as scream until someone moved her.
Both your father and I have tried to slow down our schedules so that the next two months are a bit more peaceful, a bit less chaotic than normal, so that we can cherish these last few weeks alone with Leta. It’s not that we aren’t looking forward to bringing you home, Not-Maria, and with the way things are going that is the exact name that will go on your birth certificate: Not-Maria Because Your Father is So Indecisive Armstrong.
But we’ve been told countless times by couples with multiple children to stop and enjoy the time we have alone with the first child. Because it will very soon be a bit of history, when we were only three. When it was just Mama, Daddy, and the one who changed our lives forever. Leta, I think you’re old enough that you will have memories of this time, of when it was just us, and that is something we will share for the rest of our lives. You knew us when. You are the one who ushered in that monumental phase of our lives and have lived with us as we fumbled our way to this next phase, and here we are are about to go on this ride together. I’m so excited that you are here to experience this with us, and I cannot wait to see the ways in which this little sister opens up your life. I am as excited about meeting her as I am about watching your life grow to include her.