The last time I wrote one of these newsletters, you had just turned five years old. You and I had both just started school: you, kindergarten and I, my second attempt at college. Your dad and I had divorced earlier in the year, and the two of us (you and I) were still getting used to the many ways in which our lives had suddenly changed.
Now, four years later, you’re nine years old and in fourth grade, and I’ll be graduating in the spring. It’s been a busy few years! I’m happy to report that we’ve settled into a new and wonderful life together. Oh, and there’s another thing: it’s no longer just the two of us…
Meeting Randy was unexpected and without a doubt one of the very best things that has ever happened, not just to me, but to us. When Randy and I first started dating, you’d frequently see text notifications come across my phone screen and you’d shout, “Mom, Randy Hanks is texting you!” If I was talking with someone on the phone, you’d excitedly interrupt asking, “Are you talking to Randy Hanks?” He was never simply Randy to you, always Randy Hanks.
Your cousins caught on to this, and even still, more than two years later, the youngest boys still frequently call him by first and last name. I have to admit that even I’ve been sucked in! His contact information remains exactly as it was when I first entered it into my phone (many people have their partner listed in a less formal way), because seeing his full name show up when he calls or texts always reminds me of how excited you’d get when the words “Randy Hanks” flashed across my screen.
The first time you met him, he was walking to the front door of our apartment and you stood there, with the door slightly ajar, peering through the crack. Before he could knock, you threw open the door and very seriously asked, “are you Randy Hanks?” He and I both expected a full-on interrogation about the nature of his intentions with your mother but, much to my surprise, you took it pretty easy on him… that first day at least.
You, baby girl, are actually a big part of the reason I fell in love with Randy. Because I took my role as single mother and independent woman very seriously, I had built incredibly tall, thick walls around the two of us. But seeing you and Randy together – the level of trust you had in him, the way he immediately took to you as if you were his own – sure enough, those walls came down (quicker than you can say “Randy Hanks” three times fast).
You are smart, Morgan. I suspected this about you from a very early age but with each passing year, you prove just how true it really is. I took you to a book fair when you were in first grade and upon arriving, the woman behind the cash register enthusiastically pointed us in the direction of the “princess and fairy” books. She was very excited about them and thought that certainly you, an adorable little girl, would be as well. That’s when you looked at me, rolled your eyes, then turned back to her and matter-of-fairly said, “I’m interested in ocean life, weather patterns, and the human body.”
You recently used the phrase “fully-articulated” in a sentence, and when I asked if you knew what that meant, you correctly explained it to me. Another subject you can give a detailed explanation of is cystic fibrosis. You’ve always been interested in my health, and that interest has only intensified over the years. You understand my disease on a level that many adults in my life still do not. When you were six years old, something happened that I will never forget. Your questions about CF became more frequent and more serious until one day, the inevitable happened. “Mama, will you die from CF?”
There is nothing in the world that can prepare a parent for those kind of questions. I’ve always promised to be honest with you, but in that moment, I thought about lying. After a moment of silence, I took your hand and, just as we have done so many other times, we sat together, held onto one another and proceeded to have an extremely difficult conversation.
In recent weeks, two things have happened that have made me realize just how grown up you’re becoming. The first took place on your first day back to school. You didn’t ask me to walk you to your class! Not only that, but as you and your cousins hopped on your bikes to ride to school together, you didn’t even look back at me! I’ve always treasured those first days of school when you would clutch my hand so tightly, pull me down the hallway and into your classroom, then right up to your desk. It always made me feel good, in a way, knowing that you hated to leave me as much as I hated seeing you go. But not this year…
The second thing happened when you went to San Diego with your grandma and grandpa over Labor Day. The first day you were gone, we talked on the phone for about 5 minutes, but by the second or third day, I was lucky if I got to speak to you for two. You were having so much fun and were easily distracted. Talking to Mom just wasn’t your biggest priority. It was painful for me to realize that you didn’t need me as much as you have in the past. And even though that’s precisely the point — to raise an autonomous child who can navigate this world with confidence — I’ve been forced to admit that I’m not quite ready for all this.
And maybe that’s okay. Our relationship has always been a little unconventional. So even though I’m the mom, I might need you to lead the way sometimes. To tell me when it’s time to let go a little, to help me have the courage to speak the truth even when it’s scary, or encourage me to let my walls down in order to allow something wonderful to happen.
I promise to do better and be more accepting of these things if you promise to CALL YOUR MOTHER the next time you go out of town!