Dear Atticus, losing and finding

Dear Atticus,

The expectation is that I will talk to you about my passion, about books and reading and how we cannot wait to share that with you, but it has been hard for me to formulate my thoughts on that topic. Before I talk to you about those things, I find that there is something else I should say.

Though I love stories of all kinds, there is nothing like losing yourself in a good book. Your dad has trouble getting my attention sometimes, when I am engrossed in a particularly riveting story. I was the girl who got in trouble for reading when I wasn’t supposed to, the girl who read ahead and lost the place when the whole class was reading out loud. I didn’t do it on purpose. I did it because I couldn’t help it.

The thing about losing yourself in a book is that what you are really doing is finding yourself within its pages. Finding yourself in Frodo’s story, or Harry’s, or Anne Shirley’s. Learning how to be more human as you immerse yourself in the words and world of another. Learning that you are not the only one who feels a certain way. Learning to see things from another perspective, which helps you grow as a person.

Though I do not advocate losing yourself in romantic relationships, forgetting who you are and who you can be, it is also true that the best relationships help you to find yourself. It is true that I have lost parts of myself since I married your dad. I am not the same person I was when we met. (When I was nineteen. Thank goodness.) But I have found things I did not know were possible, things like compassion and patience and stores and stores of love. Also the ability to pick his socks up off the floor, again.

I resisted having a baby for a long time because I have been desperately afraid of losing myself in motherhood. I have seen mothers who don’t seem to have any interests other than their children, and I am, frankly, not interested in that. They tell me they don’t have time to read! I can’t imagine my life without reading. How could I be a healthy person? It’s one reason pregnancy has been especially hard for me, because I haven’t felt like myself. I haven’t felt like reading or exercising. I am just so tired. And it has scared me, this feeling that I have already lost some crucial part of myself.

This has been a hard week, and I have been filled with fear about the future. So here is what I want to say to you: I am not sure that I will be good at this motherhood thing. (I am sure I will not be as good at it as my own mother was and is.) I have doubt and I lack patience. But I meant what I said back in July: we chose to have you in our lives, and we did it as an act of faith. Despite my misgivings, I am trying to believe that rather than losing myself, I will be finding myself in ways that I never even imagined.

Love,
Mama

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