Dear Atticus, on sentimentality

Dear Atticus,

Everyone who knows us would agree that your dad is the sentimental one in our relationship. I feel deeply, but you will probably never hear me going on about those deep levels of feeling. I am not good at gushing. A lot of women post on Facebook how much they love their husbands and children. That sort of thing makes me feel inadequate. I do love the two of you, my boys, but I don’t express my emotions that way.

Rather than being mushy, I would have to identify my feelings for you as protective. I have felt protective of you from the moment you were born, ready to stand between you and the pain of this world as much as I can for as long as I can. Instead of gushing about you on Facebook and watching you sleep, I have tried to make decisions that put you first. I have tried to be intentional, tried to care for you as one of the least of these. I have researched issues, compared brands, and made choices that made things more difficult for me. I did these things because that’s my version of gushing. I gather information and weigh who we are as a family and do our best. Instead of mushy hearts, it looks like cloth diapers and pumping at work.

Sometimes that hasn’t felt like enough. I have wondered if my lack of expression has hurt you. Should I have held you more, been more excited to see you first thing in the morning? But lately, when you reach for me because no one but your mama will do, I know you understand my heart for you even if I don’t seem to have the ability to go on and on about it.

My favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle, said in one of her books, “Love isn’t how you feel, it’s what you do.” I trust that kind of love because it shows up and does the hard work even when it doesn’t feel like it. You will have to count on your dad for sentimentality. But you can count on me to advocate for you and to think things through. We each have our own ways of expressing love and affection. I can’t wait to learn what your ways are. (I assume that slobbering all over my chin with your gums is not a permanent thing.)


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