When you have a baby, you don’t just choose her outfits, you choose her world.
Nerdy English teacher alert.
On a personal note, I’m writing today a letter of things on my mind, after spending time with our families over the holidays. Maybe one of them will come across it. But for the general public, perhaps it’s food for thought about what kind of circle of people you want influencing your family.
Dear Siblings and Siblings-in-law,
SG and I have been begging you to move closer to us. I know you are tired of hearing my reasons for choosing the DFW area, with it’s amazing Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters, its Asian-y vibe, its Texan hospitality and warmth… blah blah blah. Suffice it to say that it’s not perfect here, but has A LOT going for it. But let’s put all that aside for today. The real reason I want you to move is a selfish one, but hear me out.
I really need you.
If motherhood has taught me anything over the past (almost) 2 years, it’s that people need people. Growing up as an only girl, I told myself I never needed anyone. I guess I sort of needed my mother to soften me up into a more graceful and tolerant person, but so often, I was alone when it came to my little-girl world. I repressed my desire for sisterly love and bonds because it just didn’t happen for me.
My parents were immigrants and my siblings and I had to learn the American culture by experience and lots of trial and error. We have amazing extended family but most were far away when we were growing up. What few experiences I had with them, I absolutely treasure. My deepest regret is not being closer to them, in proximity and in relationship. I believe I missed out on some would-have-been-great relationships with my incredible grandparents, aunts and others because they were an ocean away.
Fast forward a few decades.
And here I am.
There was a very short time period after becoming a mother that I thought I could be Super Mom and do everything and be everything my child needed. That lasted maybe half a day. I realized I need people to help me, in order to become the best mom I can be. I need good people to be a part of my baby’s life, in order for him to grow and experience the world. I need you as a contrast to the rest of the world, so he will be able to know what good is by seeing it in you.
You are a part of his world because we think you are honest, good, upright, loving and supportive. You will be a positive influence on him and so that is why we’ve pushed so hard for you to be close to us.
One day very soon he will say to me, “I hate you” and of course not mean it, but rather, he will mean he wants to be his own person. He will still need love and seek out support of others. He will still ask for people to give him guidance and he may not ask SG or me: he might come to you. I sincerely hope for you to have close bonds to my child so that he will feel like he can come to you for advice or guidance, on the day he decides his mom and dad aren’t cool anymore.
I’ve lived away from my family for 5 years now. I have my reasons for doing so, but now that I have a child to think about, I wonder how I can bring us closer. We make fun of your quirky behaviors and obsessions with video games, fishing and computers (lots of programmers in my fam) but deep down, we love you. And we love the time we get to spend together. You are all still thinking about where to land after schooling and where to raise your own families. I know it’s a huge decision to make. And it’s a decision that I am not really a part of. But for a split-second, on the day you do decide, will you think of me, SG and Baby? We won’t have to get on a plane to spend Christmas together. We can take your kids for the weekend when you want to go rock climbing (but only if you ask nicely). We will likewise take interest in your future children and encourage them to be their best.
You don’t have to live on the same street as we do.
You just have to be a little bit closer.
If you find anything that beats our town, send me a link.