Dear Hank and Gus,
Six years ago this week I married your dad. I knew he was the right guy to marry. We started dating shortly after I was diagnosed with melanoma. He didn’t laugh when I made awkward jokes about my scar. He took me shopping for a roller derby helmet when I joined a team to make myself feel strong again. He took me to concerts of bands I had never heard of, he made countless road trips home with me so I could see my family, he never said anything unless he really meant it. He respected me, encouraged me, and challenged me. I was in love. So we got married.
The first year of marriage was hard. He lost his job. I had a bone tumor. We sold our house. We moved to Sioux Falls, SD. A fresh start. It was what we needed to do. Life was looking up. We bought a house. We had you, Hank.
Hank, you were perfect. You were everything I ever wanted. I needed you. You made me so happy. I loved you so much that I didn’t want to share you with anyone. I didn’t want to take you anywhere, just in case something might happen. Some days, I was so worried about your safety, I would call in sick to work so we could stay home. I would check on you multiple times a night, just to make sure you were breathing. I dropped into daycare frequently to make sure you were okay. I was such a good mom.
And then something happened. One night, after I had placed you so carefully in your bed, your dad did something. Something that I have never spoke of. He said “I think you need help.” How dare he. I did not want help. I did not need help. But then again, your dad has never said anything to hurt me. He has never lied to me. I trusted him more than I trusted myself. I knew how hard it was for him to say that to me. Because when you love someone, you never want to say something that might hurt them. But sometimes you have to.
I timidly emailed my doctor. I told her that your dad was worried about me. I told her that the week before, I skipped out of a zoo trip because the 6 blocks of driving weren’t worth the risk. I explained that I checked on you multiple times a night, and I was not sure if I was being a vigilant mom or if this was abnormal. She asked me to come in. So I did. She told me that sometimes after women have babies they suffer from severe anxiety. This anxiety can become dangerous if it is not treated. But even if it does not become dangerous, I am hurting myself and so many people in my life by not doing something about it. I chose treatment in a pill form. Because that was what was right for me.
The other night when I took my little pill bottle from high up in the medicine cabinet and you asked me what they were for…I lied to you. I told you they were something I need to take to make me not sick. They are not. I do not need to take them. They are something I want to take. They are something I want to take for you and your dad. These pills do not make me happy. You make me happy. The pills are what help me make you happy. These pills are what allow us to do things like go to the zoo, spend a day at the farm, or go to the pool. These pills are making me smile when I drop you off at preschool instead of cry, begging you to be careful on the playground.
Boys, I need you to know this story. I need you to know that the way you care for and treat your future partner is the most important thing you can do for your future children. Every thing you say and do will some day come to that one moment of your relationship that you need, more than anything, for them to trust you. If I did not trust your dad, we would live a lonely life. One without soccer and hikes. One without boat rides and cannon balls.
Hank and Gus, be kind to your friends, your family, your spouses. If they need help, tell them. Don’t call them crazy. Don’t write them off. Never judge them. They need you. And in the end, we all need each other.
Happy Anniversary to my husband and partner in this life of adventures. No one has ever made being a dad look like so much fun.