A Letter to my Daughter: Life Lessons I learned from a 4 month old

Dear Alexandra,

Today you are four months old already. Last night I saw you do something that both amazed me and made me realize just how quickly you are growing up. For the first time, you tried to crawl.

Obviously, you couldn’t do it yet. Still, you kept trying. I had put you down on your tummy facing your toys on the little play gym on the floor. You generally don’t like tummy time, but I know its good for you so I try to make sure we spend a few minutes doing it every night. I jiggled a toy in front of you to try to keep your attention and to my amazement you realized you wanted it and gave an honest effort at trying to go after it.

At first you reached out your arm and realize it was far too short. Then I saw you kick your legs and start swimming your arms and trying so hard to propel yourself forward. You even tried to grasp the mat with your fingers to pull yourself forward but you weren’t strong enough. Yet. I saw you putting forth so much effort. You wouldn’t stop trying. You started grunting with the effort and getting frustrated that you were working so hard and going nowhere.

My first instinct was to pick you up and put you close enough to touch the toy, but I realized that I shouldn’t. Part of me was just so amazed to see you even attempt something so new and of course I had to run and get my phone so I could record it for your dad. I let you struggle for a few minutes. Now I’ll explain why.

Someday you will be able to crawl, and eventually walk and then run, but not yet. You have to first develop the muscle strength to be able to hold yourself erect, and the coordination to balance. You will develop that strength and coordination in due time my Love, do not worry.

Your struggle reminded me of what we all go through throughout our lives. If someone always picks you up and puts you within arm’s reach of that dangling toy, you will never develop those muscles to be able to get there yourself.

You taught me a great lesson last night. Lately I’ve been getting sort of frustrated with running and my career and even in dealing with the day to day.

Two summers ago I was running 5K’s in the 17:20-:40 range and now I’m struggling to run 19:00. I knew that it would take some time to get back, but I didn’t anticipate it would take this long, or even all the new challenges I would face. Yep, I was completely naïve to all the challenges of balancing work, taking care of a young baby and trying to train like I did two years ago.

Sometimes I see my times in workouts and the effort I have to go through to achieve them now and get frustrated, even mad. I think “why bother putting in this much effort for these results.” “Maybe I should just stop chasing some crazy dream and learn to be content just being able to run.” The workouts feel hard, and the races feel hard. I find myself wanting to give up.

Seeing you struggling, yet not giving up, was the hard smack in the face that I needed. I know that eventually you’ll be crawling all over the place, but you don’t. Yet you still put forth that effort, straining and grunting because you saw something you wanted and decided you were going to go get it. Yes, at just four months old you are already showing yourself to be tougher than your mama.

So it brought me back to all the years and years of miles and races and workouts and bad races that I went through to get to the point I was at two years ago running in the 17’s. It was hard, and it was frustrating and there were times then that I wanted to give up. I didn’t know then that someday it would all pay off, I just had to hope and keep trying.

Even balancing day to day activities has been a challenge for me since returning to work. Its been a month now and I feel like I should be settled into a routine but I find its still difficult sometimes. The past couple nights your daddy had to travel for work so I was steering the ship alone and it was incredibly humbling. I learned that I really appreciate all that your dad does every night that I don’t always see and I also developed a huge appreciation for single parents that are living that every single day. I only had to do it two nights and I ended up scarfing down a cold piece of pizza and ice cream bar for dinner at 9:45 pm on one night, and the next evening I got a speeding ticket while on my way to pick you up from daycare!

You reminded me that all our lives we’re laying there on our bellies, seeing the item of our desire right there in front of us, yet it still remains just out of reach. We never know if we’ll ever be able to grasp it in our hands, yet we know that if we don’t ever struggle to push ourselves beyond our limits it will always stay just out of our reach.

When I think back about all the most wonderful things that have ever happened in my life, not one of them has been easy to come by. Maybe that is part of what makes them so wonderful in the first place. Would there be as much joy in attaining something that you didn’t have to work hard to get? I had to go through several heartbreaks before I met your daddy, the love of my life. On the day that we said our vows I remember feeling such incredible joy and peace, knowing that everything that happened up to that point, any pain was all worth it. He was the only one for me, and I knew it.

The day I had you was so similar. I had some tough struggles through the pregnancy and I’ll always carry with me the scar from where they pulled you out of my belly. I actually like the scar. I see it and it reminds me of you and the struggle I had to go through to finally meet my wonderful, sweet little girl. The moment I heard your first cry was the best moment of my entire life. Our family felt complete and all the pain I had experienced paled in comparison to the joy and love I was experiencing.

When things start to feel hard, one look at your smiling face reminds me that its more than worth it. I was pretty upset about getting a speeding ticket yesterday. It had been a hard couple days without your daddy there. The timing of it all as I was trying to pick you up from daycare on time just made me feel like I was failing. When I walked into daycare and watched your face light up and give me a huge grin the moment you saw me completely washed away everything else and I knew I had everything I’d ever wanted.

Sometimes its easy to get impatient. We want what we want and we want it now. Its important that we always keep driving ourselves forward into the struggle. For it’s actually the struggle that develops those muscles and coordination that will eventually allow us to get to where we want to go. So keep trying, Love, never give up. You may feel like your efforts are leading you nowhere but they are always moving you forward. You may not always see this, but trust that it is happening. I will try to remember this too.

When I run in the race tomorrow and things start to get tough, I will think about you grunting on your belly and not give up. You’ve brought me more joy than I’ve ever known and now you’re teaching me important life lessons too. Pretty impressive for a four month old.

I love you always.

Mommy

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