All three of my children were born in the evening. If you are a mother, you can acknowledge the significance of this. They were twenty-one months apart, so when I had my third, my oldest was just three and a half.
The first two spent their first night in and out of my arms, crying because of a reaction to the pain medication I’d taken during labor or because she was THAT starving.
I barely heard a sound from her… for EVER.
She lay next to me in the bed for all of that first night. She murmured a little, nursed a little, and settled back into sleep, happy to be near me.
And so it began. The ending of my motherhood with the child who came into the world as peaceful as a lamb.
And that is why I am crying now. Because you didn’t take a moment to see her. To listen to her soft calls, to her murmurs in the night. Because you thought an eight-almost-nine-year-old’s protests meant nothing.
What you. DON’T UNDERSTAND. Is that SHE never protests. She gives in. She listens to her older sisters’ whims and plays along, whether she really wants to or not. She fits into the jealous eye of her eldest sister, who often teases her because “no one can ever be as nice as Riona.” She is just like her father, same birth sign and all: born with a pure heart, giving, generous, willing to sacrifice all for the love of those around her.
Riona is the one who, back in March, cried herself to sleep because I told her we couldn’t afford camp this year. Riona is the reason I have sacrificed four weeks of my summer for summer school and home visits and Spanish class, all in the futile hope that I could pay for that one week of camp for all three girls.
So. NO. I do NOT want to hear that you “lost” her paperwork, sent in the SAME envelope as my other two daughters. I don’t want to come back from 50 hours of class in 5 days to hear that my youngest daughter was told she was leaving on Tuesday, was not allowed to participate in any camp activities because of this even though she ADAMANTLY TOLD YOU SHE WAS LEAVING ON FRIDAY AND YOU NEVER CALLED US TO CHECK, was told her camp store account was EMPTY WHEN SHE HAD $16 DOLLARS LEFT AND COULD HAVE BOUGH CHAPSTICK FOR HER DRIED LIPS, or that she was just… some other eight-year-old.
Because she’s not. If you could see her, really see her, for the gentle soul that she is, you would understand why I can’t stop crying. You would understand why I have given up half of my summer for my daughters to have the experience that you have now stripped from her. You would understand that a protest from a small voice should be THE LOUDEST PROTEST YOU HAVE EVER HEARD.
But you are not a mother. You are eighteen years old and have yet to learn the reality of this kind of pain.
And that is why I forgive you. Because Riona would.