Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dear Four-Year-Old Rya D.,

This year I quit my job as an editor to stay home with you. Although I really enjoyed working for Arcadia, especially sitting in a quiet office all day and fooling around all day working with some of the best co-workers I've ever had, I enjoy spending my day with you WAY more. I doubt I'll ever regret my decision to spend more time with you. By the time you wake each morning, Currier is off to school and Daddy is on his way to work. You yell from the top of the stairs as I sip my coffee, "Mom, is Currier and Daddy gone?" I yell back, "Yes, they're gone!" You beam, "Just us girls!" Oh Rya, I can't tell you enough how much I love our girl time! We usually eat a quick breakfast and then rush to the gym to get to my class on time (or a few minutes late—we are Balents after all!) You never complain though. I think you love the gym just as much as I do—it’s a routine and an opportunity to socialize. After the gym we usually run an errand or two and it's effortless to have you tag along.  After lunch it’s quiet time (I snooze for 30 minutes or so while you watch Power Rangers—thank you so much for letting me nap!  Currier NEVER let me do this.  I owe you big time—and here it is in writing!) and then we usually do a craft or paint our nails before Currier gets off the bus.  Our days together are simple and in the moment never appear to be anything special but as I sit here writing about them I hope you look back on these times with as much adoration as I do. 
Next week you’re being tested by the State of South Carolina for a special needs program.  Two years ago you were recommended for the program by your pediatrician and the State funded your speech therapy because you were diagnosed developmentally delayed (that’s just a fancy way of saying late talker) and you were released from the program last year.  Well, unfortunately since I took you out of daycare to stay home with me you’ve relapsed quite a bit (Okay, a lot!  No one can understand anything you say except for me!), so now it’s me that is recommending you for the program because as much as it kills me I know it is what is best for you.  Being a mother is the most rewarding and most heart breaking experience of my life.  I hope one day you get to experience EXACTLY what I’m talking about because it is beautiful and it is consuming and will make you lose sleep with worry and it will make you feel love explode inside your chest.  I recommend this experience to everyone.   
This has been a tough year for our family.  It started off with our dog, Paolo, breaking his back followed by both of our cars dying within weeks of each other and then things just kept unraveling after that—how do you say financial shitshow politely?  There is no nice way of saying this year sucked and yet I look back at how you handled all the stress, crying, arguing and heartbreak in our house and it makes me proud how adaptable and positive you are in crappy situations.  It’s a good disposition, my friend, because these times come and go throughout life and learning to cope through laughter is key.  Trust me—just keep laughing. 
The years are slipping by and that is why I’m so happy I was able to slow down and just be with you.  Sure, most days aren’t very exciting and they’re just spent idly at home but truthfully I don’t have ANY memories of my mother outside the home and I am forever comforted by those impressions.  I lost my mother when I was a little girl and I can only hope I am giving you half of the love that my mother gave me.  If that is so, you will be just fine, my sweet, darling, quirky, beautiful, smart four-year-old! 
All my love,

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