Dear Mija: The Best Gift We Can Give You

Dear Mija,

Your daddy and I have been talking more about you recently because you are kicking and moving quite a lot these days. We wonder what you’re going to look like? Will you have a head full of dark hair? Will you have light skin like me or dark skin like your daddy? Your auntie Christine thinks you’ll be caramel colored. We talk about what it will be like with a newborn in our lives? Your daddy imagines all three of us going for breakfast and walking Pepe at El Cerro. I just imagine being really, really tired.

Mija, we are excited to be your parents, but we know we’re going to mess up. You will quickly learn that we’re not perfect. You’ll see me get frustrated and make loud exaggerated sighing noises from the kitchen when I find more dirty dishes in the sink. Daddy might get mad when I pepper him with a hundred questions as soon as he walks in the door. You’ll see us arguing and sometimes we disagree about what we should buy or where we should go.  But we love each other a whole lot and we hope you’ll see that, too.

In fact I think one of the greatest gifts we can give you is a healthy marriage; not a perfect marriage, but a healthy one. One where you’ll hear us say, “I love you” and “I am sorry” frequently. One where you see us having fun and laughing together, but also one where you know how our voices change when we start arguing and disagreeing.

We are fortunate that this is something our parents gave and modeled for us. Yes, Mija both of your grandparents, still love each other a lot and showed your daddy and I what a lifelong partnership looks likes.

Look at these pictures of your abuelitos:

Hilda y Roduel

They got married 40 years ago on April 7, 1973. They raised four kids and adopted one more. Your daddy says they showed him what sacrifice and commitment looks even when it wasn’t easy. Your abuelo, Papa Choyo, tells me that your abuela was always the strong one of the relationship. She trusted and prayed when he doubted and wondered how God would provide. Your Mama Hilla just smiled when I asked her if she was the strong one. She said, “No, no fue asi. I just supported him and squeezed his leg under the table whenever he talked too much.”

 

Now, these are my mom and dad, your Nana and Papa.

Mom & Dad

They got married 31 years ago on November 28, 1981. They also had four kids and a few dogs and cats and fish in the mix. I remember Nana and Papa always being honest with us kids about God, money and big family decisions. They didn’t hide things from us or sugarcoat answers. And they didn’t hide how much they loved each other either. My dad, your Papa, would write scribbled, barely legible, post-it notes for Nana, and leave it on her car just to say I love you.  And your Nana would plan and prepare meals and activities for us four kids, so that they could get away just the two of them for a few nights. Something I never realized was probably essential to their healthy marriage.

Your daddy and I are still learning how to do this; how to have the kind of marriage that endures for 30 or 40 years. But I hope you see how your daddy adores me. How he kisses me on the lips before he leaves for the day and how he reaches across the car to grab my hand and say “Yo te amo, Michelle.” How he gets gas in my car and fixes the shower when there’s no hot water and never complains when I ask him to pick up something from the tienda.

And I hope you see how much I love him, too.

Mija, there is a verse in 1 John that says something about you will know they are my disciples by how they love each other. And your daddy and I believe this with our whole heart. We want you to see God in us and in our marriage. We want you to see how much we love each other by how we treat one another and talk about the other person even when they’re not there.

So it may mean we leave you for a weekend with friends so we can have a few nights away. Or it may mean we take time as a family to rest and play and remember how to love each other well when we get tired, grouchy and short-tempered. And it will most definitely mean that we’ll need lots of grace as we figure out how to be parents to you and keep loving and serving one another well.

Our Wedding Day

My prayer is that one day you’ll see a picture like this from our wedding day and say, “oh, the best gift my parents gave me was that they loved each other well.”

Mija, we can’t wait to meet you and be your parents.

Love,

Mama

(Mija is a Spanish word that literally means “my daughter.” It’s actually written “mi hija.” But when said quickly together it sounds like “mija” and it is said with endearment, kind of like sweetie or sweetheart in English. Female teachers often use it with little girl students. Mijo being the equivalent for little boys. It happens to be one of my favorite Spanish words.)

This is the second letter in a series of letters to my future daughter. The first can be read here.

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