When I was young, I had sort of ambivalent feelings about the month of April. The only redeeming factor of the first of the month was seeing my older brothers get pranked by my mom (chocolate covered squares of wax, anyone?), but I was terrified to be made the butt of someone else’s joke. Easter was fun, but often didn’t wait around for April to begin. As for the rest of the month, it was too late for Spring Break and too early for the end of the school year. Even though I was a good student, summer was my favorite time of year, and the spring was just that last stretch before the long, hot days, swimming pools, and wading in the creek.
Nothing changed much as I became an adult. All through college, grad school, and my early career as a teacher, I followed a similar schedule, looking forward to summer and merely enduring those last few months until it arrived.
And then my mom died. April 14, 2010. From that day on, despite the prolonged daylight, April became a dark month, a reminder that she was gone too soon. That she would never meet the grandchild(ren) Hubby and I would have to work so hard to conceive. Each year, in the days leading up to that anniversary, I would feel myself sink into a blue mood, one I wouldn’t be able to shake until after Mother’s Day had passed and, with it, the onslaught of wound-poking advertisements: no, I am not a mother; my own mother is dead.
Last year, for the first time since her death, April 14th came and went without much notice. Why? Because I was less than a week into figuring out my new role as Mommy. Those early days are a blur of sleeplessness, feedings, tears, worry, and immeasurable joy. My daughter (whose name also starts with A) not only gave me the gift of becoming a mother myself, but she gave me a connection to my mom I hadn’t experienced before. With every act of mothering, there was a recognition, a repetition. She bathed me and changed my diapers. She worried and watched while I slept. She responded to my cries with love and compassion. She watched in wonder as I grew and changed daily.
And so, for her birth month, I want to give baby girl a special gift, one I hope she’ll want to read again and again as she gets older. Twenty-six love letters, one for each letter of the alphabet. It’s not enough, but it’s a small token to show her–and anyone else reading this–how she has changed my world for the better. She is the light of my life, the sunshine that turned April bright again.