Dear Henry…

How can you resist that face?

It may sound obvious, but inspiration is infectious.

Get inspired one time, and I tell you, it won’t stop hitting you in the face every which way you turn.
(And you know what that means…lots and lots of blog posts!)
Today I was inspired by one of my favorite Mamalode columns, Mama Digs, by Nici Holt Cline from Dig this Chick. She recently wrote about her dog, Alice, and how she has guilt over putting her on the back burner since the birth of her two daughters.
She said, “When I was pregnant…I wondered if I could love (my baby) as much as I love my dog. That seems like a crazy comparison now but I worried about having enough unconditional heart for another creature in my life. When I said this out loud, the frequent response was something like, ‘Oh you just wait. Your dog will take a permanent seat on the back burner the instant your kid arrives.’ The thought made me tense and I just knew my canine bff would never be burning back there.”
She finishes with, “I’ve felt so much guilt about my relationship with Alice. Writing this is like a giant exhale, a confession. I first admitted my guilt and to my good friend, Caroline, who is an inspiring animal lover and mom. And she smiled and told me I am so close. That, in no time it will all be better than ever because my kids will deepen their interaction with and love of Alice and that, at that same time, I’ll have more time and energy to give her. She told me dogs know love.

So Alice may be peripheral at the moment but she’s steady in my sights. And my devoted dog knows nothing but uninhibited love. There’s stuff cooking on all four burners, Alice, but I see you back there and I am coming.”

As I read this, the tears came alongside the guilt I feel for putting Henry on the back burner ever since AJH’s birth. I thought the best way to handle this would be to write him a letter (yes, a letter). Writing dialogue (through a letter or any other way you see fit) is actually a very therapeutic journaling technique that I used after our first dog, Shiner, passed away. I even wrote a letter back to myself from Shiner (yes, that’s where it gets crazy), but it was actually very good for me. I felt some closure after hearing his response, even if it did come from my sub-conscious.

(Maybe I’ll get brave and post those if you all promise not to judge me for being crazy- writing-letters-to-her-dog lady.)

But for now, it is Henry’s turn. I owe him one.
Dear Henry,
I miss you. I love you. I want to be your mom again. Your “real mom,” not someone that shufles past and pushes you away when you try to lick kiss me. Since the baby came, I have ignored you, as hard as it is to admit. I have pushed you aside because once again I have felt “overwhelmed” and overcome by life.

At first it really did feel like my heart couldn’t fit you both. I know that is not what a mother is supposed to say, but I think it was more like I was afraid to let it fit. Don’t get me wrong, I have never stopped loving you, but I have been avoiding you, numbing myself to you, because I feel like I can only concentrate (or love) one thing at a time, though I know that isn’t fair. I let myself love my baby, while still loving my husband, my family, my friends…so why can’t I do the same for you?

(I think I might know why. I ‘m afraid I will fail. I will fail at loving you, so instead I just push you aside, ignore you, make myself numb to you, just so I don’t have to feel the feeling of failing to love you. If I pretend you’re not there, then I won’t feel sad when I neglect to show you the attention you deserve. I think I might do that with a lot of things in my life…)

Some days the only two words I muster up for you are “Hey, buddy” as I’m leaving in the morning or coming home in the evening.

But still you sit, patiently, waiting for me to really show my love for you again. You are such a good boy.

Sometimes when I feel guilty I give you a bone or a treat and hope you feel the love.

(Don’t I know by now that the ones we love don’t want toys, or treats, or things? They want us. Plain and simple.)

But no matter how much I ignore you, you still come back. You never cease to love me. You will be there with a tail thump, or a wet kiss, or a paw whenever I need you.

And you have no idea how comforting that is.

I promise to make a better effort to show you my love, like I used to.

I want to be more conscious of all the things worth loving in my life.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t find the greatest balance between motherhood, marriage, working and a social life, but if I think of it differently, maybe I can.

Instead of trying to balance being a mom, a wife, a teacher, and a friend…

…I am trying to balance LOVE.

Plain and simple.

And I should never keep myself from loving again for fear of failing.

I know my heart can handle it.

Thank you, Henry, for reminding me that yes, I can let myself love you.

And just like my family, my baby, my husband, my God–even if I mess up, you will still be there.

You are worth loving.


(stay tuned for a reply)

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