to Gummy Bear on the occasion of her birth

…plus about six weeks (Happy belated International Women’s Day?)


You’ll have to give me a moment here: I’m still wrapping my brain around the fact that my friends made a person. They’re not my first friends to have ever gone and made a whole new human being, so I know from experience that this awe never really goes away. The other day I looked down at you and thought, one day this child will be a walking talking college student and I blew my own mind. Your mom and I do this from time to time, reminding ourselves when we met, where we came from, how we got here now, and every time it just a little bit blows our minds.


Your mom has a lot of wonderful friends who can tell you a lot of wonderful stories about her (and please, please ask them, because they will be very willing to share some of those memories…and home movies) but this is what I know from our years of friendship so far: people will grow up, and they will have life experiences that shape them, press them, and push them in new directions. Their tastes may likely change, their world will certainly expand, and they might look back on adolescent activities with a twinge of mortification that reverberates through the years, but if they are thoughtful, honest, and open in their growth then – at the end of it all – they will remain fundamentally the same person. Older but still no less thoughtful, honest, and kind than they were when you first met them. Your mom is like that. Your dad, too.

It’s hard to look at a baby and think ‘future self-reliant being,’ just like it’s hard to look at a dorky teenager and think ‘future fellow adult,’ but somehow it still happens.


I’m referring to both of us on that dorky teenager part, just for the record.

You came fast, though you probably already know this.

{ That’s a story that belongs to your mom and your dad, so I won’t tell it here. }

I think it’s safe to say you took us all a little off-guard, prayers for few more weeks of healthy gestation quickly turning into prayers for a safe and healthy birth, and just like that you were here.


You had been here for months already, of course, a tiny vital presence on this earth. “There are three people on this couch right now,” I’d think when I sat down next to your mom. “There are three people in this hug right now,” I’d say when we maneuvered into a slightly awkward variation of our greetings and goodbyes.

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You were real and you were here, and yet it’s a bit theoretical when you’re not the one carrying the baby (and have no real experience to compare it to.) My thoughts would snap from OMG, Kayla is pregnant! to Holy crap, Kayla is growing a human being inside of her body. The first time I laid my hand on your mom’s stomach and felt you moving around, I got chills. The first time I actually saw you moving from all the way across the room, I was speechless.


There is no way to compare my experience watching my friends become parents to the experience of my friends actually becoming parents, but I can tell you this: being on the outside of a birth is like standing right at the edge of a miracle, deep and transformative and powerful, even if you can’t know the full experience of it.


Your name, well-chosen, means peace and victory. You are remarkably physically capable for being so very brand new (and again, I have no real experience here, but I’ve been told that this is true) and your mom has been quick to affirm that strength, to honor that determination that followed you into the world.


I’ve never seen three people so strong, so determined, as the three of you in those first few days at home. It’s no less astounding than birth, this transition. With you still getting used to being air-breathing and earth-side, they were getting used to you as an entity independent from your mom. It was hard. I’m sure there were moments when they felt about as capable as they were well-rested. Yet there you were, tiny and perfect, and there they were, devoted and adoring. However shaky those first few steps as a family might have felt, however much of a struggle they truly were for the three of you, I once again stood on the outside of incredible strength and witnessed, from up close, an incredible transition: the peaceful victory of two lives welcoming another.

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I can recall one evening when we sat – your mom sandwiched between Amanda and I on my little sofa – talking about being a woman, holding your own, and demanding presence. Not apologizing for existence. Not apologizing for taking up space. I might even have dropped a reference to Charlize Theron’s MURDER walk and manslamming. There was a beat of silence. “How am I going to do it?” your mom asked. “How am I going to teach her how to be strong all on her own?”

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As truthful as She has you, duh felt in that moment (and as truthful as it will be forever and always) I didn’t want it to seem like a pat reassurance – there was a depth to her concern that deserved a fuller answer. I thought about the party we’d just had to celebrate being one step closer to knowing you.


“She will learn it because her mom is amazing…


“…and because her mom has surrounded herself with strong and amazing women…”


“…who already love her…”


“…because they already love her mom.”



That is the truth.

This is your story, or part of it anyway: the part that you’ve inherited. Your parents, overwhelmingly in love with you, and their people – their folks – their community of friends, overwhelmingly ready to expand our own love for your family to include a brand new member. It certainly doesn’t hurt that you’re damn cute.


I was deep in the midst of listening to the Hamilton cast recording as I drove over to your house for your first official portraits and this song came on. It’s a sweet and tender little ballad, coming on the heels of intense fighting (and intense rapping) and a reminder that all of these struggles have been for more than just power and personal glory: they’re setting a new course for their children. And sure, it’s dramatic – I mean, most parents will not actively start a new nation – but they will start a new tribe and culture within the walls of their home, and that’s kind of the same thing. They’ve each fought their own revolutions, sometimes heartbreaking and groundbreaking, but most often quiet and personal.

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They’ve given themselves to this struggle.

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They’ve founded a family.

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if we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you,

we’ll give the world to you and you’ll blow us all away,



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You could not ask for a richer inheritance. Welcome to this world, my dear <3


Auntie Em