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JENNA KUTCHER

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Dear Coco: Here’s What’s Happening

Since the day I found out I was pregnant with Conley, I started writing letters to my baby. I’ve got a 42 page Microsoft Word document titled “Letters to My Little Bean,” and I add to it sporadically, to have little notes about each season of life. It’s been a way for me to remember certain seasons that will surely become a blur someday in my mind.

I’ve been thinking about writing Coco a letter for weeks about what’s happening in the world and how someday we’ll tell her about the times we’re currently living in. I know, as a baby, she won’t remember this season, but as her mama, I want to chronicle a bit about it so that someday we can look back and say, “Remember when?” So here’s the letter I wrote to my baby girl to tell her all about this season of uncertainty.

Dear Coco…

You’re napping upstairs in our closet right now. I know that probably sounds funny, but it’s the darkest spot in the house, and we sort of just let it become your little room for now. We’ve been up at the lake house for over a month and settled into life here (a bit unexpectedly!) and so the closet it is, so that you’re nice and close to us while we sleep. The last weeks have been a status of quarantine as we stay safely tucked in the woods at home, away from the world. What’s unfolding every day is scary, a pandemic with no end date, and so we stay here hidden away, just the three of us (and the dogs).

The world is in a state of unease.

But for you, it’s a constant state of joy (with a few tantrums and whines in between for good measure, of course)! If they measured your level of joy at your checkups, you’d definitely be in the 99th percentile. Speaking of checkups, we had to cancel yours because they aren’t allowing any unnecessary medical visits happen. In fact, the whole world kind of shut down — at least the parts that could. We’re seeing everyday people become heroes as they simply show up for work and put themselves at risk in grocery stores, hospitals, as delivery drivers… The list goes on.

I want to write a letter of joy because I’m always looking for the silver lining. While I navigate each way of how to tell the tale we’re living in, I feel like I’m in a constant state of straddling the devastating reality we’re facing and these little joys appearing when we seek them out. It’s this season of uncertainty that bears weight as we pivot, change and transform and while many fight to survive. Baby girl, we are staring our privilege square in the face and not taking it for granted for even a day.

If you were a little older, we’d be navigating the tricky question of how we tell you what’s really happening out there. People are sick, people are dying, that’s what the headlines say, that’s the reality. But there are also stories of people celebrating small wins and serving others and partnering and magnifying results of goodness, of grace. Communities are coming together, small businesses are uniting, people are praying, and so we are choosing to focus on that.

Overnight, our world changed.

We are mandated to be home, to stop the spread of a virus, and to not come in contact with other humans. We haven’t seen other people in weeks, and the way we communicate is through things like FaceTime and Zoom. We miss giving other people hugs… like real, solid hugs. You’ll take the screen and try to kiss Nanna through it and you often hijack our phones and take people on a walk while they are video chatting. A lot of our family has gotten used to seeing just the tip-top of your head and the ceiling of our house as you walk around with them watching.

The price of gas plummeted because no one is driving. (And I smile when I write that line because Grandpa Sulo also tells us that a loaf of bread once cost 10 cents, so I feel like I’m already becoming him when talking about what’s happening right now.) Restaurants are closed, hair salons shut down, beaches are empty, planes are on the ground, businesses are fighting to survive, and it’s crippling the effects that this is having — and there’s still no end in sight. On our daily walks, we see people drive by with masks covering their faces, a sight that will never feel normal, a reminder of what the reality is today.

And while all of this is happening, we’re actively choosing to plant our feet in truth from the moment we rise. I’m clinging to the things I knew to be true a month ago: that our voices matter, that we have a gift to share with the world, that leadership starts in the home because those things are even more true today than they were before. Our world lives in crisis…

But we stay grounded in truth.

Our world over here probably feels normal for you! The three of us spending as much time together as we can, lots of family walks down by the lake, and ample daddy time while mama works. In fact, you’re the happiest I’ve ever seen you, which brings me such joy.

To watch you learn and uncover new discoveries every day is a gift. It’s bittersweet, watching you grow, because it’s happening before our eyes, and I know you’ll be an entirely different girl when all of this ends. You’re fiercely independent, obsessed with the shower, and a big fan of apple sauce that comes in a pouch. You love playing with Chloe, dance every time Lizzo comes on, and you love to mimic what we do. You feed off of our energy, which has challenged us to stay solid for you even when things feel crazy.

You’re getting Nana’s story-time through movies sent online, you’re visiting with your loved ones through a screen, and you’re definitely watching more “Molly of Denali.” But hey, just add it to the list of things we got wrong when we dreamt up the kind of parents we’d become.

Baby girl, someday we’ll tell you…

About the time we stayed up at the lake for months on end… About that season of life where we couldn’t leave the house, and we didn’t feel safe being in the presence of others… About when the entire town, the entire country, shut down and the roads were empty.

We’ll share tales of how the world as we knew it hit “pause,” and how nothing felt normal for anyone. We’ll talk about times where the economy tanked, where life as it once was changed. But we’ll also talk about a season where we had an excuse to stay in and snuggle, to get fresh air and not take it for granted, to reset what “normal” looks like, to get creative with how we communicate, to ask ourselves how we can serve the world and support others, to celebrate our everyday heroes who punch a time clock and take a chance.

While this season will forever be imprinted in our memories because it’s one filled with stress and joy, uncertainty and hope, it’s also been a time for us to come together as a world and collectively determine how we can protect one another. I love you to the moon and back, and being your mama in every season is my greatest joy. Thank you for the snuggles, the hugs, and giggles, and kisses. They somehow make everything better.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Mama


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by Jenna Kutcher 

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