Jan Brady had really grown up to live a blessed life: she had a successful career as an architect, she had married a man who she would go through hell with and sometimes did, and she had an adorable adopted daughter named Patti who would very soon become a big sister. Jan was only two days away from her due date with her second daughter and while it was a big deal that she had even conceived the one she was carrying, she couldn't help but wonder if there would be a baby number three in the cards. Despite the challenges she faced in her own upbringing, she always thought it would be wonderful if she could have three girls just like her mother had done.
Ah, her mother. She was the strongest woman that Jan ever knew. Her birth father had died before her little sister Cindy even turned one. Jan thought back and marveled at how her mother still got up everyday after such tragedy and being faced with a huge responsibility everyday by herself. When she would ask Carol, she would always say it was her girls that got her through but Jan knew better; she had read stories about how some mothers were just never the same and they faltered, some taking their children with them. Carol never unglued like that and Jan would be forever grateful. Of course Mike had come along and married her but then she was faced with having three boys that weren't her own to take care of but she tackled that with seeming ease, too. It wasn't until Patti came along did Jan fully realize what it took Carol to step up and be the boy's mother. When Jan doubted herself she would always tell herself that if her mother could do it, so could she.
The baby had interrupted her thoughts; she kicked Jan so hard that she almost spilt her coffee on her. Her baby was getting ready to come out, she supposed. She took a deep breath as she got up and looked around her quiet, empty house. Patti was in pre-school and Phillip had went to work while Jan had a day off thanks to maternity leave. She was going to miss the silence but for now, she hated it. The tears began to stream down her face as her pregnancy hormones began to work at a rapid pace once again. She walked up the stairs and into her bedroom where she would pull out a safe at the top of the closet. There was a key hidden in her underwear drawer in an old jewelery box. Phillip would never find it on account of that he never did the laundry. On top of funeral cards and old wedding invitations, there was an article that her mother had written in a lady's magazine that she subscribed to. Every so often, the magazine would publish their subscriber's writings and that year that Jan graduated high school, she had written a piece that was essentially a love letter to Jan.
To My Daughter That's Different,
Sweetheart, I know life is not fair. You were caught in the middle of my birth order and there will never be anything I could do about that. Your oldest sister was everything the oldest should be; the leader, the popular one, the confident one. Your youngest sister will be the cute little baby that nobody will let her forget that she is. Maybe she always got away with more because she was the baby; maybe your other sister got to test the boundaries first; maybe that in of itself made you feel like you had nothing at all.
But, I'm writing this to tell you that while you may have felt like nothing, I had it all because to me you were everything. I had no idea what life would throw at you on the day that you were born but I swore I was going to love you through everything and I have. I'll never forget how I cried with you when the doctor's let me hold you for the first time. I'll never forget when your father died and how brave you were. Your sister told you not to cry but you did anyway; that's not weakness sweetheart, that's strength. It's okay to feel even when it feels bad and to do it openly is bravery.
You cried many tears because you felt inferior. You will never know how much that has broken my heart. If you could see you from my eyes, you would love yourself to the moon and back just like I do. You will never know how happy you make me when you smile; how proud I am of you even when you're not proud of yourself; the way you sleep in your bed at night fills me with such a peace that only you understand when you become a mother yourself.
I am not writing this to embarrass you; I'm writing this because I want to empower you. So what if you always went at your own pace? Your life is not meant to be comparable to others including your sisters. You are different and that makes you extraordinary.
Mommy loves you.
Mommy loves you. That line would always get to Jan. She folded the article back up as tears began to stream down her face again. She put away the safe and the key and went to the other side of the room to stare at the picture of her with her sisters and mother on their mother's wedding day to Mike. She picked up the photograph and she kissed her mother's face in the frame. She hugged the picture to her chest as her baby inside her began to kick. Jan set the picture down as she hugged her pregnant belly and cradled herself.
"Mommy loves you, baby," Jan told her soon-to-be-newborn.