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A Letter to Camilla and Olivia

By Pia Camilla Harden

Pia and daughters

Dear Camilla and Olivia,

How I love the two of you, how I care. The two of you are the best thing that ever happened to me, And I do not feel obligated to say that because I am your mother, I truly feel it.

You have changed my life completely and it is all for the better, and that is not without a lot of hard work, yet you truly inspire me to be the best I can be.  Do I always accomplish that? Oh no, of course not. As my marriage, you are now my forever spiritual challenge and work.

Camilla, when I discovered I was pregnant with you, I was so happy, I felt the wonders of you right away. In the second month I thought I was going to loose you, I had started bleeding on a trip in Guatemala with your father and we were devastated, but we got down our knees and prayed and prayed and prayed and I had the fortune to give birth to you 7 months later. You took your time, 37 hours of labor and 5 hours pushing, you really took your time and it is peculiar how you are the same in your personality now. When I need us to go somewhere you take your time and it is impossible to push you.

Olivia, your father and I had no idea that I was pregnant with you, we wanted a second child and we wished for a sister to Camilla, we just didn’t know it had happened so soon, I had started working out again and found myself dizzy all the time, as if I was overdoing it. One day when we visited the hospital for a friend of ours I literally thought the floors were swaying like on a boat in a medium storm, and my husband said, “let’s go to the ER since we are right here anyway,” ’’No’’ I responded, “let’s go to Duane Read and get a pregnancy test.” My intuition was speaking and sure enough there you were.

Olivia, my doctor thought I could of lost you too; I was bleeding so much for five months. Down on our knees we went again praying profusely for the four of us, and there you were nine months later, coming out with 18 hours of labor and only twenty minutes pushing. You were flying out like a spitfire and so is your personality. A wonderful little firecracker that dances through her days in whatever dress you have been fighting to wear that day, come rain or come shine, and as the “shoe -queen” of the family, there are many nights where I have to sneak in and take of your shoes that you mysteriously have gone to bed with.

Both of you fill my days with ……WORK! It is tedious, it is annoying, it is aggravating, frustrating funny, mysterious, wonderfully fantastically so. And I wouldn’t change it for anything. Do I have days of ‘THIS-IS -TO -MUCH-FOR ONE-PERSON-TO HANDLE’? Oh yes I do. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Do I yell at you at times, put you in the cool down chairs, on the thinking pad, do I discipline you firmly, Oh yes I do. And that is what I know.

Camilla, we have from the first minute of your existence been close, I feel you, you feel me, it is therefore so much easier for you to get under my skin and push my buttons. Yet it is also so much easier to understand you in your different moods. Even through hard times, I remained close to you and with that I refer to my father’s death, to my post-partum depression and other things that happens in life that can be hard to handle. But you and I always stayed close, you are a caretaker, yet I don’t let you take care of me, I do acknowledge you but it is my responsibility to take care of you. I have had the experience of a mother that let their children become there caretakers for the wrong reasons and it is a hard burden to carry for a little girl. You heart is definitely in the right place Camilla and you are such a fantastic aware, sensitive little girl, a sensitivity that I do respect and although I protect you and try to let you understand your feelings and that it is okay to feel it all, I do not enable you, I do let you see the real word, in an age appropriate way. A little girl that now is turning five and I am wondering how could that of happened so fast.

Olivia, when I was pregnant with you, I became extremely depressed, I was fighting hard for my sanity at some points, and I made a conscious effort to protect you from my feelings. One reads about how mothers feeling states affect the child in the womb, I believe that can be true, yet I also believe that when you are aware of that, no matter what you go through, you can protect your child in your womb, from ‘picking up the tab’ from what is going on that is outside the child’s power, and that I did. I protected you from my depression; I sneaked in times with you when I talked to you in the shower how much I wanted you, yet I was a bit disconnected cause the depression was overwhelming. When you were born it was more work for me to completely click with you the way I clicked with Camilla. But I didn’t turn my back on you, I felt my feelings and did what I had to do, I knew I loved you as much, it was just clouded by difficult emotions.
Olivia, your father become your number one caretaker and it hurt me a little bit but your sister was still needing me a lot and she experienced sibling rivalry. We did our best as a family and I saw that besides nursing you, you would prefer your father’s company, it tore me, but it was the truth and it was the reality at the time, and in hindsight it wasn’t so bad, why can’t the father be the preferred one, what was wrong with that. As long as someone was connecting with you, something an infant needs for future health, nothing was wrong with that, although I would never give up on you.

I went to get some help and treatment for my depression and I slowly but surely worked myself into you, and one day I was in. You called for me when you got hurt; you came to me for help and for hugs and kisses. I was lying on my side and you stood still with you warm tiny cheek towards mine for a moment that can’t be translated into earthly time. I could hear your breath, we where completely still. Finally you said ‘My Mommy, My mommy” gave me a wet kiss close to my lips and then, off you went again. A sweet smile bestowed my lips. Things had changed; it was going to be okay. And now three years later I believe we are all equally in love in our family, yet in different ways with the same meaning. I love my family so much.

Camilla and Olivia,

Youth for me was tough, I was left home alone a lot when I was three, and I was neglected and mentally abused I was raped and alone, but I was tough and I survived all of that.

Yes I survived all of that and more, and you make me live.

When I first had both of you my main concern was,’ Could I break the chain of the abuse?’ or would that come up when I was faced with motherhood? It did BUT I did not act on it, I didn’t neglect and abuse you, I was more of the other side of the pendulum, overprotective and I was terrified of losing you. I got help, I went to therapy I read books about it, I used everything I could until one day a woman in the profession of therapy told me, “Congratulations you have reach your goal, you broke the chain.”

That was the proudest day of my life after giving birth to the both of you. I skipped down the 10th ave  home and was welcomed by your arms and in my head the words, “I have broken the chain’’, ”I have broken the chain”.  The two of you couldn’t possibly understand me, yet you could see mommy extremely happy, and I was, and I am. I was happy for us, you deserve it so much; any child deserves it so much.

Camilla and Olivia, there are days when you see me very sad still, and you ask me “What is the matter mommy?” I tell you the truth, I say,  “Mommy is feeling sad, and it is not your fault.” For me there will be some hard feelings to deal with for a long time, how long depends on my own healing time and nobody knows but God. Yet it will never be your fault, it will never be taken out on you and I will never give up no matter the intensity of the pain.

This is okay.  I put things in perspective, you are two very well adjusted children, and you have always had the truth, the love and care you deserve. Will you be affected by my past and my sadness?  Maybe, maybe not. It is a little bit of a sarcastic trend to blame your parents for all bad, until one day when you realize you are doing it to yourself. What is important now, is now and we do it together.

And it is a little bit of trend to worry about your children, let me correct that, it is natural to worry about your children, yet it is the  “guilt trips” that can get to us mothers and fathers. Do I give you a little to much sugar here and there? Do I at times let you look at to much TV? Yes I do. Do I fell guilty about it, yes, sometimes but then I did have a conversation with a smart sassy and very well adjusted young executive at Saks Fifth Avenue .She told me that she grew up, glued to the TV.  Nothing bad happened. She is wonderful.

Did I eat too much sugar when I was young? Oh yes, I was crazy about it, and I have definitely had some struggles with my sweet tooth, but ‘My God’ I had so much more pain and anxiety and trauma going through neglect and abuse.

Do I worry about your health and do I fear things, raising you two sometimes, Yes, of course I do, when you Camilla, were hospitalized for a week for pneumonia and probably the flu, I was completely traumatized and still am just thinking about it. Olivia I constantly, in the end of the day, go back and calculate what and how much you ate. Cause you are sooooo picky, and I have to stay on top of it.

Balance. Balance  Balance

Sometimes I go overboard with worry but then I pull it back to balance and use a whole lot of common sense. And if I don’t have any common sense at the time, I borrow it for a moment from somebody that I know has it. I call my cousin in Sweden a lot and borrow hers and her husband’s common sense, when you Camilla or you Olivia are getting sick. They have three girls.

Have I given you to many toys? Have I overindulged you in this world of 2008? Yes, I have, but now I am catching on and stopped cause I did not like the effect it had on your appreciation and I also saw your little brains spinning with all the stuff in front of you last X-mas, so this X-mas we pulled back.

Although, this X-mas my husband decided it was a good idea to buy you and your sister each a ‘Baby-Alive’ doll, the one that eats, drinks , pee’s and poops.  Darn! I spent my X-mas holidays discovering the advance technology of 2008, running around taking care of you, your sister and two baby-alive’s demands. For mouths, saying ‘’I am hungry”, “I am thirsty“,“I am pooping“,“I am peeing“,“Change my diaper”. And then, the Baby- Alive only eats and drinks special doll food, so when we had gone through all of it, the next day I refused to go and buy more stuff for them and you Camilla got upset because they were still hungry, and on top of it when you saw the poop, you throw up all over our carpet because you thought it was too gross. I did turn them off in the back, and told you guys that the Baby-Alive’s were extremely tired and needed to sleep, and then I made sure to give my husband the see-what-I-mean-glare, cause I did tell him that we could of bought you a camera that you wanted for so long. Well at least I got a taste of having four children and since I have been thinking of having one more, I did rethink it after that experience. So now the Baby-Alive dolls mostly just sits there, $50.00 each doll, just sits there.

Camilla, you move me. The moment that moves me is times like, after your last party when you turned four years old, You said ‘Mommy, I just want to be together with my family “Innately you are so wise and smart, and when I ask you what you wish for, you say ‘be together, the whole family just be together. When we pray you always pray for your friends and family and you say thank you for all of us. You think and feel your friends so much and you care so honestly for everyone all ready at such a young age. You are amazing Camilla.

Olivia, you are an old soul, you know your stuff, and now almost three years of age, you have imaginary friends and you dance and you dance and you dance and I can watch you for a long time, how you move and take in the music in your body so naturally. You can sit forever and make up stories and you too love to be together. You ask us every day “Can you play with me for five minutes?’’ And at three, five minutes means five hours and you will not give up until you get your way. You are so beautiful inside out.

I had a nightmare a couple of weeks ago I dreamt I lost my whole family; you were gone, taken from me. I woke up crying, grabbing my husband, feeling him there. Then I ran into your room to see that you both were there and you were, I wanted to write, “of course you were”, but I didn’t. There are to many nightmare stories played out there in the real world with real people that this has happened to. And it is out of respect to them that I won’t write  “of course”.

Instantly I knew the message of my dream, PERSPECTIVE, appreciation of what I have.

One week later I had a similar dream, this time the two of you were gone and we couldn’t find you, your father walked into my room with a pale face he looked at me and all I said was, “They are gone aren’t they? They are gone.” He nodded his head, “yes”.

I woke up in complete shock. Again I ran into your room, wondering why this dream again, I got the message the first time. I am still not sure about the second dream, yet I think that our deep deep conscience brings up a mother and a father’s deepest fear at some points in our lives. I believe we always know that we can change perspectives on our lives, and sometimes our deepest place will remind us. These things that are hard to think about and even harder to talk about, to say out loud.  Even hard to write about. Because we love our children so hard and deep and there is no perspective on that for a parent.

I have heard the expression ‘It is easy to become a mother, yet hard to become a parent” This rings so true to me.

The two of you are truly loved and appreciated and it will be interesting to see when you read this in fifteen years or so, what kind of little ladies you have become and are becoming.

This is a letter for the future, written from a heart in the present.

Now my loves, it is time for me to end this letter and go and kiss your sweet little sleeping faces.

I love you, I love you I love you,

Your Mom.

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