Dearest girls,

I write to you from years in the past and who knows how many miles away. Tonight I am in the Bay Area, sleeping in the spare room of your Granny Mimi and Papa Phil's house. It will be a quiet night and with a little bit of luck I will even get some sleep. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and drive an hour to Marin County to spend the day delving into Waldorf early childhood education. This is what I do every other weekend: drive nearly 3 hours to spend an entire Saturday away from you and your daddy and then immediately turn around and make the 3-hour drive home. Tonight, Ophelia, I could feel your growing anxiety about my trip. You became teary and clingy and told me repeatedly that you hate it when I go, that it's boring, that you just want to be with me all the time. You are so earnest in your devotion to me, in your immovable assertion that I am that bit of magic that makes your whole world turn. It humbles me and makes me wonder how I have possibly come to be worthy of such boundless love. Theta, you are queen of the barnacles. I can't put you down for more than a minute before you are reaching for me, telling me in that mighty voice of yours, "I. Want. You. Pick. Me. Up." making sure to punctuate each word, less I fail to understand your seriousness. And god, the way you look at me when you say "Hi Mama," just about cracks me in two. You adore me. I adore you. We are the inseparable trio. And when I leave there are always tears. So so many tears. I try to placate you with chocolate and jokes but inevitably I do walk out the back door and turn around to see the two of you wailing in your daddy's arms. But what I can tell you now, in the safe keeping of this journal to future you, is that your pain, quite perversely, is my relief. You ask why I leave you, why I want to be away from you and of course I reassure you that I don't, that I just can't do the two things at once as much as I wish I could. But it's a lie. I need to be away from you. I need it so much I can feel my body thirst for it. Before you were born, before I met your daddy, I enjoyed many endless swaths of alone time. I happily rented my own apartment, cooked for myself (whatever the hell I wanted- quinoa! quiche! vegetarian whatever! And there was nobody there to complain!) walked to my favorite coffee house and sat writing for hours or just watching the baristas and other customers.  I wrapped myself in a blanket of solitude and although it was comfortable and familiar I longed for company. I longed to be a person amongst people. I longed to share the ripe juicy parts of myself with someone else. Sometimes I would drive to the farmers market on a Sunday morning, cloth bags dutifully slung over my shoulder and walk the aisles and wonder what it would be like to be arm in arm with someone. And then, in what has felt like the blink of an eye, here I am; so very far from being alone. In nearly every way and in every moment, there you are. And you and you. So I'm sorry, darling(s), if the truth is painful (for it often is) but you are not the one(s) I miss: I am.