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Baby girl, I love you.

I love your enthusiasm.

I love your energy.

I love your ideas, your imaginings, your big plans.

I even love the way you fall apart in a heap when the plans don’t work out as planned.

I am afraid you probably don’t feel all my love today.

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I’ve spent so much of this day suggesting, asking, instructing, and even begging you to be quieter. It wrings the very core of me . . . I want to teach you to embrace all that you are. I want you to never allow anyone to diminish you, make you feel like you need to be smaller, less enthusiasticquieter.

How do I explain to you, my precious 6-year-old, what the constant loud sound does in my brain? Most days I keep it managed, but days like today are so hard. It all came apart so innocently, like it always does.

The constant chatter, the benign bickering, the singing songs in different keys at the same time, the dogs barking, the microwave beeping . . .

Mommy struggles with anxiety, sweet girl. Noise triggers me, especially chaotic noise.

When the anxiety raises its head, every sound is magnified. Focusing on a simple task, like the grilled cheese in the skillet, seems impossible. My vision tunnels. Every fiber of my being wants to scream for silence. I want to cover my head and sob. I want to run away.

“Sissy, can you turn your volume down?”

“Please use a library voice.”

“Sis, look in my eyes. I NEED you to be quieter.”

I can’t keep the edge out of my voice.

SNAP.

I see the wound in your eyes. It kills me. Baby, I’m sorry.

I truly need you to be softer. I’ve come so far with managing it, but the anxiety is a part of me. I will never be able to make it go away.

Beloved daughter, please know I need less noise, not less you.

I wish I knew how to make you understand thatnot just with your mind, but with your soul.

Even when I need your sound to be less, I don’t want you to be less. The world needs your enthusiasm, your big ideas, your dancing and singing and happy playing. More to the point, I need your wholly loud, beautiful self.

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You help me see the beauty in the world. You’re always stopping to look at sticks or rocks or bugs (even though you hate bugs). You insist on keeping the movie on through the credits so you can dance to the music. You shout and yell and growl and bark and make such glorious noise. I love how you sing. The expression you use when you read is fantastic. YOU are fantastic.

I hopeI prayI show you every day how special you are. I have anxiety and that’s my issue. Not yours.

Part of living together in a family is working with each other’s weaknesses. I hate that I’m weak at all, but all humans are. We’re also resilient. I hope you can learn at least a little bit of resilience from me. I promise, when I ask you to turn down the volume, I always mean the literal volume. Never your personality.

I love you.

When I ask you to be softer, I love you.

When you are raising the roof, I love you.

When I can’t stand another sound, I love you.

And every single day, I want you to live loud, baby girl.

Live loud.

Kathryn Liber

Kathryn Liber is a Midwestern mother to a boy who loves books and a girl who loves dirt. A lover of words, coffee, and good food, if she isn't reading, writing, or speaking words . . . it's probably because her mouth is full of something delicious!

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