Original submission by the author.

Welcome to PJP’s newest special project, “Love, Mom.” For this collection, we have invited mothers to share their perspectives and experiences surrounding incarceration. We hope that this project will give you, our reader, a better understanding of the impacts of incarceration on families across the country. To view more pieces from the “Love, Mom” collection, please click here. The transcribed version of this piece has been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Sweet child, 

Baby girl, when Mommy thinks of you and all that you are, I can only imagine the possibilities for you. There are too many to count! I never once thought that we’d be apart. My intentions for you were based on love and joy. I wanted “Mommy” to be the first word out of your mouth, the person you walked to first and the name you squealed at the end of your first day at school. 

But I’ve been absent for so long. I feel like a failure until the next time we speak, and you remind me of your grace. Not only do you speak to me with love and kindness, but I hear the admiration and longing in your voice to be together sooner. In those moments me heart cracks worse than my voice, but I pull through so that you don’t know how much it hurts. 

I don’t think you realize how much you mean to me, sweet girl. I wait for the day I can hold you in my arms, a free woman again. It’s going to be bigger than Fourth of July fireworks, a New Year’s celebration and birthday wishes all rolled into one big celebration. 

I fear that my departure from your life has left you missing a piece or pieces of who you truly are. I fear you have inherited my insecurity, abandonment and neglect. I don’t ever want you to feel as afraid as I did at your age. But you know how much you are loved by me. I tell you all the time. More than that, I try to remind you and instill in you the truth of who you are: 

  • You are a beloved child of the most high God
  • You are deeply loved
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made
  • You are intelligent
  • You are kind and gentle
  • You are brave and strong
  • You are capable of anything you put your mind to

Baby girl, I am so grateful that you have the grandparents you have. They remind you of how much we love you. I thank God that you have shelter, food, clothing and opportunities so you can just be a child. You will not have to know the same childhood as me. I’m thankful that the Lord blesses, favors, protects and shields you from everything and hears my prayers for you.

I believe that our reunion is closer than what is written on paper. I know that it will be an adjustment for both of us. Hopefully we will keep an open line of communication. We have always been good at speaking what’s on our minds. Let’s keep that going. But when we do finally get adjusted — oh, girly, do I have plans for us!

As much as possible, I want to be attached at the hip! Movie nights, manis and pedis, and trips to wherever your heart desires. I want to snuggle with you and treat you like the princess you are. I hope you will still be eager to hang out with your ‘ol mom, considering you’re getting older and cooler every day. 

More than anything child, my deepest desire is to guide you in your growth, so that you may know and understand your purpose. I won’t fuss over where you choose to attend school or who you choose to be, but I will always fight to protect you. I will always take your side and have your back. Nothing will come between us. I love you more than you can know. You are the reason my heart beats. I am beyond blessed to call you “daughter.” 

Amen. 

Love,
Mommy 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Tatiana M. Baker

Tatiana M. Baker is a writer and mixed-race Black mother incarcerated in Washington. She hopes to free herself and her children from generational traumas, and to advocate for other young mothers who have suffered from domestic violence. She is currently enrolled in a bachelors degree program in liberal arts at the University of Puget Sound.