Did you ever think about what it would really feel like to have a child? To watch them grow and learn the ways of the world. I am often in awe at their wonder, their pure joy in the magic of life. But all the same I hurt when they hurt, I want to hold them in a bubble of love and safety. But I know that they must experience life – all of it, even the pain and hurt it can bring.
When they are little, all a parent can do is hug them and kiss them when they cry, wishing I could just sit and talk with them, explain it all for them. But alas, the explanations of grown-ups make little sense when you’re five years old.
As they grow in size, their minds expand and eventually comes the chance to talk with them, to really talk and especially to listen. When my daughter was five years old, I started a nightly tradition. I would sit with her in bed and just listen as she talked about whatever she wanted – everything from what she did with her favorite stuffy to something at school. The point was I just listened and she talked. She often asked me to share stories from my own childhood, things she could relate to, things that, I think, made her feel like she was normal, or at least like me and that she was on the right path. I cherish this time and am often surprised at her wisdom.
I recently read a blog – a letter from a mom to her older daughter. It inspired me to sit down and write my own. My daughter is about to be nine and soon hanging with mom might not be so cool. Although I harbor the hope that she will still find the time to sit with me at night and talk. But just in case, I wanted her to have this.
Kids grow up so fast and so much of what happens to them impacts the rest of their lives. I hope she hears what I have to say and it helps soften the hurt that comes from growing up.
My Dear daughter,
You’re almost nine and a pretty smart girl. You’re growing up and gaining a lot of wisdom. Here are some things that I want you to always remember:
- You are loved. Soooo loved! By everyone in your family and so many others.
- You have lots of friends – some will stay with you for a lifetime and many will come and go. This is life. Always be the best friend you can be and if it doesn’t work out, don’t make it about you. You’re a really good person.
- Love yourself. No one is perfect and we always have something we could be better at; sometimes we make mistakes – learn from them and move on. Take responsibility for your part, resolve to not make the same mistake again and forgive yourself.
- Love your body. You are beautiful. You don’t have to be skinny or tall to be beautiful. Beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes. Take care of your body – exercise and eat healthy and you will be beautiful.
- Do the best you can in school and don’t worry so much about what your grades are. Believe in yourself. I believe in you, your dad believes in you, and so does everybody else in that list up there of those who love you. You’re going to be great at whatever you choose to do; the only thing you have to do is believe in yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to work hard. I know sometimes it sucks to have to work hard at something, but if you can work at it, without giving up, you’ll find it gets easier. I promise. But you can’t give up! You’re only giving up on yourself. I will never give up on you and neither will your dad.
- Don’t stress about the cool kids. The less you care about them, the more they will care about you. Don’t ever do anything just because someone else does it. Trust your gut – it’s a really smart gut and will keep you out of harms way. Don’t worry if the cool kids don’t think you’re cool- it’s not because of you- it’s because they don’t believe in themselves. Trust me – you are very cool.
- Don’t be defeated by “no.” You will hear it many times before you hear “yes.” But also know that sometimes no means no and it’s important to respect that. When you respect the no of others, they will respect yours. Learn to know when you should push or when you should respect a “no”. I know it’s confusing now, but with practice you’ll learn to know the difference.
- Don’t just be nice to your brother. Be his best friend, his biggest supporter and his most constructive critic. Be the same to yourself. You will be grateful he’s your brother in time and you will both need each other one day. (You need each other now, too!)
- You can’t change people. Not men, not your friends, not your mother or your father. Accept the ones you want to accept, move on from the ones you don’t (except your mother or your father, of course). You won’t look back, I promise.
- When you feel down, find something that makes you happy, listen to music, draw, write a song or a poem. You are very creative and when you are doing something creative, you will find peace and happiness.
- Know that you are in charge of you and you can choose to feel any way you want to. It takes work to be your own master – don’t let the thought monsters control you! You can control them! Don’t accept defeat, just keep working at it. Even I struggle with those buggers from time to time. Know that it will all be ok, especially if you love yourself and remember that your dad and I will always love you no matter what- you’re never alone.
- Don’t believe the negative thoughts and stories that sometimes pop into your head – they aren’t true. Go back and read all of this again- this is the truth!
- There will be times when you think you hate me, when you are angry with me and there will be times when I am angry with you. That’s ok. Be angry, but be honest with yourself and know that even when I am angry with you – I still love you. The love I have for you can never be broken or taken away from you. It is a constant you can always count on.
- Please know that I am not perfect, no one is and I will make mistakes, too. I promise to always do my best to recognize those mistakes and work on myself. You are my teacher and I am yours.
I love you with all my heart. You and Max are my greatest gifts.