To my daughter, as the last day of your first year rolls into the first day of your second.
The moment you entered the world, you changed it beyond belief. Never, in my wildest of dreams, could I have predicted, as they placed you on my chest – a brand new human being – the difference you would make. You had so much to teach me – and now, as I recover from the hazy first year and prepare to raise you to become a woman, I have much to teach you.
If you are unhappy, the power for change is within you. It requires courage, but I know you have it inside you to change the world, in the same way you changed mine.
You are independent and strong; that much is already clear. Be gracious and kind; know your own strengths, and recognise the strengths of others. Be ready to lead, but be willing to follow.
Celebrate winning with humility. Commiserate losing with grace.
Never tell anyone that they are a lesser person for their age, race, gender, sexuality or lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re lesser for those factors. Remember that who we are is defined by what we say, what we do and how we act. Their comments say a lot more about them than they do about you.
Your head and your heart are at war constantly. Sometimes, your head is right, but your heart’s suggestion is more fun. Sometimes your heart is right, but your head’s suggestion feels safer. As for how to choose which one to follow… you’re on your own there, kiddo. When you figure it out, let me know.
Lots of people will say things that hurt you, or that you disagree with, or that you think they shouldn’t be saying. Some of these people can be reasoned with, or are just having a bad day, or don’t know any better. Others do it because they can, because they’re not nice people, or because their reason for being is to make other people feel murderous. The Sims* was invented for the second kind of people. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as putting the Sim version of your enemy in a room with a fireplace and a mess of cheap, wooden chairs.
It is our job, as your parents, to protect you from scary things. But scary things are a part of life, just like sad things, and embarrassing things, and happy things and all sorts of Things that you can’t really assign just one emotion to. If we were to stop you from ever experiencing these Things, we’d be failing you. What we will do, and what I promise to you now and every night when you fall asleep, is to give you the strength to deal with these Things, the foresight to know that this Thing will not last forever, and the comfort you need when the Thing is just too much to deal with right now.
You will know that nothing is impossible. If I could go the entire pregnancy without succumbing to my desire for a share box of 40 McNuggets all to myself**, you can do anything.
I could go on for ages and ages and ages, about all the things I promise you, and all the lessons you have to learn, but I won’t. I will teach you, and you will continue to teach me. We will learn hand in hand. Please know that this is all very new to me too, so try not to shout or get frustrated – and I promise that if I ever shout, or seem frustrated, I don’t mean it.
More than anything, please know that I and your daddy are so proud of you. Every thing you do, from the huge milestones to the teeny tiny moments that take our breath away, we are filled with pride. You are clever and beautiful, strong and independent, loving and funny, everything we could have wished for in a daughter and more. The world is a better place because you are in it, and I am so proud – prouder than I’ve ever been of anything else – to call you my daughter.
* I realise that by the time you are able to read this, The Sims will either be an ancient relic lost to the decades and you’ll moan at me for showing my age and embarrassing you, or it will have evolved and you’ll drag yourself away from The Sims 20 to give me a thumbs up for being a certified Cool Mom.
** I did, however, consume copious boxes of 6 McNuggets. Never more than two boxes in one sitting though, honest. It was the cravings. Stop judging me.