Today, the reality of the inevitable hit me like rocks plummeting down a steep hill. One day, you’ll no longer be my baby. Figuratively speaking, of course. In my mind, you’ll always be my baby.
The first day I was able to physically see you, hold you, and love you, my life changed in unimaginable ways. I couldn’t fathom my unconditional love for you even though I had just met you.
I remember that night in the hospital. My doctor said my body would ache similar to if I had just ran a full marathon. That statement couldn’t be more true. Soft newborn cries were heard every hour. Although I could barely endure the pain of my own, torn body, I learned how to care for your flawless being. No amount of articles, books, or words of advice can prepare a mother for that first night in the hospital. Through it all, I was certain about one thing from the very beginning: I loved you more than I could describe in words.
You, little one, are the most precious gift I’ll ever receive (unless you have brothers and sisters join this family – then you have to share the title, of course). I wish you a lifetime of happiness, even when happy isn’t an option. My goal is not to give you a perfect life, but a life that is lived, cherished, and worthy. I cannot mask struggles that lie ahead for you, but I can stand by your side and support you.
What I can do is nurture you when you’re sick and fight the monsters under your bed. I can guide you, but I cannot walk for you. I can educate you, but I cannot learn for you. I can be your mama – your shoulder to lean on, your best friend, and your biggest supporter.
Today, I watched you admire your favorite toy. You lifted your dark beaded eyes, assuring I noticed you admiring that toy. You smiled when we locked eyes. Before I knew it, you had precariously walked across the room to lay your head in my lap. I waited to see if you’d scan the room and be fixated on something else, other than myself. The answer was evident when your eyes burned a hole right through me. I picked you up and cradled you. You rested your head on my shoulder and wrapped your tiny arms around my neck. I couldn’t help but wonder how much time I had before you’d push away and want something or someone new.
That’s when the emotions flooded over me like waterfall.
How much time do I have? How long do I have before she grows up? This little miracle doesn’t even know what she’s doing yet. She doesn’t know how bad I want to hold her in my arms forever.
Down the road, you won’t as little as want me to pick you up or cradle you. You probably won’t belly laugh when I perform a full dance routine in front of you. You won’t want mommy to sing to you as we rock “nugh-night” every night. It will no longer be “cool” to dance with me in the middle of the living room for no reason at all. I definitely won’t be swooping you up and swinging you from side to side to fade your cry. And when you fall down, a kiss won’t heal your “boo-boo.”
Eventually, I won’t be with you every day of your life. I wish I could, but that’s not how this life works. So, I want you to take a few things with you when you enter adulthood and fly out of our nest. These “things” are pieces of knowledge and advice I’ve collected throughout my life.
What I Want My Daughter to Know as She Grows Up
- What other people think of you is none of your business. For the most part, this life is filled with lovely, caring individuals. Sometimes, we stumble upon the paths of people who are unlike us. Hurtful words will transpire out of the mouths of people closest to you. Unhappy individuals use degrading words as a manipulation mechanism. Please know your worth, do not allow yourself to focus on the opinions or words of those who do not have good intentions. Keep in mind you will never win an argument with people who enjoy arguing. Walk away, honey. What others think of you is none of your business. Dehumanizing words from others represent their character, not yours. Some people are mean, but don’t surround yourself with those people.
- Surround yourself with those who respect you. This is an important one. I’ve spent my fair share of time around people I believed were my “friends.” I write this in quotations because they criticized everything I did, or spoke spiteful words about me. Don’t hang around those people. You’ll immediately sense if someone is a genuine person or rather, the opposite. It’s important to know you should never be subjected to question if a “friend” is genuine. Go with your gut instinct and listen to your heart. Surround yourself with people who allow you to be yourself. The friends that love you for being weird, or humorous, or quiet, or whatever you want to be – develop friendships with those people. And don’t let them go. The people you surround yourself with contribute to the components of your own character. “You Become Like the 5 People You Spend the Most Time With. Choose Wisely.”
- You do not need a man to make you feel beautiful. Alright, sweetie. I’m going to make one thing VERY clear to you. Yes, your daddy makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He’s wonderful and I love him so, so much. He’s not the reason I feel beautiful, though. Of course, he boosts my confidence with his kind words. When I’m lacking it, your daddy paints me a pretty picture of everything that makes me, me! He didn’t “man-make” my beauty with his big, strong hands. And by beauty, I do not solely mean outer appearance. I’m referring to your inner beauty and all of your unique components and qualities differentiating you from the rest of the world. You’ve developed characteristics by nature AND nurture. Does a man assist us in feeling more attractive? I suppose one has that ability. However, your beauty (inner and outer) shouldn’t rely on a man. Your beauty shines through your intelligence, words, emotions, actions, and personality. You are capable of creating your own beauty; don’t let someone else control that. You have control over your own life. Create your own beauty and happiness, sweetheart.
- “I’m your mama first, your friend second.” I put this one in quotes because the expression is not my original. Your nana told me this when I was in high school. Back then, I never understood the reason for this. I’d often say to her, “c’mon mom… I’m X years old… Why can’t you be my friend? I’m almost an adult!” And this phrase was always her response followed by, “You will not respect me if I allow myself to be your friend right now.” She made sure I knew right from wrong, good behavior from bad, and respect from impertinence before confiding in my teenage behavior. Abiding by her daughter’s wishes because, “every friend of mine is best friends with their mom,” was not an option. My mama taught me respect and discipline by being my mom first and friend second. You see, at the time I thought your nana was mean; she didn’t want me to enjoy my final years before adulthood. What I failed to recognize (until after I left home) was she actually taught me more about life than the friends I compared our relationship to at the time. If you recognize my authority, treat myself and those around you with respect, and obey your father and I’s house rules, THEN I will be your friend. I’ll take you on shopping trips and we can eat somewhere a bit more fancy than Subway. I’m here to teach you how to be a good person, the world will thank us “mean moms” for that later on in life. Be the sweet, humble girl I know you are capable of and we will have no problems.
- “It’s really OK for there to be times when you stop putting everyone else first and just do what’s best for you.” – Tracey Leech. Another quote from someone else, but I couldn’t resist – it’s too valuable for you to not know. Although we are taught by example at a very young age to be kind, caring and thoughtful to everyone we meet, you should never neglect yourself. Do all things out of love, but there will be times when you need to put yourself first and not feel guilty for doing so. If you don’t know how make yourself happy or take care of yourself, how will you do the same for someone else?
- Don’t compare your journey. Every person’s journey is different; you will not walk the same path in life as anyone else. Sure, you’ll compare yourself to others, and that’s OK from time to time. Don’t let the comparison make you feel less of a person because your choices differ. All walks of life exist on earth; there’s a reason for it. Life would be boring if we were all the same.
- You WILL make mistakes. Mistakes are bound to happen. Whether small or life altering, they’ll be made. Always hold yourself accountable; Be honest. Mistakes are a part of human nature – EVERYONE makes them. Don’t let anyone fool you or lead you to believe they’re perfect human beings. It’s impossible. Mistakes allow you to grow. When you realize you’ve made a mistake and you learn from that mistake, you strengthen your integrity. Once you make the same mistake twice, it no longer remains a mistake – then it’s defined as a choice. Learn from your mistakes and they won’t become unwanted habits. You’ll grow mentally and spiritually.
- It’s OK to say “No.” If you don’t feel comfortable completing or implementing something, DON’T. I’m a firm believer in personal freedom. But, if you feel disrespected or you’re uncomfortable with something, say “no” – don’t feel bad about it. Just say “no.” Period. No explanations, no excuses, no regrets. This is called being disciplined and grounded with yourself. Unless I’m asking you to do the dishes or pick up your room, you have the freedom of speech.
- Don’t forget to love yourself first. YOU determine your happiness. Smile often, laugh a lot. Be happy because you’re actually happy. Don’t let anyone shed darkness on your light. If you live the rest of your life allowing others to determine what makes you happy, you’ll never happy with yourself. I am here to support you, to teach you how to love yourself, and set an example for you. I’ll help you every step of the way, but even I can’t determine your happiness. Make sure you maintain healthy habits. Learn the value of a dollar and luxury items won’t be the measure of your happiness level. Love yourself, my sweet girl.
- Appreciate the “little things.” We often underestimate how much power the “little things” hold. The “little things” meaning: a hug before you leave, a walk in the fresh, crisp fall air, studying at a coffee shop, baking for no reason at all. Acknowledge the little things, sometimes they have a much deeper meaning than presented. Be grateful for what you have. To feel appreciated is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Mama’s got you. Daddy adores you. Be yourself, love yourself, and never give up on yourself. I will always be here for you, for anything and everything, through thick and thin. In times of despair, I’ll comfort you. I will cross heaven’s gates for you. When you fall, I’ll help you stand again. As long as your daddy and I are living, you won’t ever be alone. I’ll protect you to the best of my abilities from harm’s way. I’ll love you longer than my last breath. Laughter is the best medicine – overuse it.
One last thing, you are enough. For the people that respect you and love you, you will always be enough. I love you, sweet pea.
Let’s be friends!