My sweet daughter, I know you have only been on this planet six years, but I already feel the world trying to pull you from me, trying to yank your childhood out from under the both of us. In light of this, I make you these promises.
1. I promise to encourage you to love your body. I promise you will never hear me utter the words “diet” or “fattening.” You will never hear me complain about my weight or my looks. (Even when you point out the lines around my eyes, I will always tell you they’re from laughing.) I won’t ever let you complain about your body, either. I will not have it. You are healthy. Nothing else matters. NOTHING.
2. I will never tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. I’m so proud to see you stick with basketball. Even though you’re sometimes the only girl on the team and no one passes to you, I love to watch how ferociously you guard your opponent, and how fast you run the length of the court. When you scramble for the ball, my heart soars. I promise that I will always encourage that fire within you.
3. I will never let you be the mean girl. I don’t EVER want to find out that you’ve purposefully excluded someone, or acted in a hurtful way to another person. This world is too harsh, particularly to little girls, and if you are participating in making another child feel inferior, I will make sure you never do it again. I am speaking from experience and love.
4. I will shield you from the misogynistic world of advertising as long as I can. I know I can’t keep you innocent forever, but for as long as I can, I will keep you away from magazines touting weight loss secrets and magic firming creams to maintain your youth. Your life will be spent dodging the media’s messages that you are not beautiful, so I will protect you as long as I can, until your skin is thick enough to deflect their vicious attacks.
5. I will always encourage you to live large and loudly. That does not mean you can be disrespectful, but I want your voice to be strong and confident- your words matter, make them heard! I don’t care how crazy your idea is- share it with passion and claim your place in this world.
6. I will never tell you to “put on a little lipstick.” I hope you never look at your beautiful face in the mirror and think it needs makeup. But if you do, it won’t be from my influence.
7. I will keep you a little girl as long as I can. Remember how mad I got when you attempted to twerk with that tiny heinie of yours? I don’t care that you learned it from the girl on the bus, it’s inappropriate. Too many girls grow up too fast, too soon. You will never have this time again- so take all the time in the world to play with dolls and dream of horses and sparkly fairy dust. Let the magic of your imagination sustain you as long as you can.
8. I promise to listen to you with an open mind. I want to hear your dreams, your opinions and your perspective on life. I love seeing the world through your eyes. It may not always be practical (or even sane), but I’m continuously amazed that I helped create a human being who has the capability for so much silliness, intensity and wisdom. I know we’re going to have some incredible debates over the next 50-odd years.
9. I promise to love you no matter what. No matter how many times you tell me you hate me through your teen years, I will remember that you have raging hormones and that you have, unfortunately, inherited my temper. I can’t promise I will sit silently when you unleash your inner bitch, but I promise to hug you close every night and forgive you for your transgressions.
10. If you didn’t get the message already, I love you to the moon and back. I take my job as your mom seriously, and for that reason, I am putting these promises in writing and ask you to hold me accountable to each of them.
All my love,