Dear Daughter, On Your 4th Birthday, This Is What I Need You To Know
I want you to know that you are a really good girl. I mean it.
I know that I am really extra hard on you sometimes (okay, most of the time) but it comes from a good place, I promise. I hold you to the highest possible bar and often forget that you are 4 which is impossibly unfair.
But most of the time, you meet or exceed my expectations. You really do! I know that when you’re young — and probably until you have a son or daughter of your own — you’ll think your mom is an asshole. But I think in the end, you and I are going to have a relationship that’s grounded in trust, self-respect, lots of love, and no baby talk.
I know that you and your daddy have a special bond and like a bunch of things that I don’t like such as Legos, baseball, video games, comics, and superheroes. Right now that makes me sound like a boring sack of marbles. I bet there will come a time when you’ll both like Radiohead, and I’ll feel like an outsider. I’m not jealous, even though I used to be. I think your relationship with your dad is one of the things that will make you grow up being a confident and self-assured woman.
I want you to know that despite the fact that you can be really annoyingly stubborn, you have amazed me with your eagerness to be among the big people and our often mundane adventures because they rarely involve playgrounds, kites, and people dressed as animals. You love going on airplanes and road trips, you are (generally) not stressful at the grocery store, and you’re able to sit through a two-hour restaurant meal with no other children and act like a little adult. Not to mention, you understand the nuances of dry humor! I told you you were special.
You also love clams and eat them with a fierce determination to pry each and every one out of its shell. I like how, when given the option, you will always choose the fancy cheese and the good salami.
I want you to know that I admire your bravery in almost every situation: You aren’t afraid to walk up to a group of girls and introduce yourself, or to ask a big person a question.
I love that when it comes to most things that are unknown to you, your answer is almost always, yes.
I love how you call your baby brother “No-EEE” and your baby sister “Me-Lee” and that you share your favorite food (dried mango) with them. I really appreciate how you never once told me to “send them back.” I know I would have — especially at your age!
I want you to know that if you just stick to being yourself, people are going to really like you. I promise. I hope you never question your best qualities and lose sight of what’s on the inside in lieu of what’s on the outside.
I want you to know that even when I am extra super pissed at you and lose my temper, it’s only because I have a bad temper, but never because I am not proud of you in general. Sometimes, I’m both pissed and proud at the same time, and I haven’t figured out how to handle those emotions yet.
I want you to know that you’re going to grow up and be a really impressive woman, but not because of whatever achievements you’ll achieve (as I am sure there will be many), but because of your good heart.
I hope you know that every time I told you I was working, it broke my heart a little, but that my work makes me really happy. And I hope that your work — whatever work you choose for yourself — will make you really happy too.
I hope you don’t mind that I shared pictures of you on social media. I promise I’ve been really mindful to share only the stuff I am pretty sure won’t embarrass you in the future and you might want to re-share.
As with most things, I like to jump the gun. I know your birthday isn’t for three more days, but I just couldn’t wait.
Love forever and ever,
P.S. I know that I occasionally throw away your stuff without asking, and I know you know. I appreciate that instead of losing your mind on me, you sigh like a 30-year-old woman and say, “Mom, I know you threw it away.” I promise I do the same damn shit to your dad, and it’s another one of those things you guys can agree on.
P.P.S. I’m assuming that by the time you read this — if you read this — you’ll be old enough to know that “shit” is not a bad word, so long as it’s used in the proper context.
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