A Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of Her Birth
My baby girl, the time is almost here.
For 39 weeks you have been part of me and I have loved taking care of myself knowing that it is also taking care of you. I hope you’ve liked the cheese sticks and bananas, the long walks and cozy evenings. Feeling you flutter, then kick, then squirm, then really let the inside of my uterus have it as you try to make room that just isn’t there any longer has been awesome too. Amazement has turned to wonder and then to pride: such a strong, feisty daughter I have! And now the time is almost here for you to take the first step in becoming your own person, your own unique force of nature.
I will miss your constant presence, knowing that you are safe in the dark of me, but I am looking forward to meeting you.
From that moment on and with each breath and blink that follows, you will be more and more you. More and more responsible for your own happiness, your own destiny, your own success and failure. Of course I will be here. Of course I will do everything in my power to give you a good foundation, to teach you what I can, to be the best example I can be. But it will be up to you. I want you to learn that and learn it deeply: you have the power to make yourself happy in a way that no one can ever replace or take away from you. And no matter how much I love you, once you’re on the other side of my belly, I can only do so much.
I don’t say this to you as an excuse, to imply that I won’t be the best mother I can be, take care of you in the best way I can. I will. I promise. I say this to you because I wish I had learned this lesson, had learned the magnitude of my own power in the face of anything or anyone that life might bring my way, my power to create the life I want, so much earlier. I am grateful that now, having learned it, I can endeavor to show you a life lived with grace, centered and sufficient in my own being. This is the grace I want you to learn, the strength I want you to grow in, the happiness I want you to see: all that is within your and only your control, no matter what.
Yes, bad things happen in life, often to good people. Bad things will happen to you, simply because, despite my best efforts, and it will be okay. You can choose how you react to the bad things, both big and small. You can choose to take a longer view, to see the good that swells up in response to bad things, whether it be in the support of helpers (doctors, teachers, first responders), in the outpouring of love from friends and family, in the kind smile of a stranger, or in the strength that it reveals deep in your own self. Strength that you’ll know from then on you can always count on.
But let’s not dwell on the bad things. Life has a way of turning into what you’re looking for. So let’s always look for love, and for light, and for beauty, and for hope. I’m looking forward to holding you. I’m looking forward to watching your daddy hold you. (He’s a good man, but you already know that from his voice and how he holds both of us, warm and close and safe. He’s looking forward to meeting you too.) I’m looking forward to watching you explore and grow and thrive.
Together, let’s look with gratitude, with compassion, with peace. Let’s look for opportunities to laugh big rolling belly laughs and smile contented little smiles. Let’s look for moments to treasure up – moments just like this one, full of anticipation and peace and simple pleasures, like having the snow safely outside and your movement in my belly. Let’s look for ways we can both make the world a better place, ways we can use our skills and passions to add value to the lives around us. Let’s look for joy.
I promise to be the best example I can be for you, to love myself (at least almost) as much as I love you so that you can learn how to do the same. I promise to help you be you, from the moment you’re no longer part of me. And yet, in some way that I can’t fully understand yet, I know you will always be part of me. And I am grateful for all you have to teach me.
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