Dear newborn daughter,
From the moment you were born, the comments have been about your looks. Yes, you are beautiful, especially to your mama and daddy. But you should aspire to receive feedback about talents you honed, earned, and sweated for, rather than just your looks. Be dazzling. Be brilliant. Work hard. It’s not enough for you to be pretty. May being pretty matter less and less as life presents you with more interesting pastimes. Strive for brilliance, curiosity, devotion, passion, truth, humor, skill. There will still be room for pretty. The beautiful package (and it is beautiful) will be that much more precious if it’s filled with many unique gifts.
“Smile!” will be begged of you by strangers on the street and friends alike. I give you permission to scowl, growl, reflect, cry, muse, sing, smile, wince all you want. It’s your face showing your heart. You do not owe the world a phony grin because we only want our girls to be happy.
Learning you were a girl brought on sighs of shopping for pink frills by well-wishers. I was assured of being thrilled. You were, according to some, a balance for your brothers. According to others, “girls rule, boys drool.” I cringe, as you might if you have sons someday…or daughters.
I hope you mix your Hermione Granger with some Judy Blume and a whole lot of Kurt Vonnegut. I hope you watch Doctor Who and Star Wars and Murphy Brown. Please cast a wary eye at the Kardashians and Twilight books and Real Housewives of Where Ever.
Women are funny. You can be more than the nurse, the wife, the exotic dancer in your scenes, if you want. You can even be more than that mythical “Brilliant Hooker.” Be the surgeon, be the husband, be the strip club owner, be the President.
You can be the ingénue, you can be the side kick, you can be Tree Number Seven.
There’s a lot to be said for being an alto. There’s a lot to be said for a cappella. Don’t be afraid of a solo.
I hope you learn to spike, field, kick, bat, dribble, run.
Pink isn’t bad, but pink isn’t all. Pink softens and dazzles. Pink is fine. Sequins are usually not.
Shout Holy Yeses as much as you can. The scary things teach and (if you’re lucky) inspire awe.
Don’t be afraid not to be liked. Be afraid of those who excuse rudeness.
Jump. Jump high.
Have energy. Know when to stop.
Math isn’t hard. Math takes time for some people. Invest that time. It’s ok that there are right and wrong answers in math. There are right and wrong answers in the world sometimes.
Learn languages. Learn public transit. Learn to say “no, thank you”.
Be careful about using the word “bitch,” and please avoid the c-word. Other women are not your default enemy.
Embrace your femininity as a great part of you. Embrace masculinity as a great part of men. Men are not your default enemy.
Learning to be concise is a gift to you and others. Listening is a greater gift.
The word “cute” really stops being a compliment after a certain age.
Worry about your health and feeling good, not about if you look fat. Indulge sometimes.
Raise an eyebrow or two.
Stay my baby for a little longer and know that I would keep you wrapped up in my arms forever if I thought that would make you a better person…it wouldn’t, but it would sure feel good. Whoever you turn out to be, whatever advice you do or don’t take…
I love you.
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