I haven’t written you a letter since before you were born. I think it’s due to being overwhelmed with all the facets of you and motherhood. I don’t want to miss a second, and was perpetually in a state of joy, sadness, awe, and terror for the first month or two. Then, I was in a cycle of preparing for returning to work. But now, I have processed. And I have something to say.
Raising a daughter today (perhaps always, but I’m only now aware) has some pressures. Don’t call her a princess or just praise her beauty, because we want them to be strong and save themselves. Don’t just hope for them to be strong, because princesses can be strong. Don’t let her be a [fill in the blank] because society forces us into these molds and we need to [fill in the blank].
Well, baby girl, I know you are beautiful, strong, and smart. I work to praise your efforts as well as ooo and ahh over your beauty and strength. I hope you don’t like princess dresses too much only because I don’t know how I would relate to that…but if you want to be a princess, I will learn. And if you want to fight alien dinosaurs as a princess while waving a lightsaber, I will be thrilled.
But most of all, above all things, I want for you to grow up to be kind. More than smart, more than beautiful. Each day, I see how this world is stepping away from kindness, focusing on how funny they appear or how they can push ahead by stepping on those around them. In class, I see how quick my students are to judge before understand, to mock before empathize.
Rise above it all, dear daughter, even when it’s hard. Be bravely gentle, unabashedly kind. The world may try to harden you and bully you into being cruel, but turn that aside. Don’t be a pushover; stand your ground proudly and faithfully, but don’t be cruel or harsh.
Every day, you grace your father and me with a thousand smiles. Don’t let that stop as you grow. Smile often, live joyfully. Let your kindness infect those around you.