So, in less than a week, my daughter is turning two. It is really surreal to me that she went from this little, helpless meatloaf to this walking, talking, running, beautiful ball of chaos and energy. And it couldn’t be more amazing to have seen her become the little girl that she is now. When she turned one, I was pregnant with my son and I was emotional and crazy and thinking that she was no longer a baby was so bittersweet to me. She was growing up so quickly before my eyes. She was no longer interested in being held and cuddled and I was no longer the center of the universe to her. There were things to explore, things to see, things to destroy! She was starting to become a little girl. She was a person.
Looking back, I guess that the progression from meatloaf to little girl wasn’t as quick as it seems now. After all, my son is almost one now and I am going through all of the same things with him, just minutes it seems, after I have experienced them with her. They are both such wonderful babies. I mean…kids. Because, they aren’t really babies anymore, are they?
I’ve always been really scared of not being enough as a parent. Terrified, even, of not being able to be a good role model for my little girl. I want so desperately to raise her in a way that she will be respectful. Not only of other people but of herself. I want her to know her worth. I want her to see the value in other people and to embrace differences in those people and to know that all of these differences are what make people special. What makes them beautiful. And I want her to see beauty. I want her to experience moments in life that take her breath away. I want her to be able to sit back and have those moments without hesitation.
There are so many things I want for her. So many things I want to teach her. And so many things I know she will teach me. I am still terrified. Every day, as I watch her grow, I think about the things that we will face in the future. All the questions she will have about life and people and (gasp!) boys. And I hope that I am enough. I hope that she will come to me. I hope we will have the kind of relationship that I never had with my mother but am starting to build in my thirties.
I made a list, a while back, of things I wanted to tell my son. And I have had a running list of things that I want to tell my daughter and I just haven’t gotten it right. What are the important things that I want her to remember? There are so many. SO MANY. So, here goes, in honor of my baby who is no longer a baby.
- Be true to yourself. There will be times in life when people will want things from you. They will pressure you. Don’t let them. Stand your ground always. I know that telling you this could bite me in the ass someday. But, even if I don’t agree with you, if it is important to you, it is worth it.
- Know your worth. Don’t ever let anyone try and belittle you. You are amazing. You are so amazing that there could only be one of you. Remember that.
- You are beautiful. Don’t spend your time obsessing over the size of your thighs or the number on the scale. In fact, don’t even use a scale. Look in the mirror and know that you are exactly as you are supposed to be. Everyone has flaws but those flaws make you perfect.
- Be nice to other women. Women can be a tough crowd. They can be critical and ridiculous, but most of this, I believe, is a result of their own insecurities. Know that you might be the victim of this, but also know that you don’t have to perpetuate it. Be the kind of woman who lifts others up.
- Be the kind of friend that you want to have. You will make a lot of friends over the course of your life. Some of them won’t be very good to you. You can’t help that. But you can surround yourself with people who deserve to be around you. And you can be the kind of friend that you want to attract.
- Don’t take your family for granted. This one is hard to remember. Your parents and grandparents love you more than you could possibly understand. But we won’t be around forever. Don’t let yourself forget that nothing is more important than family. You can’t go back once they’re gone.
- Volunteer. There will come a time, probably when you are a teenager, when you will think that your time is too precious to be spent doing anything other than what YOU want. You will be wrong. Make sure that you make yourself of service to people who need you. Your time is the most precious gift you can give. Believe me. You will thank me later.
- Dance. Just dance.
- Find something you love. I hope that you will find a passion. I hope that, whether it is skiing or singing or underwater basket weaving, you love something. And you do it with your whole heart.
- Love. You are going to fall in love dozens of times. It will be magical and wonderful and exciting. And sometimes it will break your heart. But don’t let that stop you. Love with everything in you. It is worth it.
- Stay away from girls named Tiffany. Seriously. No good can come from a friendship with a Tiffany. (Examples: here and here.
- Be fearless. Wear red lipstick even if you think it makes you stand out too much. Apply for a job you aren’t qualified for. Ask that guy out. Jump out of that plane. (Okay…maybe not the thing about the plane but just because I will NOT be fearless about you doing that.) Whatever you do, know that you will ROCK THE HELL OUT OF IT. And then rock the hell out of it.
- Be gracious. Always.
- Fight for a cause. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
- Know that your mother thinks you are the best gift she was ever given. You made her a mother and you changed her life. Forever. There is no better thing in the world than you. (And your brother, obviously.) Just know that I will love you forever. I will support you in everything. And I don’t care if it turns out that you want to ask the GIRL out instead of the GUY. She’d be lucky to have you.