To my sweet Laurel,
Eight years ago today we began our journey together. Never in a million years could I have imagined that life would be what it is today. Never in a million years could I have imagined the joys and challenges and personal growth and reflection that would result from growing a daughter.
In some ways, you’re still my baby. You still love to cuddle. Your dad and Violet and I are still the center of your universe. But I know it won’t always be like this. These days I’ve taken to asking before assuming you want to hold my hand. Your face and body have evolved from cute and cuddly waddling panda (your sister now fits that bill) to long and lean trotting pony. Yesterday you commandeered my phone for a half hour to talk to one of your girlfriends. (And so it begins.)
And I find myself a bit conflicted by it all. Normally I try to stay really positive, but the truth is, I have fears. I have hopes too, but they seem to ride in parallel with my fears.
1. Sometimes I fear that my typical attentiveness has set the bar too high. These days I’ve been flailing a little. I’ve become the mom who misses memos. Yesterday I failed to take photos of your first day of school. I had several moments this week where I almost scheduled things on your birthday before remembering it was your birthday. Today I won’t be cooking or baking at all. Given that I’m leaving for California tomorrow your dad (wisely) convinced me to outsource everything. I hope you know that I don’t always want to be this scattered. And that a store bought cake celebrated with love is perfectly fine.
2. Sometimes I fear that you think I love work more than I love you. Obviously, that is not the case but it is true that I love working. And unlike everyday play, work has deadlines. I hope you know that despite the deadlines, you, dad, and Violet are truly the center of my universe.
3. Sometimes I fear that my impatient moments will stick with you. I’ve had so many demands on me this year and your maturity sometimes makes me forget that you’re a child. I hope you know that I don’t relish those impatient moments. That I’m working on creating more degrees of freedom in my time.
4. Sometimes I fear that your cautiousness will keep you from exploring great things. I hope that I will always be able to remember that your pace is your pace. And it’s moving you along perfectly well right now.
5. Sometimes I fear that you feel too much responsibility for your dad and me and Violet. I hope that you will learn that we are okay, even in moments of discord, and that your job right now is to be a kid.
6. Sometimes I fear that you and Violet will grow distant. That seems impossible right now but given what I have endured with one of my siblings, it’s clearly not out of the realm of possibility. I hope that I will be able to teach you to communicate well and deal with issues and think of the bigger picture.
7. Sometimes I fear that you will look in the mirror and be overly critical of the person looking back at you. I know self-consciousness is around the corner and I am, quite frankly, dreading it. I know we have talked about body image and diversity. I know for sure that we will keep talking about it. I hope you will always see what I see in you.
8. Sometimes I fear that you will not be able to stand your ground with men. You’re so young, but like #7, this fear lurks in my corners, based on my personal history. I don’t want you to suffer the emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of someone who allegedly loved me. I don’t want you to feel like you have no voice if you are accosted by male teachers who are supposed to be on your side. I know I can’t protect you from everything but I hope that I will be able to teach you to stand strong and tall and always know you have a voice.
Clearly, sometimes (often times?) I fear that my issues will become your issues. I hope that the efforts I have made (and keep making) to work through and beyond my baggage will keep you from repeating my past. Despite the fears that parenting has raised for me, I am always, always full of hope. Every day I feel gratitude for what you and Violet have brought to my life, and for the lessons you have taught me.
I love you and wish for so much awesomeness for your eighth year.