A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Baby Girl,

As you have seen already in your short 9 years and 10 months, life can be really awesome and really sucky. There will be people who are always by your side and others who seek to hurt you just for their own sick fun. There will be people who want to use you and people who love you no matter what. The harsh reality of life is that you will get hurt at least once, if not more than that. I would like to help you avoid some of the pain I have endured because I didn’t have the same level of confidence I am trying to instill in you.

You don’t owe anyone anything. Not money, not a hug, not a smile, not even the time of day. No one should make demands of you without your permission. If some old dude tells you to smile, you have the right to ignore him, tell him to fuck off, or go off on him. You don’t have to be nice to anyone just because. If you are minding your own business and someone invades your personal space, you don’t owe them that. You can push them out of your personal and mental space. Your space is yours alone and I have always enabled you to make the decisions about who is in your space. I have never forced you to hug anyone, even family members. You also do a great job asking for hugs with your words and not just wrapping your arms around someone, like your brother does. (We need to address consent with him again.)

No is a complete sentence and you get to say no whenever you want. You can even say no after you previously said yes. This applies to everything from doing favors for friends and family to future partners who want something from you. Your consent is not something that you have to freely give. If you start something that you feel uncomfortable finishing, you can say no and stop whatever that is. And no, you aren’t responsible for the pain that may cause someone. Your comfort comes first, always.

Society will tell you that if you become a mother, you need to sacrifice yourself always for your children. In a way that’s true, but in another way, it’s just a shitty martyr narrative that we tell each other to compete. You will want to make sacrifices sometimes and sometimes you should not sacrifice yourself for someone else, even your children. Sometimes you will need to be the best version of yourself for your children, which means taking care of you. My hope is that you will find a great partner who supports you in all you do, and doesn’t force you to make all the sacrifices. But if you want to be alone, that’s my hope for you too.

I hope that you continue to show me who you are, who you want to be, and what your gifts are. So far I have learned that you are kind as your default, but you aren’t afraid to be unkind if you need to be. You will defend your brothers to the end, and you aren’t afraid of anyone if they are messing with your brothers. You love animals and have a nonverbal way to connect with them. Dogs in particular love you. You seem to calm them with your presence and they love you so much. Your feelings get hurt easily and you often shut down when that happens, but you are getting better about communicating that to me. You are a fierce, fighter, with a kind spirit.

In summary, you can say no, you don’t have to smile, you don’t have to make sacrifices that you don’t want to make, you get to decide who comes into your physical and mental space, and you love animals. Keep loving hard like you do and don’t take any shit from anyone. You are awesome and I love what you have shown me so far. Please don’t ever stop!

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