Today sees the start of a new monthly feature of the blog: Letters to my daughters.
My youngest is about to turn 8 in a month and my oldest is 9 1/2. We are in that stage of their lives where hormones are coming into play, friendships and schoolyard relationships are tumultuous, changes are happening every day as they rapidly grow in every way. Our conversations are no longer about Peppa Pig or preschool, but about big questions like child birth, hair dye, gay marriage, death, boys and body shape.
I find it easier to express myself by writing (us introverts hate to have to think on the spot) so sometime last year started toying with the idea of writing a series of letters to my girls with advice, my feelings, what I feel they need to know as they enter these choppier waters of tweendom. As a blogger I of course thought it would be even better to share them publicly to spark conversation, help each other on this often challenging (but oh so rewarding) parenting journey.
To my beautiful girls*
You are both such amazing children and I feel blessed to be your mother. You are truly a gift to me.
I can hardly believe how many years have passed and how much you have grown. I still remember so clearly the moments when you giggled, walked tentatively, explored and played as little girls.
Who you are now is still so clearly linked to who you were when you were babies and toddlers. As much as you have grown and changed and matured, there are still so many things you say, ways you act, things that are in your nature that have been there from the very beginning.
I know that in the years since you started school things have not been smooth sailing. You have both faced issues of being excluded or dealing with friendships that were not good for you. As I said to you then, friends lift each other up, they do not make you cry every day. While most friendships have difficult moments, I want you to see the difference between that and friendships that are rarely easy.
I want you to always remember that you are wonderful as you are. If others do not see that or appreciate it, then that is about them. They might not be meant to be your friend. Do not sell yourself short. You deserve to be surrounded by the people who want you to be happy, want to be with you, and accept you completely.
What makes you “you” is your gift to the world. Don’t ever dim your light for the sake of others.
Lulu, I love that you put together your own outfits and have done so since you were about 10 months old – literally refusing to wear something I picked out for you. You would bend and twist to make it impossible for me to put something on you. Then you would point at what you wanted. As you got older you would simply change clothes when you felt the urge. You put together three different striped items, and mix patterns and colours to suit your moods.
Alice, I love that you feel comfortable doing your own thing at your own pace. For years I would watch you and your sister play with shared friends. Often you would stay engrossed in the first activity you all decided to tackle – be it art, dress ups, or watching a DVD. The others would move on and you would stay. Then when you were ready you would join them only to find them moving on soon enough. Again you stayed and finished your time without feeling the pressure to drop it and run just to keep up. Now at 9 it means you might sit and draw for an extra hour while they play or you might retreat to your room to read some books – trusting they will welcome you in when you want, but not worrying.
Always stay true to that part of you that tells you your way is just fine.
We are all different and too often we take the easy path and follow along with what everyone else is doing or what the strongest person says to do.
Trust me when I tell you that the people who follow and do what they are told will always do so – even as adults. Be a leader, stay true to yourself and find the right path for you.
It does not mean you always have to be different or can’t get along, it just means that you should think for yourself, make your own decisions, and be prepared for making hard choices sometimes. I would rather you be authentically you and stand alone than see you follow others blindly just to have an easier journey.
Trust me when I tell you that you are indeed wonderful girls and those instincts you have, those ideas and creative spirits,are precious and need to be honored.
Stay authentically you.
*I often call them “beautiful girl” and I know there are some people who would say not to focus on beauty, but in this case they know it is me referring to them body and soul – they are beautiful beings and my message to them when I call them “beautiful girl” is one of love rather than appreciation for their external beauty. I would not normally annotate my own thoughts, but this IS the internet and I am pre-emptively explaining myself.
Find your simple,