I can’t believe I’m writing a love letter to my grown daughter. But, here I am, sipping on my morning coffee and wiping tears off my face. I don’t know whether I’m getting drippy and dramatic because I haven’t seen her for a while or because I spent the last night sifting through her childhood photographs and thinking “Where has the time gone!?”
I’m not one to waste my time questioning whether I’ve been a good mother and managed to teach my daughter everything she needs to know to go through life without a scratch. I tried my hardest to do everything right, be there whenever she needed me, and be the person she wanted me to be.
I’m not one to contemplate and consider the brevity of life, either. I, however, can’t shake off the feeling that I’m running out of time to say the things I’ve never dared to say.
“Did I ever tell you just how much I love you, my dear daughter? Did I ever tell you that you are the reason I get out of bed with a smile on my face every single morning? Or the reason I can with certainty claim I’ve fulfilled my life’s purpose?”
I might not live long enough to witness every mind-boggling, monumental moment of my daughter’s life, and that’s why I want to write something she gets to hold on to long after I’m gone. I hope I persuade at least one of you to write a letter to your daughters, too.
Grab your tissues, you’re going to need them.
I love you more than you’ll ever know. I love you with every ounce of my being and every bone of my body. I love you when you laugh out loud because of something crazy you saw on TV. I love you when you cry your sweet heart out because of something that didn’t go the way you planned.
And, even though I never thought I’d be fortunate enough to even become someone’s mother, I’ve loved you from the moment you announced your presence to the world, wrapped your little fingers around mine, grabbed my face, and looked at me with pure love. It was at that moment that I knew my life would never, ever be the same. And I was right.
I’m writing you a love letter because I’m terrified at the thought of you going through life on your own, without me guiding you along the right path, protecting you from everything and everyone set out to harm you, and showering you with affection, adoration, and admiration every step of the way.
I’m writing you a love letter because I’m horrified that I haven’t prepared you for everything you need to know before I’m gone. And, at the same time, here I am thinking how I’m never going to even come close to teaching you everything you’ve taught me.
At the end of the day, I want you to be happy, healthy, and true to your dreams and desires. So, here are a few things I want you to remember even when I’m not there to remind you.
Be compassionate, considerate, and generous.
You’re grown, but you’ll always be my little girl. Because of that, I want you to remember the things I taught you when you were younger – the things we focused on when you were trying to figure out who you wanted to be and what you wanted to do.
Be compassionate, considerate, and generous because these are the qualities that are going to get you through life without regrets. Be compassionate toward your needs, wants, and wishes. Be considerate of other people’s problems and demons. And, be generous with your time, attention, and affection.
We are what we give, and that’s something I want you to think about every time you’re going through something that’s pushing you to say things you don’t want to say or do things you don’t want to do.
We’re all trying to navigate life together, and even though I don’t want you to become a people pleaser, I do want you to treat people with the same warmth you want to encounter wherever you go. And even when you break down, get back up and keep on working toward becoming the person you want to be.
Never stop working toward your dreams and desires, whatever they might be.
I will never forget the day you came home from kindergarten and announced you wanted to become a vet when you grow up because you wanted to spend your life caring for kitties and puppies. Daddy and I chuckled because we reckoned you’d change your mind a million times before you decide on a career path (we certainly didn’t think you were going to do it at five!)
We were wrong. You ended up pursuing your dreams and desires, and that’s the drive, determination, and spirit I want you to keep for years and years to come.
When you’re frustrated because you don’t know what path to take in life, annoyed with everything and everyone because you think you’re wasting your time on things that don’t matter, or thrown to the ground because things didn’t work out how you wanted them to, remember that little girl who didn’t allow the doubters and naysayers to sway her from her ambitions and aspirations.
Understand that life’s too short to spend too much time worrying about what’s on the outside rather than the inside.
No matter what you might think, your beauty’s bewitching. Whenever I catch a glimpse of you running around the apartment, getting ready to go out, and focusing on everything that’s wrong with your appearance, I want to scream “You’re perfect the way you are!”
When you have a daughter of your own, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. We spend so much time trying to teach our children how to dress, how to behave, and how to please others that we forget to teach them how to please themselves.
And, trust me, you’re never going to be pleased with your reflection while you’re focusing on the wrong things. You’re wasting your time questioning whether you need to put more makeup on to make your lips look bigger or work out to make your waist appear smaller – that’s not what matters.
You’re better off worrying whether you’re gentle, generous, and sensitive to other people’s needs. You become happier the more compassionate, creative, and consistent you are with your words and promises. You become more beautiful the more aware you are of your own and other people’s feelings.
Love deeply, and allow others to love you.
One day you’re going meet someone who sweeps you off your feet, makes you question everything you’ve ever known about love, and convinces you that you’re the prettiest thing he’s ever seen. Oh, I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for you to finally experience that feeling.
Love’s great, but not everyone knows how to love or be loved. When you meet “the one,” open up your heart to the world of possibilities that await you.
Whether you’re scared of getting your heart broken or terrified of trusting that gut feeling that’s begging you to give the guy a chance, accept the love that’s coming your way.
Now, love doesn’t come without hardships, hard work, and sacrifice. Love doesn’t come without heartbreak. It doesn’t wait for you to figure out whether you’re ready to take a chance. Love requires you to trust and fall harder than you’ve ever fallen before.
Love takes courage, but that’s not something you’re a stranger to.
Don’t be afraid to say “No!”
And, even though I want you to be open to possibilities and opportunities, don’t be afraid to say no when something doesn’t sit right with you.
Whether you’re trying to get away from someone who doesn’t want what’s best for you or you’re struggling to withstand peer pressure, simply saying no and distancing yourself from the situation can make a huge difference.
As women, we’ve been taught to agree with everything everyone says because we don’t want to appear difficult. We’ve been manipulated to think that we need a reason to refuse something or someone, but we don’t. We’re worthy of saying no to things that don’t serve us.
You, my darling daughter, are more than worthy of saying no to things that trigger your fight-or-flight response. You don’t need to provide a reason for deciding to do what’s best for you, remember that.
Not every problem is the end of the world.
As I approach the end of this letter, I need you to promise me that you won’t surrender when things get tough.
As much as you despise dealing with things that play with your perfectionism (you got that from your mamma!), I don’t want you to go through life thinking that every problem is worth getting worked up over.
At the end of the day, you’re the one who gets to pick and choose your battles. Answer the question “Will this problem matter in five minutes/days/years from now?” and you’ll know what to do even when I’m not there to pick up the phone and make the decision easier for you.
Know one thing, my dearest daughter, I’ve given you everything you need to go through life with your head held high. I will always love you and I will always be there for you.