My Darling Daughter,
I can’t believe it, but it’s starting already: you’re coming into your own. At only 2-years-old, I see the whispers of the woman you will one day become. You’re strong-willed, defiant, confident, and bold. You don’t stand on the sidelines like I always did, but run head-first into the room, ready to take on whatever may come.
I love watching your personality unfold and develop, and while your interests, preferences, and proclivities will change many times over in the years to come, I welcome it all and can’t wait to experience every exciting stage with you along the way.
There are some things you need to know and remember when you step out of the house and into the world. You are used to a lot of love and I want you to know that you deserve to get it. Not every person who comes into your life is going to give it, however, so you’ll need to learn to navigate friendships and relationships in a way that keeps your own light burning and reminds you that you matter.
Right now, you’re very sure of yourself and I pray you stay this way forever. But I was a child, and then a teenager and a young woman myself, and I know that sometimes the outside world can cave in a bit on our confidence. Don’t let it. If you are wearing something because you love it, don’t change for someone else. If you have the desire to try something new, don’t listen to the critics but dive right in. (Be safe, though, please! Moms worry.)
When the world gets complicated and the answers are unclear, you don’t need to waste too much time canvassing others for their opinions. Do your own research, be your own guide, and listen to what your intuition tells you. You will not always be right, honey, I promise you this. You will make mistakes, so many mistakes that sometimes you’ll wonder if you’re capable of getting it right. But that’s the important part. In the mistakes you find your pathway to the resolution. Embrace them, forgive yourself, and move on.
Now, this part is very important, so please read it carefully. Your mother didn’t figure it out until years of unnecessary self-doubt and hard moments, and I don’t want you going through even a shred of that. I’ve read that you are not supposed to talk to your daughters about their bodies, but I am going to anyway. I feel that I need to make this part clear to you:
Your body is and always will be perfect and enough. That body walks, runs, gives bear-hugs, and learned how to catch a ball — any ball, every time — at only 2-years-old. That body will grow and change, it will evolve to adapt from child to woman. It is not going to look exactly like all the other bodies around you and that’s a good thing! We each get our own and they’re all different.
I want you to wear the things that make you feel good about yourself and do the things that make you feel even better. Find your passions and use your body to make those things possible. I would love to picture us doing yoga together side-by-side in 10 years from now, but if you’re into soccer, rock-climbing, running, cooking, or needlepoint I’ll be right there cheering on what you love.
Please don’t fall victim to the ridiculous, punishing standards of beauty that still, shamefully, exist today. My heart is very hopeful as many companies are embracing models and “real” people of every size, color, and shape to advertise their products. But we need to do better, we all do, and that starts inside.
Your mother spent years listening to the mainstream media and convincing myself that happiness was found squarely in a pair of size-zero jeans. I cringe to think of all the fun things I missed out on, including heading to the beach with a group of kids and eating a much-deserved, hand-crafted treat when it was offered, because I was afraid of looking fat or gaining weight.
Don’t be afraid. Be grateful. Be grateful that you’re here and you’re beautiful as you are. You’re enough, and you always will be. Your body will change in remarkable ways, stretching, strengthening, growing, shrinking, as you go through the various stages of your life and travel on your own journey. Always remember that it is perfect just as it is. Don’t try and change it for anybody else.
Take time to slow down and enjoy your surroundings. Find comfort and joy with the people who love you for who you really are, at your core. If you marry, do so with the person who understands, accepts, and adores every “flaw” you have. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Cry whenever you need to. Work to change the things you see as unjust or wrong in this world. Be an ally to those who need one. Speak the truth even when it’s hard.
And most importantly, love yourself, honey. Love yourself like I love you. Cherish your precious heart, strong mind, and beautiful body. Keep a photograph of yourself in your wallet like I learned to do, so when you are out in the world making choices you can open it up and glance at that face to remember who you need to take care of. Be who you are on the inside, all the time. And don’t forget that it’s okay to change. Don’t forget that you deserve all the love in the world, and make sure that you get it.