My sweet girl,
There’s no mistaking it: you are my daughter in every way. Before you were born, I wondered if you’d look like me or like your dad. I secretly hoped you would look like me — not because I don’t think your dad is super cute (I do!), but because I’ve always dreamed of having a mini-me. I find it absolutely darling when a little girl looks just like her mommy, especially if they’re wearing matching headbands or boots or dresses (imagine all the photo opportunities we have ahead of us!).
If not for the dated look of old photos, you could mix up our baby pictures and I wouldn’t know who was who. You have my gray-blue eyes, my fuzzy blonde hair, my cupid’s-bow top lip. People comment constantly that you’re a mirror image of me, and that both thrills me and terrifies me.
You see, there are lots of ways I’m still trying grow, lots of things I don’t like about myself, lots of struggles I face that never want you to have to deal with. I have bad habits and troubling tendencies that I want you to be spared from. These are the parts of me I hope you don’t inherit, the parts of me that I’m actively working on now so I don’t pass them on to you.
1. I hope you don’t inherit my anxiety.
To be honest, every woman in our family deals with anxiety, but I don’t believe that means that you will too. I know that chains can be broken on generational struggles, and that a new legacy can begin with any one of us. I’m committed to helping you work through your emotions in productive ways, teaching you to feel fear and overcome it rather than trying to shut it out while it actually festers.
2. I hope you don’t inherit my body-image issues.
Your grandma and I made a pact while I was pregnant with you that we would not overtly or subtly cut down our bodies in front of you. This includes explicit complaints about our thighs as well as sneaky requests to retake the picture “just one more time” so we can angle our bodies in different ways. It’s been hard to make good on that promise already, but I’m trying. I want you to know the freedom that comes from loving and accepting your body, and the confidence that comes from caring for yourself and prioritizing your health. I’ve experienced true freedom from this since you were born, but I don’t want you to struggle until you’re 28 as I did.
3. I hope you don’t inherit my painful shyness.
There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or with being quiet or shy. But when I was younger, I was so shy that I would often get physically sick on the first few days of each school year because I was so overwhelmed by all the change. When people would say hi to me in the hallways, I would sometimes pretend I didn’t hear them, because I didn’t know what to say (it never dawned on me that a simple “hello” would be enough). I never want fear to hold you back from saying hello, making a new friend, and enjoying your life. That said, if you’d rather read a book than have a conversation, I’ll always respect that.
4. I hope you don’t inherit my critical spirit.
I hate admitting this to you, but one of my biggest struggles is jumping to conclusions about other people’s actions and choices, as well as harboring critical feelings toward myself. Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to seek the story before making up my own, to open my eyes to needs that may be unspoken, and to meet those needs myself instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I’m learning to assume that others have the best intentions and to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. I’m learning to be gentle with myself and to show myself more grace and kindness than I think I deserve. I will do my best to model this for you in our relationship and in my marriage to your dad, and I hope you always have an open mind, a compassionate heart, and outstretched arms for all people.
My darling girl, I promise I will always be honest with you instead of trying to hide these struggles or shield you from all things unpleasant. But I also promise that whenever I do share my struggles with you, it will be because I want to help you learn from my mistakes and see the truth about yourself — so you don’t have to struggle the way I have and so you will always know how worthy you are.
And if, despite my best efforts, you still inherit these tendencies from me, I apologize in advance and promise that you will always have a listening ear, a loving heart, and a fellow journeyer in me.
All my love, Mommy