Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A letter to my future daughter

Dear Future Daughter,

I don't yet know your name. I don't know what state you come from. I don't know your story. I don't know what you look like. I don't know what kind of bad hair days you have.

There is just so much I don't know about you.

...but still... there are more things that I do know.

I know you that I love you so much already. I know that will never again know a day without that boundless love. I know that you will never have to navigate how to grow into a woman alone. I know that one day you will be my daughter. Not foster. Not sort of. Not kind of. I know one day you'll know that you are chosen. Cherished. Mine.

I know that I want you to learn to love yourself. I don't want you just to say that, to tweet it, to post selfies on Insta with clever and inspirational captions that project that to the world before you learn to actually believe it. You can't just say it to propel a fake reality that you love yourself. You have a lot of work to do to get there. You must become comfortable with yourself, your body, your gifts, your talents, your personality, your flaws, and everything God created you to be. It is better to be admired for your character than your beauty. Self-love and self-respect are two incredibly important tools I hope to give you.

In case I ever forget what it was like to be sixteen in a crisis that feels like no big deal to adults, it's ok. It's normal for these years to be hard, even under the best of circumstances. You didn't come from the best of circumstances. I know and promise that even when I fail you, and I will, I promise I will always, always, ALWAYS keep showing up. I will always try again. I don't pretend to know that you will always reach for me when times get hard, but please know that I am always there when you need me. Even though there are struggles you'll go through all alone, I promise you that you don't HAVE TO. I am always an option. In those like awful minutes when you feel crushed by the weight of the world, I know that you will always a mother that will do whatever you need. If that means reminding you to breathe, lying down and hold you through it, going to get a pedicure, or putting on war paint and fight for you, I am willing. It's ok to feel pain sometimes, that means you are alive. And I thank God you are alive.

Someday when you grow up and move away from me, I won't be two rooms away anymore, but I am a phone call away. I will FaceTime or text or give you space to figure things out for yourself. I know I will do whatever you need.

Late nights have a way of making you feel like you're either on top of the world or crushed by it. Please don't turn to alcohol or drugs or boys to drown out the pain. Pain can swim; pain floats up through our coping mechanisms. You'll solve nothing trying to drown your problems; they're resilient little boogers and they'll remain through unheathly decisions. You'll only add more problems and pain to your list. Climb into my arms. You're never too old for me to play with your hair, hold you, or rub your back.

I know from experience that rock bottom is terrifying. I clawed myself apart until I hit... what's lower than rock bottom? When I was a teenager, I searched for peace in ways that made me feel anything but. I reached for all the wrong things and shut out all the right people. I'm lucky that your brother and your dad are the best possible outcome from a long line of stupid and selfish decisions. From my time working with at risk youth and the homeless, I know not everyone's rock bottom ends up getting tied in a pretty bow like mine. I pray you never find yourself in that situation, but if you're at rock bottom, I'll be there for you. Our family saved me, and we will save you if you let us.

I pray for the rape culture you are forced to live in. I know I will give you tools for self defense so you can walk home safely at night. I know I will teach you to dress in a way and style you like; anyone that doesn't like it can get over it. TO HELL WITH ANYONE that says she who wears a skirt was asking for it. I pray I can raise you not only have the self respect to say no, but not feel ashamed for that. No is so much powerful than yes. No sets you free. No puts you in charge of your own will. No puts you in control. No puts you first. Saying no now will lead to paths where you can excitedly DECIDE to say yes to only things you want.

Saying no now will open doors for your dreams to come true later. God has big plans for you, baby, and I pray I teach you to dream and pray for HUGE things. Crazy things. Unreachable things. God gifted you with talents He didn't give to anyone else, so you can reach things that were unreachable by anyone else. Life is tough, but so are you. You can do hard things.

Don't ever be ashamed to be you. If you hate baseball, don't pretend to like it for a boy. If you make more money than him, that's only a deal breaker if HE has issues with that. When you first meet that boy and have that first incredible kiss, don't let the fireworks show and the chemistry blind you from the rest of his qualities. I've personally dated more than one boy that perfectly explains why they name devastating hurricanes after people. Don't allow them to become your sun, because as much as they light up your world, they can shut it off most of the time and leave you freezing in the Arctic Circle alone. Waiting for that day that sun comes back can be an addictive merry-go-round that is impossible to come off of if you're depending on him for light and warmth. That kind of relationship is not love, and it can make you want to die. Don't depend on that boy that is only good at kissing and making the chemistry-induced fireworks go off. Depend on your family. Depend on your best friends. But mostly, depend on your God. He is a light that will never fade on you.

I know that it's ok to be single. You don't need a relationship or marriage to be complete. You don't have to have kids to be a whole person. You can be a whole person and be single, but you'll never be alone. Even if you're sitting alone at the table, I want you to be comfortable in that. Sit and drink your coffee and bask in the silence; don't drown in it. If you find yourself drowning, reach for your life raft--if that's your family or a girlfriend or a bible verse, just promise me you won't withdraw from those who love you.

If you find that person you want to spend the rest of your life with, remember that a whole lifetime is a long time if he doesn't have character or if your relationship isn't healthy. I know your daddy will be there to give you away, and I pray he is worthy of how magnificent you are. I pray it's a healthy love. A love that make you feel alive and safe. A love that makes you feel cherished and propels both of you to be better.

I know no matter what, I will always love you. No amount of eye rolls, door slams, or "I HATE YOU!"'s can change that. There may be times that you think I'm ruining your life. In the times that you think I'm controlling, too invasive, all up in your business, overprotective, or any other way annoying, you're going to find love at the root of it all if you look hard enough.

I know there are times you will fail. You won't always make the right call. That is ok. Mistakes are the most brutal of teachers, but my word do you learn. I know you'll learn more from your failures than you ever will your triumphs. There will be times that I know you're going to fail, and I'll stand back and let you. You must fail in order to succeed, and I wouldn't be doing this whole parenting thing right if I bubble wrapped you from every failure. I would be doing you a huge disservice if I protected you from everything.

I know I will do my very best to teach you a basic understanding of right and wrong. I don't know what your life will look like, but you'll blossom into your own person and it will be a pleasure to be along for the ride to watch it all unfold.

If you don't know anything for certain, know this: we love you so much already. We can't wait to meet you!