To my beautiful, spirited, and soulful daughter,
I know I often forget it, and I think you do too. You’re only three. Three, which is basically as long as a slow blink. In the midst of the household chaos, our tight schedules, the meltdowns and the arguments about who is boss, it is easy for the days to pass by without recognizing how well you are managing in this big, scary world so far. You will be off to school in September, will learn how to zip your own coat up and how to read and write.
I love watching you grow into the kind, smart and beautiful woman you are meant to become. It’s also difficult to watch, because I know that I will not always be able to protect you. Someday it will be out of my hands. While life is full of such wonder and joy, life also has a nasty habit of throat punching you if you don’t pay attention.
All I can hope, as any mom can, is that I am able to instil in you the strong values, beliefs and morality needed so that you can learn to traverse this world relatively unscathed. As my first born child and only daughter, it is scary to think of letting go. You are only three, and already you are saying things like, “No Mama, I can do it myself”. Before you grow up before my eyes, I want you to know everything I have learned along the way on becoming a woman. A strong woman. Because that is what you are intended to be.
1. You Need To Put Yourself First
As a nurse, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife and a mommy of two, I know all about caring for others. I have chosen my career and life path because I love being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives. However, I can tell you from my own experience of having caregiver burnout, that before you go out and save the world, you will need to care for yourself first and foremost.
In addition, being the helper that you are, you will need to make a concerted effort to ensure that people do not take advantage of your good will. A relationship’s positivity should always travel both ways, and when it becomes one-sided you may need to say your farewells and move on. It’s not selfishness, but rather self-preservation. A fact of life. Do not let anyone discount how important you are.
2. Take the Time to Find Out Who You Are, Become Who You Want to Be, and Don’t Change
Before I figured out who I was, I tried to be everything to every one. It was not an enjoyable experience for anyone involved. Spending some time alone during your teenage years will save you a lot of time and heartache in adulthood. Try not to change who you are for your rocker boyfriend, your so-called best friend with shady morals, or to win a popularity contest. You are perfect just the way you are, and if you resolve to be yourself, “your people” will find you. Doing so will make you 1000 x happier than if you had pretended to be someone else in order to stay within a much desired clique.
3. Time Will Heal All Wounds, If You Let It
Throughout your life, you will endure a lot of heart break and misfortune. Everyone deals with negativity in their lives, but it is how we decide to let it effect us that really sets us apart. What seemed like a cataclysmic event as a child or as a teenager will become a vital life lesson later on, providing that you give yourself enough room to heal. Yes it hurts. Yes it’s not fair. Cry. Vent. Learn your lesson. Forgive yourself and others. Move on.
4. You Do Not Owe That Boy A Thing
I don’t care if he sends you flowers every day, writes you love notes at every recess or orchestrates a candle lit dinner in the park for two, you will never owe him anything but a simple “thank you”. No matter how nice he is to you, it is always your choice to give him your kiss, tick the “will you date me?” box, or to say the L word. If you give in to him, then you will feel powerless, insignificant, and you will not like the consequences.
It’s unfortunate that I have to discuss this at all, but such is the state of our current society. Always stand up for yourself because if you don’t, boys will think that they can take advantage of you and you will eventually begin thinking that they should. Your body, mind and soul are exactly that. Yours. Trust me, it will feel so much better when you give something to him because you genuinely want to, not out of guilt or necessity. There really are boys and men out there that will view you as an equal. Wait for one, appreciate him and keep him.
5. Love Is Not Something To Be Taken Lightly
Love is the strongest force on Earth, and we could do with a lot more of it. Sometimes it sweeps us right up into it’s gravitational pull and there is nothing we can do about it. I will never tell you that you are too young to be in love.
However, as difficult as it is to control yourself while in love, it is vital that you assess the situation on a regular basis. Are you respecting each other, or are you playing games? Do you both feel the same way? Are you being yourself? Are you a better person when you are with him/her? These are all important questions to ask yourself before you are swept off your feet, things blow up and people get hurt. Falling in love is great, but falling out of love is the absolute worst. If you’re the one that falls out of love first, please be kind. If you do #1 & #2, you will know when great love comes to knock you over. When it does, let it.
6. Never Let Someone Snuff Out Your Light
Sometimes people will be mean to you, and it will appear to be for no particular reason at all. They will be jealous of the way you light up a room. They won’t agree with your point of view. They just may decide that they don’t like who you are. There will be nothing you can do to make everybody happy, and trying to will just exhaust your flame. Find what makes you shine, hold it tight and do not let it go no matter what people say or do to tear you down.
7. You Really Can Accomplish Anything. IF You Have The Drive, Accountability and Patience
I have read that my current generation has been done a great disservice by being told that we could be anything as children. It has been suggested that the people of Generation Y have entitlement issues, resulting in disappointment and crushed dreams.
While this accusation may have some merit, I still believe that you can do anything you aspire to be if you work hard. Really hard.
Luck may always play a minor role, but you need to be driven when things get tough and you want to quit. You need to take accountability that you are the one in charge of your own life, the good, the bad and the ugly, and you need patience because things don’t always go as planned at first. Work hard, be a good person and you will eventually reap the benefits. If you pay now to benefit later, the meaning of your life will be at your choosing.
8. Appreciate the World Around You and All Living Things
You can tell a lot about a person in how they treat animals and people of lesser fortune. As a human being you should always try to be merciful and empathetic to all living things, and treat others as you would want to be treated, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, cultural practices or spiritual beliefs. Pretty simple, but easily forgotten when subjected to the mob mentality or if doing so will make your life significantly harder. In order to become a strong woman, you will need to protect the underdog and always think of how your actions will effect others. There is a strength in kindness that is unmatched.
9. If You Want to Look Pretty, Do it For Yourself
One of my proudest parenting moments to date is when you told me, “I don’t need that make up because I’m already pretty”. Yes you are. However, I will never tell you that make up is bad, because it’s not. You see me put a minimal amount on each day. All I ask is that if you wear make up, do your hair, and wear certain clothing, you do so because it makes you feel good about yourself, and not just to impress others. Women, more-so than men, are blessed with the ability to express themselves through physical appearances, so why not embrace it? If you feel comfortable with yourself inside and out, it will show through in strength.
I know that you are already strong. I also know that I probably needed to tell you all of this more than you needed to hear it. After all, I learned the importance of these life lessons from you, not the other way around. Having an insightful daughter watching my every move has empowered me to become a strong woman who has taken her life into her own hands. Thank you, brave little one. You are destined for greatness.