I was sixteen when I found out I was pregnant with you. I was terrified, nervous and to be honest – a little ashamed. I was not ashamed because of you, I was ashamed because I was only sixteen and felt like I was an embarrassment to my family. The almost nine months that I carried you in my teenage belly was full of ups and downs. But as the months went by I grew more and more excited. The morning sickness was horrible but it was the first time I had experienced it. Your little heartbeat was the first heartbeat I had ever heard aside from my own. Your little kicks were the first kicks I felt. The day you were born I became a mom for the first time at seventeen.
I remember every painful contraction, the feeling of having my water broke, the emotions that ran through me one after another. But what I remember the most is looking into your big beautiful almond-shaped brown eyes moments after you were born. I remember falling asleep together just minutes after you made your entrance. You came in like a wrecking ball – we cried together, you nursed, then we napped. I remember waking up and you had been moved from my arms and into the hospital crib. I remember the panic I initially felt when I woke up and you weren’t in my arms anymore – but then I saw you fast asleep next to me, you looked like a tiny angel.
You were born three weeks early but that didn’t stop you from doing anything. Breastfeeding ended quickly because neither of us knew what we were doing. But you loved your bottle and we still experienced the bonding of nursing by me holding you close every time you ate. And girl could you eat! When you started on baby food you had your favourites but you were never too picky. Then when solids began it was like you were in heaven, sampling everything you could get your tiny little hands on!
You were an easy baby – for the most part. You slept through the night beginning at three weeks old and have ever since then. As long as you weren’t hungry, you were happy. You rarely got into things and did as you were told right from the start. One of your first clear words was please…or should I say “peas”. When you began to talk it was a mixture of baby babble, sounds, grunts and clear words. It was like you had your own language. We had to listen to your whole “sentence” until the end because the last word was always what you were after. You were a wonderful baby, toddler and young girl.
As you grew, you tackled everything as a challenge. You were always early with everything! You crawled early and climbed long before that. You walked by nine and a half months old and not even a week later you were running! By the time you started Kindergarten you knew all the primary, secondary AND tertiary colours; you knew all the basic shapes and even some others like a hexagon and octagon; you knew the entire alphabet and could recognize every letter; and you could even write your full name! Every teacher you have had has adored you and spoke highly of you. You are just a wonderful child to be around.
Now you are eleven years old and heading into grade six. This past summer has been a whirlwind. We started out great but then we hit a rough patch. This summer you had an accident that I truly hope won’t dull your sparkle. I am sorry it happened, if I could go back and shield you from it I would. I wish it had happened to me instead – even though you don’t like hearing that. But that’s another thing I love about you – you are so caring and loving. Even though this horrible traumatic thing happened to you, the scariest thought to you is if it had happened to me or another family member instead. But as your mother, I would do anything to take away your pain. So please believe me when I say I would take it for you in a heartbeat.
I am writing this letter to you – publicly – because I hope that one day you will find it. I’m not sure yet if I will tell you about it or not. But I need you to know these things. Growing up is hard and it sucks. I was very young when I had you so I remember all too well what it’s like at eleven years old. Everything is confusing and weird, you feel happy one minute then upset and angry the next. Your favourite colour changes like your underwear and your taste in clothing, music, and food will change just as quick.
If you are already grown up when you read this, please know I did my best by you. I had no clue what I was doing – no parents really do. I did what I thought was right, and when it turned out wrong I did everything in my power to fix it. I’m not sure if you know your biological father yet (or even want to) but know that the father you do know loves you very much. He may not be biological but he might as well have been. He had no idea how to parent more than me! We kind of adopted him as Daddy when you were about five – maybe six. Since day one you had him wrapped around your finger, all you had to do was ask and you got it. I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing but I know he loves you.
My hope is that you know how much you are loved. Not only by me and your dad, but also by your grandparents, aunts, uncles and the cousins you have. It’s no lie that we have a gigantic family, but they all love you. You touch the hearts of anyone you meet. Your smile can light up a dark room in minutes. Please don’t ever think you are alone in this world – you have so many people there for you. You don’t ever have to tackle anything by yourself, you would have a football team put together in minutes if you asked.
I hope you love yourself. This is the hardest thing anyone has to do. But darling, if you don’t love yourself first, you can’t truly love anyone else. I hope you’ve learned this because once you have, life is so much better. It doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you love yourself. Loving yourself will get you through so much, you have no idea. But don’t trick yourself with mirror games or daily mantras. I will warn you, these are just ways of setting yourself up for failure. Learn to truly love yourself! Go on a walk alone, go for a drive to your home town, watch the sunset, get outside on your own and find yourself. Figure out who you are and then love that person with every ounce of your being. You won’t regret it.
After you learn to love yourself, I hope you can find the one who completes you someday. They most likely won’t be your high school sweetheart as hard as that may sound. And you might go right into your late twenties or thirties before you meet them. But don’t fool yourself – they’re out there. Don’t fall for the online dating apps, they all lie there. Don’t ever settle for less than you deserve – and you deserve the world baby. Meet someone by accident and instantly fall in love the old way. You never know who it’s going to be – it could even happen by finding a lost cell phone in your new apartment’s parking lot. And when you do find that person, don’t let them go. Remember that relationships take work on both ends, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
If I have done my job right then you know how to cook and bake. Use it! Don’t you ever think that take out is better – no matter how appealing it is. Take out or ordering in is just a treat once in a while. Cook and bake for yourself, your family, your friends and even your coworkers. Buy yourself a slow cooker and all the nice tools. Fill your cupboards and pantry with supplies of all kinds. If you have it, you’ll use it! Maybe you’ve stolen my cookbooks? Remember the binder I put together in 2019 of all the recipes I had saved for more than ten years? If I’m gone when you read this, I hope you got that binder (don’t share any of my special recipes with your brothers, they have big mouths).
Be kind to everyone. The young man that accidentally messed up your burger order just made a mistake. The woman with different coloured skin than you bleeds the same red. The old man who can’t see anymore can still feel the same emotions as you. The young girl who seems naïve may know a lot more than you. Every single person on this Earth is the same in some way – we all bleed the same, have the same emotions, and can be hurt. Do not use your tongue for pain or hatred, use it to spread love and kindness. I know it’s hard sometimes – and you will lose your temper once in a while – but apologize when you do, even if it’s a few days later after you’ve cooled off. If you yell at the young man for messing up your burger, go back and tell him you’re sorry and you understand it was only a mistake. Then buy him lunch, he will appreciate it! If you see a homeless person, don’t look at them with disgust. Treat them with honour – they may have fought for your freedom, buy them a pair of socks or if you have the money pay for a warm bed for them for a night – better yet, cook them a hot meal!
I hope you’re chasing your dreams. Whether it’s the painting and drawing you loved so much at eleven or becoming a lawyer like you once mentioned. I hope you are going after whatever your heart desires. When you make a career out of what you love, it never feels like work. And if you’ve listened and learned from my mistakes then you’ll have saved up enough money to live off of. I did a lot of things, I was all over the place when it came to work. Mostly I was the stay at home mom that you probably remember. But before that I was many things – being a waitress in a small local café was my favourite. Even when I was home with my children I was always trying to come up with a way of making an income. I hope you have found your calling and have gone after it.
I hope you are still as close as ever with your brothers. As I write this paragraph, you are complaining about how annoying W is. Just remember they both love you more than anything. Fights and arguments will happen, that’s part of growing up with siblings. But forgive each other quickly and move on. Make sure all three of you keep in touch and get together often. Maybe Sunday night dinner together every week? I always told you that when me and daddy are gone, your brothers are all you have. It’s true you know, sure you have tons of family, but your brothers are the only ones who will truly know you deep down. Don’t lose that with them. Stick together no matter what – and if either of them have horrible girlfriends, chase them away until they each meet a good woman, I’m trusting you! And stick up for each other, everyone needs someone in their corner at all times.
I hope you learn to dance in the rain. Every problem has a solution and if I have shown you anything, I hope I’ve shown you that you can overcome anything thrown your way. Have a cry then wipe those tears, fix your crown and get thinking. If you think hard enough you’ll come up with the solution yourself. If not, ask for help, there’s always someone willing to give advice or help with what they can. And I hope you continue to tackle everything as a challenge as you always have. Never get discouraged.
I hope you never let social media run your life. Likes, comments and shares are not important (unless you’re starting a business). Your personal life is no one’s business. Don’t become so focused on social media that you forget to actually live. Post the pictures, but do it after you’ve done the things – for real, not pretend. And don’t ever fall into online bullying, if you have something to say, say it to their face. But if it’s hurtful, keep that mouth shut. If you have started a business, make social media work for you, it’s a great free tool.
I hope you hold the door open, and use ma’am and sir. Being chivalrous isn’t only for boys and men. If a woman can hold a door open and genuinely smile for a senior, that woman receives a lot more respect and kindness. And there’s no problem with a man holding the door for you but don’t ever let a man believe you need him. Learn to live on your own, open your own doors, be independent. And most importantly here, remember to honestly listen to seniors when they talk to you. Show interest in having a conversation with them when they speak to you. They lived in a world completely different from you and could teach you a few things! But don’t ever let anyone, of any age, tear you down – ever.
Dear daughter, I hope so many things for you. But my biggest hope is that you remember where you came from. I’m not talking about your home town or school. I’m talking about the way you were raised. You were raised to hold your head high, learn from your mistakes, be kind and independent. You were raised to help when you can and know when to say no. You were raised to believe that beauty is not only on the outside and certainly doesn’t mean anything without brains. Be smart, be brave, be courageous my dear daughter.
And always remember, I love you to the moon and back a thousand times more.
P.S. If you’ve stumbled on this letter not long after I’ve posted it, don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I just needed to get these thoughts out somewhere for you to find them in the future whenever that may be. I’m not always good at speaking in person…and you know how my memory is already, I never would have remembered all of this in one sitting!