We have not met yet, and we may not meet for quite some time.
But there are some things I would like to tell you, while I am thinking of them, and before I get too busy delighting in your smile, and your tiny fat fingers, and your solemn eyes, and the way you smile at caterpillars, because they are your friends.
You will always be an odd child, because you were born from a sunbeam, conceived in a daydream in a garden one spring evening.
There are some things that I have been thinking of, for a long time, and I am worried that life is going to rush by, as it has begun to do.
First, life will begin to rush by, my dear.
You will not remember to pause, because you are young and your heart is pulled by the tides, as mine was. But take note, and every now and then, stop to look around the shore.
I am afraid because I am still learning to pause, and if I do not now, I will not have a chance to remember to write this down, a chance to remember how I feel today, and how I felt when I realized I couldn’t wait to meet you.
You were a tiny inkling in the back of my mind for years, daughter. A spark of light, that became an ember, that warmed into a glow, and my heart was happy.
There are many children in this world, dear daughter. And I want you to know, in your bones, that you are a wanted one.
I want you to know this, because it took me a long time to discover.
And I hope, someday, that it takes you a long time to discover what you want out of life, as well.
There are many paths, and many doors, and so many possible yous, my dearest—do not settle into the easiest one, do not open the door that is closest, or be the person that your best friend thinks you should be, or choose the life that seems like it makes everyone else happy.
You are a miracle brought forth from the abundant grace of the universe, sown with love and breathed into this world with pure joy—your life is your own, and it is for you to discover, and experiment, and play.
Always play, dear daughter.
Life is a railway. The good runs alongside the bad. The glory and the grief will often overlap, and, sometimes, there may be little time to figure out which way is up.
Both ways are up.
Cry, and laugh, and sing, and yell, sometimes, if it feels good.
Do both, and all, and revel in the feelings.
Revel, because life can be rich and it can be messy, but, more often, it is good and precious, too.
Don’t miss out.
On any of it.
You are not us, your family, although you have come from us, whether biologically or simply from our love for you. We are here to support you. To guide you. To honor your unique experience, as you test the waters, and push the boundaries, and begin to find out who you are, inside.
(you are love).
We are here for you. Work with us. Don’t ever lie, for you will never have a reason to hide. Don’t steal, because you will never have a reason to cheat.
Let’s be open, and honest, and talk about the things that your friends and their parents don’t talk about—it may be awkward, and weird, and sometimes your dad will blush, and sometimes you may wish you are invisible, but I promise you, daughter, that we will all always be grateful that we talked, and that we are close.
Let’s eat popcorn, and watch movies, and tickle daddy, and play board games in our pajamas, and talk about what you learned in science, or about books, or about why some people are born in India and some in America and why some people go to sleep hungry.
Let’s be silly.
Let’s talk about it.
Whatever it is.
And by the way, I don’t care what Sally’s mom said.
If you want to do something, we will discuss it.
But not based on “Sally’s mom.”
Stay a child as long as you can. I don’t mean just for me, because you are my baby and I am selfish, and I will miss you when you are grown.
(though I will).
Stay a child, because you will grow up soon enough.
You will wish you are older, and being young will become tiresome, and boring, and impossibly gauche.
I did it, too.
And then one day I woke up, and my childhood was gone.
I had wished it away.
I wanted to be a grown-up.
Fancy. Adult. Mature.
Wearer of lipstick, attender of parties, lover of all the fabulous things.
Being a grown up is wonderful and fulfilling in many ways.
It also kind of sucks.
Enjoy your youth.
You will get older.
And you will have the experiences you crave.
Enjoy each one, savoring their sweetness until the last bit is gone.
Some, you will get to taste again,
And that is why, dearest daughter, you must be mindful.
Because you will not know which one is which, until one never crosses your path. Ever again.
Be a nice girl. I know it can be difficult, especially when some girls, or boys, are bullies, or make you feel bad, or sad, or confused, or small.
Be nice anyway.
They may be sad, in their hearts. And they don’t know how to say it, with their feelings, so they say it with mean words.
Be nice, because they need someone to be nice to them, and because being nice always feels better than being mean back.
And I promise that you will get through this.
Come home to me.
And we will talk.
And take a walk.
And it will be ok.
Because you, my daughter, were born of the sea.
Daughter, there is a place inside of you that nothing, and no one, can ever touch.
That place is joy.
The love you were born in, and of, and from.
She sits with you, always, shades you and protects you with the willow trees from the garden where you were conceived.
You are perfect.
Lovers, friends, people, the world, your own lovely heart, they all may hurt you.
But this place.
She is untouchable.
She is always there.
Find your peace there. And hug yourself, and her, tight.
Daughter, go on adventures.
Leave home, and travel, as much as you can.
We will love you, and support you, and encourage you, all the way.
I will miss you, certainly, but more, I will delight in your flight.
In your bravery.
In your choices.
My heart will be full of the life you have, and the one you are making, every day.
I did not give you life, for me to watch, to worry, to hang on to.
I gave you life, for you.
Use your wings, dear daughter.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum