Here is a letter to my daughter on her first birthday.
Dear Little One,
Over the past year I’ve watched you study things I’ve never noticed, try out a voice you didn’t know you had, see the world from new angles every day, exert your independence, let me know when you still needed me, fall and dust yourself off without a fuss, smile at people even if they didn’t smile back, travel to unfamiliar places, celebrate milestone after milestone, learn how to communicate what you wanted, touch and taste and smell and hear and see the world in a way I haven’t considered.
It’s hard to put into words just how much a tiny human can change your life. Everyone always says that, but until you experience that change you have no idea what this love feels like. Everyone says that too. Mostly because it’s true. I think it’s one of the greatest human truths.
Even if you open up your heart like hands cupping water, you can’t contain all of the love. It will fill the extra space and still more will slip through like water trickling, escaping the tiny cracks between your fingers. There’s. that. much. love. And in my case, that love is for you.
You are you. You are your own person, but you are also the sweetest and most real, raw, and beautiful part of me. You are the best and most true, genuine, and wonderful part of your Daddy. You are the parts we didn’t know we had in us. The parts that we don’t use nearly as often as we should.
That word “should.” I’ve become too familiar with it. It’s like that old pair of boots I know I should throw away but never have because they’re just so comfortable, even in all of their falling apart mess. I hope “should” doesn’t become the old shoes part of your vocabulary. Don’t wear it. Instead, slip into “can” and “will” and “want to.” Lead yourself into a more empowering interior (and exterior) dialogue.
I want you to know that your ideas are powerful and so are your words. Your choices matter and it’s okay to say no. You can’t choose your emotions, but you can choose your actions. You can learn from your mistakes, and it’s ok to change your mind or ask for help. You are learning and growing every day, even when you’re in a 105-year-old body.
And when it comes to your body, I want you to know that you have the first and final say about who touches you. That’s true when it comes to family, friends, doctors, and significant others. That’s true when it comes to hugs and high fives, kisses and tickles.
No matter what anyone tells you or makes you believe, you are valuable. But you are also imperfect, and honey, that is ok. It’s more than ok. It’s real and it’s beautiful, and it’s so very human.
I love watching your personality grow and develop. I love watching you filter the world like a prism, putting your smile back out to shine on. I love watching you be you.
Happy birthday, my love. Stay kind and curious, my sweet.
Love always and forever,
I hope you enjoyed reading a letter to my daughter on her first birthday. Let me know in the comments below what elements you decide to include in your letter that I didn’t think about!