Dear Miss O,
Today you are 5 years old. How did that happen?
It seems like just yesterday we found out you'd be arriving a few weeks early, and now you've become a beautiful little girl.
Soon you'll be going off to school, and creating a life for yourself that is less dependent on me every day. Your world will expand to include new teachers, new friends, and new experiences that won't include me.
And I think that's wonderful! Somehow I'm actually okay with you growing wings and growing up.
I envy the fun you're going to have, the things you're going to learn, and the people you're going to meet. To you the world is fresh and new, and something to be amazed by. Learning something new every day comes naturally to you because your heart and mind are so open to the wonder around you.
But not everything you experience is going to be happy. Not everyone you meet is going to be kind. You will have to learn this the hard way, by having your heart broken and your trust broken. You will become a little less open, and a little more cynical. You will trust less, and guard yourself more.
People will say mean things and make you feel as though you're not enough, or that you have to change to fit in. They will exclude you. They will be cruel. They will try to lead you to make bad choices, to go against what we have taught you, and you will make mistakes. Lots. And lots. Of mistakes.
Part of me wishes I could spare you from the pain that you are bound to experience. The part of me that wants to rush to you when you fall down also wants to rush to your defense when you encounter mean girls. The part of me whose heart aches with yours wants to protect you from everything bad.
Of course, I won't do those things. I will not keep you from all bad things. I will not prevent mean girls from attempting their mind games on you. I will not spare you from pain and suffering.
Because those experiences have value, too. You will learn how to handle adversity, and become an unstoppable woman. You will handle the mean girls, and become a better person for it. You will have your heart broken, and learn that you deserve better.
We learn more from our mistakes than we do from being right all the time. We become better people when we are faced with those who seek to tear us down. We join a sisterhood of strong, confident, kick-ass woman when we survive our childhoods.
But through all of this, I want you to remember one thing, baby girl.
To me, you are perfect.
To me, you are everything.
There is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, to make me think otherwise.
So I will be here to listen when you need an ear to bend. I will be here to hold your hand when you need a boost of courage. I will be here to wipe your tears when someone breaks your heart.
In me you will always have a safe place. A soft place to fall. A place where you can be totally, completely yourself, even if yourself is awkward, nerdy, self-conscious, unsure, know-it-all, sometimes inappropriate girl who's still trying to figure out exactly who she is.