Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Be Brave, Be Happy

Dear Ainsley,

Today you are five (and two days - we had so much fun Monday that I never got around to posting this, and last night, well - let's just not worry about the sleep issues for now).  Five.  Five years since I was handed the most precious little girl and told to go raise her.

Raising a little girl is wonderful.  But also...scary.  I've been a girl for almost 35 years and I'm still not really sure what this world expects from us.  We're supposed to be sweet and likable, but not too sweet or likable because then we're pushovers and sending the wrong message.  Society tells us to be strong and ambitious...but again, not too strong or ambitious because then we're bitches.

So it's not easy to know what to focus on.

I remember sitting in your nursery when you were so tiny.  I was rocking you to sleep and I was saying little prayers in my head.

Please let me be a good mom.  Please let me show her how to be stronger than me, smarter than me, kinder than me.  Please let her laugh more than me, do more than me, and go further than me.

When you have a baby, you have a lot of dreams for that kid.  A lot of hopes and you want her to have and be so much more than yourself.

Sometimes, those signals get mixed.  It's not always possible to teach strength and compassion in the same lesson.  But 5 years in to this whole parenting thing, I think I can boil it down to two things.

I hope that you're brave. 

Not necessarily brave in the sense of saving the world or throwing yourself in front of a speeding bullet.  Being brave doesn't have to be such a grand gesture.  Brave is that little thing you do to push yourself just a little bit further.  Brave is sharing your sandwich with the kid who forgot his lunch.  Brave is standing up for your little brother.  Brave is saying "I love you" when you feel it.  Brave is raising your hand in class. 

I've seen you be brave.  I've watched you introduce yourself to kids on the playground.  That's brave.  I've seen you dance on stage in front of lots of people.  That's brave. 

I want you to hold on to that.  Be brave enough to believe in yourself.  Be brave enough to do what's right, even if it's not easy.

I hope that you're happy. 

Happiness doesn't mean you get everything you want.  Happiness doesn't mean you're always right or you always succeed.  Being happy is being okay with you and your choices no matter the circumstances.  Happiness isn't fitting in or standing out.  It's not being normal or being different.  It's being exactly who you are.

You are a happy girl.  You never hide your feelings.  You never pretend to be something you're not.  You are you. 

Always remember who you are and you will always be happy.

Five is going to hold a lot of exciting new challenges for you.  It's the start to a whole new phase of life.  You'll be exposed to new things, new people, new ideas.  I can't teach you about all of them.  I can't protect you from everything.  But I hope I've given you the tools to take them all on.

Happy Birthday Ainsley Bug.  I love you,
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