My beloved Natasha,
You’re only two years old now, and the world seems so exciting and bright and wonderful to you. I wish it would stay that way forever, and that I could protect you from the things that will hurt you one day. But I know that’s not what life is like.
We lie in the rocking chair as I soothe you to sleep with songs that my great-grandmother once sang to my grandmother, and you smile contentedly as you feel the warmth of my body and the beat of my heart. It feels like the safest place in the world, but I know you won’t be in my arms forever; that one day you’ll be a teenager, and we’ll fight, and you might even tell me that you hate me, but that will be the time when you need me the most. To grow into yourself is often a painful experience.
I realize that even though I look at you and see the most beautiful child in the world, that one day you will look in the mirror and feel close to tears as you examine every perceived imperfection. Statistically speaking, you’re unlikely to know how beautiful you are. I know that cruel words in the playground will hurt your heart sometimes. They say “sticks and stones will break my bones,” but in my experience, nothing hurts more than words.
I know that because you were born a girl, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that you’ll experience sexual assault, and a 1 in 3 chance that you’ll experience the hell of domestic abuse. I will try my best to help you beat the odds, to keep you safe, and to teach you to keep yourself safe.
I know I can’t wrap you up in cotton-wool and shelter you from reality, because sometimes life is unfair, and sometimes it just plain sucks. But you still have to live it. I will be scared watching you go out into the world, just like my mother was before me. I’ll pray you make less mistakes than I did, but I also pray that you will learn from the mistakes you make, and that they will make you stronger; that the bumps in the road give you resilience. I hope that when you fall in love, you will always have the confidence to believe that you deserve happiness and respect. I hope that you will cultivate a loving heart, but won’t let yourself be taken advantage of.
I will always try set a good example for you. I know I’ll make mistakes sometimes, but I will do my best to be a loving, kind and supportive mother.
I look forward to you blossoming into a woman who believes in herself, who shows compassion for others, and who brings light into this world.
With all my love,
The author to this story prefers to remain anonymous, but I think she presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about the not-so-joyful parts of motherhood. It’s scary to think about our children growing up and becoming adults, making adult choices. We think of our own poor choices and we worry about the kind of people our adult children will meet. But that is life. We cannot keep them babies forever. At some point we have to let them go, free to pave their own paths, and learn from their own mistakes. It’s our prayer and our hope that we have prepared them well for the life ahead.
Can you relate to this mother? Are there just as many fears as you have hopes for your children’s futures?