Last Friday, I got to see you all dolled up in your tutu for your too brief ballet performance at the school talent show. You looked so beautiful, comfortable, and confident. After your part in the show, we watched the rest of the talent show and you stood on my lap and danced as a middle school band played Coldplay.
The rest of the weekend unfolded the way most of them do—playing and fighting with your brothers, watching movies, protesting orders to eat, clean, bathe, and sleep. You saw your grandparents for a couple of hours and enjoyed the pool while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned the house some more.
And then last night, when you hung up after talking to Daddy and his girlfriend, you started asking me all kinds of questions that I wasn’t ready for. I answered them as best as I could and I wonder if I answered them well.
You asked me how I “got Daddy” and I figured out you were asking how we met and I told you that we met in school and you understood that.
You asked me was it hard to get married? And I said yes it was. And you asked how we got you and your brothers. I told you we had you while we were together.
You asked how your grandmother got Daddy and I explained she was his Mommy and she had him as a baby like I had you and you asked if she found him or what?
And I laughed and explained no she carried him in her belly like I carried you and you thought that was hilarious—your eyes shot up huge and round and you giggled like mad. I asked wasn’t it funny thinking of Daddy as a baby? You asked what Daddy looked like as a baby and I told you I didn’t really know, that you should ask your grandmother to show you pictures.
You told me you wanted me and Daddy to live together and wanted to know why we didn’t and I explained Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be happy together.
You asked me how I could get mad at you and your brothers but still love you and I explained to you that you were my kids and I loved you no matter what you did. And I had to explain to you how the love between a parent and a child is very different from the love of two grown-ups.
But I swore to you that I loved you very much and that I always would and I kissed you and hugged you good night and went to tuck in your brothers.
I don’t think you liked my answers because later, I found Missy (the doll I crocheted you) flung in the hallway outside of your bedroom. I tossed her back into your bed thinking you were playing a game and later found her outside again. You never go to bed without Missy. You never go many places without Missy.
This morning, I mentioned I’d found Missy outside in the hallway and asked if you were mad at her. You said yes but wouldn’t tell me why. Then, you told me you weren’t mad at her anymore and when I asked what you were taking to show and tell, you answered Missy and didn’t put her down the rest of the morning.
You are an extremely smart little girl and I can tell you’re working through the whole concept of Daddy and me not being together. I can tell you get frustrated because you want to understand it fully so you can be ok with it but you can’t because a lot of it just doesn’t make sense to you.
I know you like Daddy’s girlfriend and I know you like my friend, but it’s just not the same.
You don’t understand how your Mommy and Daddy aren’t together because all the Mommies and Daddies you see and know are together.
You don’t understand when people are married, they can break up because Princesses never dump their Princes.
You don’t understand love in a gray way and I think you’re scared that if Mommy and Daddy left each other, maybe we’d leave you.
I’m not going to leave you.
I adore you so much. I admire you too, you know.
You’re smart as hell and completely confident. You know what you can do and what you can’t and yet manage to not let that stop you. You know what feels right and what doesn’t. You have no problem asking questions and no problem showing your emotions. I get the feeling you don’t beat yourself up too much.
Sometimes, you scare me. Like last night when I assured you I’d always love you no matter what you do, part of me was thinking “please don’t test that too much.”
Later, when I saw Missy in the hallway, I felt like I’d totally let you down. I hate that feeling, but I know there’s more to come as you get older.
And yet I hope there’s more room for understanding too.
Dear Daughter, you blow me away. You motivate me. You fill me with pride. You give me the drive to do better, to do more and more than I possibly thought I could do before.
There’s a lot of crap in this world especially where us girls are concerned. In many ways, your brothers have it loads easier than you do.
But, you’ve got a secret weapon—me.
I believe in glass ceilings as little as I believe the homemaker way of life is a woman’s natural inclination. I don’t believe we’re the weaker sex. I don’t even believe math comes easier to boys!
I think we’re very savvy creatures and quite complex too. I also think we’re incredibly strong despite the fact we’re not much for in your face antics.
I’ve screwed up over and over again in this lifetime, mostly because I refused to accept other people’s truths as my own. This is a good thing as much as it is a bad thing.
For you, I only wish you do what you need to do and know you can come to me no matter what trail you blaze. Have no fear, Daughter. I’ll always love you, always fight for you, always listen to you.
It doesn’t matter to me if you become a mega lawyer, a savvy scientist, a brilliant businesswoman, or tender and loving housewife. What does matter to me is that you’re pleased and happy and proud and content with what you do and if you need help feeling that, know we all do and I’ll help you the way my mom tries to help me.
I know your little heart is hurt because Daddy and I aren’t together and everything around you says we should be. I know I can’t say or do anything to help it make sense to you right now (or maybe, ever) and that frustrates the heck out of you.
But I also know you’re bigger than that. Something like that isn’t going to be what defines you, what breaks you, what holds you down.
I just wish you knew that too.
I love you, I love you, I love you—a million times more, I love you.