I know as you continue to grow up, other voices will become important, maybe even more important than mine. But if I’ve done my job as your mom, I hope that you’ll listen, eventually understanding that my Mom Purpose on this earth is to keep you safe and nurture your spirit. Sometimes I’ll fail, but one of the ways I know for sure that I can succeed in doing both is by helping guide you through your missteps, permanent mistakes, accidental successes, and hard-fought wins. I can also be honest with you about what I learned the hard way, what I’ve known all along, and what I’m still trying to figure out myself. And I can let you have your own experiences, successes, and failures and learn from you, too. So here goes…
Keep your voice strong and your heart soft. You’ll eventually figure out when it’s ok to sit quietly and let the louder voices among us rage on, and when it’s important to stand up and speak your mind. You won’t always get it right - nobody does – but listen to that gut of yours, when possible. You were born with good guts. I should know.
That heart of yours is the strongest thing you have, so keep working that muscle and try to keep it open, yet protected, whenever possible. It’s not something you should give to everyone you meet, but something you should keep open to everyone you meet. You won’t always get it right – nobody does – but it’s the practice that matters.
Let yourselves feel it all, while embracing that this, too - the good, the bad, and the indifferent – shall pass. As we say in our house: it’s ok to feel your feelings. It’s also ok – and really important - to share them with trusted people you love.
Know that your mistakes don’t define you, but not learning from them will. And if you let your mistakes dictate your future, oh baby girl, it’ll break my heart. There’s not one person on this earth who hasn’t made mistakes - some of them over and over and over again – and your dad and I are two of those people. But those in your life who have moved through their mistakes, learned from them, grown from them, and not let them define who they are? Those are your people.
Let yourself fall in love, even when your heart gets broken. And then let yourself love all over again – in the big ways and in the small ways. All of the ways do matter.
Keep giggling and keep letting yourself find the joy in the little and the big.
Keep dancing and singing and creating because we need that light in the world, even if it’s just you singing or dancing in your room or in the car or in the shower all by yourself. And find the people in your life who will create, dance, and sing along with you - those are your people.
Work hard. Sometimes it won’t seem like it paid off because the outcome wasn’t what you wanted. But over time, if you truly try your best more than not and practice not giving up when the going gets tough? You’ll start to see the lessons you’ve learned by falling short as many times as you soared ahead. And eventually you’ll figure out what’s worth your time and energy and what’s not. But that, too, takes practice and hard work to figure out. And it might look different than where your dad or I spend our energy. And that’s ok.
Take care of your body. It is the single best tool you have for helping create the life you want to live. Be kind to it and be kind to yourself. This is something I’m still learning, too, but I promise to teach you what I’ve learned so far about keeping it strong and healthy.
Speak kindly to yourself. The way people talk to and treat others is often how they talk to themselves, in my experience. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you can be to others.
Try not to worry so much about what people think about you…even your dad and me. This might be the hardest one of all. But if you’re keeping your voice and your heart strong, staying open to your feelings, learning and growing from your mistakes and your victories, falling in love, giggling and finding joy, dancing, singing, creating, working hard, taking care of your body, and being kind to yourself and others? Nobody’s opinion is more important than that.
And the longer you get to live, the stronger I hope your resolve will be that the you out there kicking ass and being kind is the you that will be seen by the people who are your people. The others aren’t your people, as it turns out, and that’s ok.
Be kind, be strong, be open, and keep creating. The rest will take care of itself, my sweet girls.