This article was first published on the Huffington Post in May 2012. The Princess will soon turn 5 in few months’ time; A Mom plays such a crucial role in the lives of their daughters, I am feeling such an intense urgency that I must do a rain check on my own inadequacies so that I can parent her well, be the (girl)friend she needs and bring her up in the ways of the Lord. There are so many things I wish my own Mom had told me when I was growing up. I’ve adapted part of the article and personalised it for Dana, as a personal reminder to tarry in my responsibilities to my one and only precious daughter.
Ten things I want my (5-year-old) daughter to know:
1. It is not your job to keep the people you love happy. Not me, not Daddy, not your teachers or your friends. The hard truth is sometimes Mommy makes you feel as if you ought to…please forgive me. I promise, it’s not. My joy should derive from the Lord, not how you behave or how well you perform.
2. Your physical fearlessness is a strength. Please continue using your body in the world: sing, dance, run, jump, climb, throw and catch. I love your bursts of energy as you step outdoors – you love to cycle, swim, and are fearless when you ascend the rock walls and the towering rope pyramids…I love to hear you belt out famous songs from Broadway Musicals and twirl around confidently in your ballet tutu…You have such a healthy sense of mastery in physical activity and challenges. Embrace it and use it to bless those around you!
3. You should never be afraid to apologise when you make mistakes. When you do something wrong, you are sometimes too proud or embarrassed to say sorry. You tell Mommy that you worry that your friends will make fun or laugh at you. Anyone who teases you for your boldness to acknowledge your faults is not a true friend. A young lady who is humble enough to accept correction and say sorry develops character pure as gold…
4. It is okay to disagree with me, Daddy and others but do it respectfully. Don’t pick fights for the sake of it, of course, and never hold grudges against Mommy but when you really feel I’m wrong, please let me know. Your points of views are both valid and valuable so help Mommy to listen to your side of the story and let me be a part of your life. I want to be your best friend till you find God’s appointed sweetheart for your life…
5. You are so very beautiful. Your face now holds the baby you were and the young lady you are rapidly becoming. My colloquial accent and love for people combined with your Daddy’s zest for life and fun-loving antics have produced a daughter so uniquely you. We see the little tiny mole above your left eyebrow as a reminder that God has a special destiny for you. Remember you are beautiful inside and out and never seek affirmation of your self-worth from any worldly pleasures.
6. Reading is essential. It is the central leisure-time joy of our family (especially Daddy’s), as you know by now, we are so immensely proud and pleased to see that you seem to share it. That awesome feeling of not wanting to put that book down until you finish the last chapter, that sense of slipping into another world, of getting lost there in the best possible way? Those never go away. Welcome.
7. You are not me and I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to know you are your own person, entirely, completely, fully. Separation from me (and Daddy) is one of the fundamental tasks of your eventual adolescence, which we can see glinting over the not-so-distant horizon. I dread to think of that void, that distance, that essential cleaving, but I want you to know we know how vital it is. I’m going to be here, no matter what, Dana, for you as you grow into the young lady whom God desires you to be.
8. It is almost never about you. When people act in a way that hurts or makes you feel insecure, it is almost certainly about something happening inside of them, and not about you. I struggle with this one mightily (even as an adult!). Believe me, I know how peoples’ words and feelings can slice your heart, even if your head knows otherwise. But maybe, just maybe, it will help to remember that almost always, other people are struggling with their own demons, and they don’t necessarily want to be mean.
9. There is no single person who can be your everything. Be very careful about bestowing this power on any one person. As an only child, I can sense your loneliness and your desire to always be surrounded by your peers. Trying to fill that void with other people (or with anything else) is a lost cause. You will feel let down, and, worse, that loneliness will be there no matter what. Surrender your life to Jesus, let Him annoint you and direct your paths. Humans will disappoint us but God will never let us down…His plans for you will always be good, true and Amen.
10. I will try to be a better Mom for you. I know I’m not good enough and not the mother you deserve. I am impatient and fallible and I raise my voice too often. I am sorry. I love you more than I love anyone else in the entire world and I always pray to God to make me better for you (and for Daddy). I’ll admit I don’t always love your behavior, and I’m quick to tell you that. Even though I sometimes don’t show it, I love you with every fiber of my being. No matter what. Every single day. I have never stopped thanking God for giving me the blessing of you.
|I love it when you kiss me…
|I love it when we are best friends!
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