A Letter To My Daughter on Her 12th Birthday
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My, how you’ve grown this year.
We’ve had quite a busy year with a lot of travel. Travel is hard. It requires coming out of our comfort zones and safe routines. But we also learn the most about new places and ourselves when we travel. For example, I learned this year that I don't come back quite the same, even when I go on a short trip. And also that boat travel isn’t for me. I wonder what you learned about yourself this year.
Being 12 is tricky. You’re entering a liminal zone somewhere between a child and an adult. From the outside, it looks like there are days, even minutes when you’re a child and minutes when you’re an adult. One minute you want to go overseas by yourself, and the next, you want me to walk you to dance lessons. The swings are wild, and you were never someone to keep your emotions to yourself.
I prefer it when you tell us how you feel. First, knowing what you want is a triumph. Women aren’t supposed to want things in our patriarchal society. I love that you are strong enough to defy that conception. You always had a strong voice, and I’m so glad you didn’t let the outside world drown it out.
This year you had to adapt to a new school with new friends, teachers, uniforms, and rules. Navigating that big school seemed like an impossible task back in September. I know sometimes it felt overwhelming, and you felt like you couldn’t handle it. But having your friends over for your birthday party the other day, I noticed that your group dynamics are kinder, softer than last year, and definitely more mature. I don’t want this to sound like “I told you so”, but I knew you could handle this, and I’m proud of you.
I wanted to take this opportunity and thank you for everything you taught me, from how to have a voice to how to connect to my feminine side. You taught me by example that I am strong even when I cry, that I love even when I’m mad, and that I can handle big emotions even if it feels like I’m drowning. You taught me how to look at things differently and how to set my imagination free. Thank you.
It’s getting more challenging to decide what to wish for you. I think it’s because you have strong opinions, and I learned that even though I know how you feel a lot of the time, I don’t know how you feel ALL the time. So, this year, I wish for you whatever you wish for yourself. And I wish you’d tell me what that is so we can share an extra cuddle.
For convenience, here's a list of all my letters to my daughter:
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