I have sat down for the past several months trying to write this letter to you both but have not been able to find the words. I wrote Open Letter to My Son with relative ease so I have been perplexed as to why I have had such a hard time writing to you.
You both are the miracles that almost never came true; your births embody the best and worst moment of my life. I was forever changed that day, in both good ways and bad, but I’m realizing now that my consternation in writing to you is that I’m afraid of coming up short because you deserve nothing but the best.
By the time you read this, you’ll be old enough and experienced enough to know that I’m not perfect. What I hope you glean from all of this is the understanding that while the doctors and nurses may have saved your lives, you two are the shooting stars that saved my life.
But that is a story for another day.
As you two grow older, wiser, and ever more beautiful, I have come to the realization that you were put in my life to show me another way and to teach me what’s important in life. Sons and daughters are different in so many ways. I, for the most part, understand your brother. I guess it’s a guy thing. You on the other hand, often perplex me and teach me ways to look at even the mundane in another light.
You surprise me everyday.
I find it hard to think about you growing up and one day, moving on to live your own lives in college or elsewhere and beyond. I want so much to protect you, hold you, and keep you close. But of course I know the day will come when that room upstairs will empty out and you’ll be off to find yourself – to explore, learn, love, and experience.
Before you leave, I offer you the following suggestions for living a purposeful, fulfilling, and adventurous life as well as some things that I want you to know about me:
1. First and foremost, you will always be daddy’s little girl. I will always see you as that shooting star, cradled in my arms. Just accept it.
2. I maintain an irrational but tangible fear of not being able to always keep you safe. And because that’s my job, it keeps me up at night even now when you’re only 7. So when you get older, remember that dear old dad is worried about you so call him and let him know you’re ok.
3. My only wish for you is for you to be happy. If you have that, everything else falls into place.
4. We make our own destinies; don’t wait for it to happen because it won’t and you’ll look back wondering where you went wrong. Take risks, explore, learn, and call your father when you get home.
5. You are beautiful inside and out. Don’t let the media, people, or yourself make you feel differently.
6. When you were 6, I started to take you both out on dinner dates alone. I’ve never felt such pride and happiness during those dinners. I hope that when you’re 36, we’re still making time for each other.
7. Never let anyone treat you as anything less than the smart, beautiful, and funny girls you are. Love and be loved but don’t accept anything less.
8. Zoe – I always loved playing soccer with you on the front lawn and the day you innocently explained to me what the middle finger meant. Good stuff.
9. Ava – I melted the day you said to me, “Daddy – I wrote this story about a puppy just like you write stories on your computer.”
10. Remember to always speak up, speak your mind, but be respectful of other opinions. Be heard.
11. You matter. When you’re feeling down or defeated, call me. I’ll always be there for you even if it’s just for a cup of coffee and a shoulder to lean on.
12. Never settle.
13. Trust, but verify. In love and life.
14. Like I told your brother, I’m sorry for the days that I yelled at you for something I’m sure wasn’t important. I can honestly say, I tried my best to be a good parent but sometimes I fell short and that’s not your fault.
15. I’m probably never going to like your boyfriends. You should just accept that because I’m having a hard time just talking about it now.
16. If you get in trouble, I will be the first one at your side to help you, make sure you’re safe, and then ground you for a month.
17. Of course, get a puppy.
18. At some point in your life, live alone. Bask in the time spent with ‘you.’ But know that you can always come home for any reason. Keep the key.
19. Read. And continue to write your stories.
20. When you look back at your baby pictures, just remember that I did my best with those hair thingys. And if you are not home by curfew with that new boyfriend, I’ll show him the pictures!
21. Learn to ski, snowboard, or go hiking. Being on top of a mountain on a sunny crisp day will be some of the most magical moments of your life.
22. Always come home for the holidays.
23. You can always curl up with Dad on the couch no matter how old you are.
When you were born, they told us that you might very well not make it through the night. But you did. Embrace the gift you have been given and live YOUR life. Choose to be happy and always remember that we love you, unconditionally.
PS: Don’t forget: Dinner at 8 with Dad on Thursday night. See you then.