A Letter To My Daughter on Your First Day Of School

Annabelle's second birthday shoot with In Bloom Photography

 

Wow, I cannot believe it has been two years since you made your grand entrance into the world! I’m so thankful to God for blessing us with the most beautiful (seriously, have you seen your baby photos?) and tender slice of heaven we could have ever imagined. The past two years have been a complete whirlwind and a learning curve for all of us. Adjusting our newlywed world to add you into it came so much easier than we expected. I’d like to think it was the overabundance of preparation on my end that made the transition so smooth, but my heart knows that’s not the truth. You are the reason it was so smooth. You have been the perfect addition to our world and you continue to bless, surprise, and amaze us every single day. Every. Single. Day.

We’ve been blessed that you have been able to spend these two years in the comfort of home while we worked- either at home or at the office. You’ve never been without someone who loved you fiercely right by your side. Now, with our move to Texas and your need for socialization outside our home, you are venturing out to day care, and out of our sight, for the very first time. The first day of school and your 2nd birthday falling so closely together has me feeling all sorts of varied emotions all at once. I know that some babies go to school much younger than you (heck, your little brother is starting with you at just 10 months old) and totally thrive at school. I wonder if maybe this would be easier if we hadn’t gotten so used to your constant companionship. If I hadn’t gotten used to throwing you in the car to head to tumbling in the middle of the day, take you out to lunch, or ride along in the grocery cart while I shopped for our dinner, your absence from 9-5 wouldn’t be so stark. You’re such a little bitty thing- weighing in at just 23 lbs. at your 2-year-old checkup- but you’ve got enough courage and tenacity to rival the largest of us: your no-hands-backwards-flying-off-daddy’s-chest reminds me of that each day. You’re such a cuddle bug but you’re not afraid to tackle your brother to save your princess castle from his demolition. You’re so (so, so, so, so, so) headstrong but you can be transitioned to new tasks when necessary. I think about how intimidating the world might seem to you as you see large groups of children for the first time, learn to navigate the playground, and learn to take directions from your teachers all without the comfort of a familiar face and smile by your side. I know that sending you to school is going to be GREAT for you! You will make so many friends, learn much more than I could teach you, and get used to a schedule that doesn’t revolve around our work. I’m SO excited for these things for you! But, I know that there are lessons you won’t be taught in school- not today, not next year, and not as your graduate from college (you will go to college, won’t you? Don’t forget to major in Business.). No, there are some things your daddy and I will have to instill in you ourselves. I promise to do my best to send you out into the world completely prepared with these lessons:

 

Never lose your fearlessness

I’m not talking about the fearlessness that allows you to fall backward off the couch and know that you won’t hit the ground. That kind of fearlessness comes from your dad roughhousing with you WAY MORE than he should and has resulted in more than a couple gray hairs sprouting from my head. That kind of fearlessness is bound to wane as you learn your own physical limits later in childhood. I’m talking about the kind of fearlessness that will allow you to chase after your dreams, speak truth into someone’s life, and love someone with your whole heart. I promise to always encourage you in this endeavor and to never, ever project my own human fears into your fearless heart.

Learn to listen with an open heart

This whole world is filled with people who are hurting. Every encounter you have with someone is tainted by past experiences and circumstances. Don’t forget that each of us is always fighting our own battles. When you get into an argument with your brother, classmate, or coworker don’t forget to listen to them with an open heart. Embracing them from a place of grace won’t always win you the argument, but it will always (every single time) grow your heart. I know that to learn to extend this grace to others, you will need to see it in me. I promise to listen to you with an open heart and help you see the value in extending grace to those around you.

Be the person who shows up

Be the person who shows up. Period. Show up when you’d rather be somewhere else. Show up when you will only know one person at the party. Show up for the big and little milestones for a friend. Show up when your brother needs help moving into another new apartment. Show up when you’re pretty sure you don’t want the job but have already committed to the interview. The point is, be the person who is there when you say you will be and miraculously, you will be surrounded by people who show up for you too. God is good that way. I promise to model this for you- I will show up. I will show up for you, for my own friends, and for our family so that you will understand the absolute value of standing by your word.

Understand that we are human too

Paul reminds us that we all fall short of the glory of God in the book of Romans. Please understand that your dad and I are included in this statement. We will, undoubtedly, fail you somehow. We won’t be the perfect parents and we most certainly will not be the perfect humans. But we will NEVER stop striving for that perfection. I will probably always read a million parents blogs, books, and bible studies. Your dad will continue to pray for you in all ways possible, and together we will try every single day to be the parents you deserve. But, because we are a family, you will be witness to the worst in us. You will see us stressed to the max, tired, grumpy, and completely unlovable.  But that’s ok, because we are your parents, and we love you unconditionally, even when we are tired and grumpy.  You just have to bear with us and remember that we are human, too.

Choose to be happy…

It will never be anyone’s responsibility- including your future husband’s- to make you happy. That responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders, my princess. Choose to wake up each day with a happy disposition. Choose to make the most out of every day and to look for the silver lining in your disappointments. The earlier you learn that your happiness is something not controlled by others, the better you will be. I promise to choose to be happy. I will show you every day the difference in wallowing in the hand you’re dealt and embracing the beauty of the life we are blessed with.

…but don’t settle

Don’t settle for anything less than the absolute best. Don’t settle for a good view when there’s a great one down the street. Don’t settle for decent wine just because the bottle is a few bucks cheaper than your favorite. Don’t settle for a man who thinks you’re just alright (this is another letter in itself. Later. Much later.). Always know the value of a moment, a meal, yourself. You are more precious than the rarest gem on this earth. I will spend my life fighting to have the best of everything so that you will never question that the life, love, and experiences you deserve are the very best.

Be able to laugh at life and yourself

Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. Laugh when you trip and fall.  Find happiness when things don’t go exactly the way you planned- those moments are when life is happening! I will show you how to do this by being goofy with you, poking fun at the little things in life that we could let upset us.

Remember that I am here for you

All moms say this, and all moms mean it: I’m here for you. Anytime, anywhere, anything you need. Forever. If it’s 2 PM or 2 AM, in the heat of the summer or dead of winter, there will never be a season you’re in that I won’t come for you. Over the years we will have our own rocky points to work through as mother and daughter. These rocky times will never, ever be so rocky that I won’t have your back (and your front and side, too). Even if you just slammed your door in exasperation and exclaimed your hatred for me, I will always be here for you. Call me when you’re homesick. Come sit beside me on the couch when you’re lonely. I will do my best in seeking you out, in knowing your heart so well that I will find you in your times of need, and in gaining your trust so that you will always believe you have a safe harbor in your momma.

Know that you are so loved

Before we knew you, your daddy and I LOVED you fiercely. We have prayed for you, and over you, since we knew you were growing in my tummy. Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends have marveled in every little thing you have done and learned over the past two years. We are totally and completely in awe of you. What if I told you there is someone who loves you even more than that? There is someone who will pursue your heart and mind so passionately that you won’t be able to ignore Him for long. God designed you perfectly and He loves you more than we ever could. I will spend my life introducing you to Him, teaching you to know when He is speaking to your heart.

So as we walk into your very first classroom I will hold your hand, kiss your cheek, and tell you how much I love you. I’ll pray that we are already well on our way to keeping these promises to you. And then, I’ll let you go, knowing that you were never really mine to begin with. I love you forever, my darling.

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