A letter to a daughter on her fourth birthday

Dear Sophie, I write this note to you on your 4th birthday as a letter for the future. I remember the car ride to the hospital as though it was yesterday. I was scared and excited and eager but most of all I was nervous. I was nervous because I didn’t know about girls. I didn’t know how to raise a girl. For weeks prior I had obsessed over the tiny dresses I would put you in. Washing, hand drying and hanging them on the girly pink closet hooks I had bought for that exact purpose.

Dear Sophie,

I write this note to you on your 4th birthday as a letter for the future.

I remember the car ride to the hospital as though it was yesterday. I was scared and excited and eager but most of all I was nervous. I was nervous because I didn’t know about girls. I didn’t know how to raise a girl. For weeks prior I had obsessed over the tiny dresses I would put you in. Washing, hand drying and hanging them on the girly pink closet hooks I had bought for that exact purpose.

And with each one of those dresses I imagined a memory of you in them that I would one day have.

In truth I daydream endlessly of you Sophie. Even before I knew you I would think about our life together. I would wonder what kind of person you would be, what kind of soul you would have. I worried about the bad people in this world and I hoped you would be the kind of individual strong enough to overcome them. Furthermore I prayed I would be a strong enough woman to teach you how to do this. As I struggled with my own self-esteem issues I doubted how I could ever be a positive role model for you. Before I had ever laid eyes on you dear daughter I contemplated obsessively over how I would ever give you the self-reliance to walk your own path. To be your own woman.

These things still concern me, but not nearly as much as they once did- because now I know you.

You came to greet us on a cold and crisp November morning. You were perfect in every sense of the word. You immediately stole your father’s ability to think logically and continue to to this day- and I would put money on the fact that this is unlikely to change. Please don’t take too much advantage of that in your teenage years.

I look at you today- the smart, funny and wonderful little girl you’ve grown into and I marvel in your independence. As I have watched you develop over the years I see this person emerging from within. This person is strong-willed and courageous. She is feisty, never willing to back down from something she believes in. This seemingly tiny persona of yours is not tiny at all. Sophie you are the type of person that will draw notice to yourself wherever you go. Your sheer confidence already illuminates you. This is a quality you should never be ashamed of. It is the essence of you and deserves to be savored.

In your life people may try to whitewash these talents, just know it is out of jealousy and fear they do this. Feel pity rather than anger to such individuals and be strong in the resolve that your uniqueness is something that can never be subdued. Do not bend your morals and ideals to please the egos of others. Sometimes it may be difficult not to, sometimes all you will want is to fit in with the crowd. But as you get older and wiser you will appreciate the fact you have stayed true to yourself. Befriend those without ulterior motives, the ones who only want to rejoice in the splendid rareness that is you. Those friendships will be the lasting ones. I promise.

And just as you will go on learning life’s lessons, so have I.

It is now 4 years, a lot of arguments, some tears and a whole bunch of laughs later that I realize how unimportant those little dresses actually were. They were overpriced pieces of frilled fabric, worn once and never to be remembered or thought of again. It makes me wonder why I had worried so endlessly about their creases and stains in the first place. I spent so much time assuring they were in lovely order for you to wear. It all seems so silly now looking back on it.

These last four years have gone by so fast it makes me realize that it will not be long until you can read this letter yourself and take in its meaning for what you will. And when that time comes I would like to give you a few pieces of motherly advice;

Confidence, contentment and kindness are infinitely more important than material clutter. Style is not measured by the outfit you wear, but how you wear it. Travel lightly and smile frequently- both will have outstanding influence on your psyche. Understand that it is acceptable to say no to anyone at all. Know that karma is real and tangible and constantly in motion. Be generous. Ignore the cynics. Believe in humanity. But most importantly live liberally, live freely, live your own way- because that is what you have always been meant to do.

Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.

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