My tongue is in my hand…

Letter to the Little One

Posted on: June 2, 2010

Dear Natalie,

It’s been while since I’ve written you a letter (the others are in a yellow spiral notebook on the bookshelf in the computer room, not that they’ll be there forever, but that’s where they are right now…)

As a  mother, I know I don’t always do everything right, but I am doing the best I can at any given moment. Sometimes, that may seem like it’s not good enough, believe me, I know – but be assured that I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else on this whole entire earth (so don’t let anyone fool you), I’m learning as I go, and doing my very very best.

Right now, more than I have in years and years, I’m paying attention to the debates and criticisms regarding feminism, racism, Christianity. I think about the world I was raised in, versus the world you will be raised in. I think about the world I was raised in versus the world others in my generation were raised in. We can’t separate ourselves from the places we are raised, we can only be willing to love and learn from those places that we begin.

And know this, I’m far less interested in the technicalities than the big picture, so I may let some things slide that other parent’s wouldn’t, but I can guarantee you that if I ever witness or hear of you degrading another human being for any reason whatsoever, I will tear into you in ways you can never imagine until we can re-arrange whatever spring that ugliness sprang from. You are not allowed to treat people poorly, no matter who they are, no matter what you or anyone else thinks of them. We are all equally worthy beings on this earth. I will not insist on many things from you, but I do insist that you treat others with respect, and that you treat yourself with respect. If it is my job to do anything as a parent, I believe it is my job to do this, to help you cultivate respect for yourself and others. I won’t tolerate you degrading yourself any more than I will tolerate you degrading someone else. And believe me, I know how hard it is to do this sometimes. For me right now, the struggle is with respecting myself as much as I respect others. I don’t know what your struggles will be, but I’m doing my best to work through things myself, so I can help you do the same, as much as possible.

I’ve been thinking about all kinds of things lately, things I want to pass along to you, things I want you to know. I have no idea how old you’ll be when you read this, assuming you read this, but I’m not going to talk down to you. I don’t believe in talking down or up to people. Whether you are six or sixteen or twenty six, I’m sure you will take from this what you can, what you need at the time. I’m also sure this will only be one of many many things I write you. Maybe one day they’ll be all bound together in notebooks or folders or envelopes. I can’t promise you that though. I realize that I can’t promise you much about the future at all.

But I do promise you this, I love you fully and deeply. Your father loves you fully and deeply. Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins love you fully and deeply. God loves you fully and deeply. You are loved completely, always, as you are, no exceptions, no conditions. You are unconditionally loved, for eternity. If you are still and quiet enough, you’ll feel it in the sun, in the wind, in all the energy around you- you’ll see it in the trees and clouds and in the faces of strangers, you’ll see it everywhere you go. If you look, if you believe it, you will see it everywhere you go.

Which leads me to the next thing- belief. Belief is the very most important thing I’ve learned about so far in my life. Your belief will determine everything. Whether you believe the good or the bad, it will determine everything for you. I struggle every day with belief, so by no means at all do I expect you to master this, I just want to share this with you – I hope you see it in me, that I believe; that my life is better because of belief in good, in love, in forgiveness, in kindness, in magic, in God, in beauty, in joy, in mercy, in fun, in grace, in creativity, in respect, in humor, in the power of caring, in the supernatural, in peace, in freedom.

I want you to know that you always have the option to be free from the chains the world offers you. The chains look so pretty sometimes, it’s easy to wear them, to wrap yourself up in them and get comfortable. But one day, you will want to fly, and you will want to be free.

This is what I know about freedom: Freedom is choosing to love instead of hate. It is choosing to accept the unconditional love you are offered, and using it to propel you. It is choosing to forgive others instead of harboring ill will or seeking revenge. It is choosing to forgive yourself instead of engaging in regret. It is choosing to love yourself instead of giving in to self-hate. It is choosing to be generous instead of selfish. It is choosing gratitude instead of envy or bitterness. It is choosing determination instead of defeat. It is choosing to hope instead of despair. It is choosing to have faith instead of anxiety. It is choosing to be kind instead of hateful. It is choosing to believe that mountains can move instead of being fearful that they will crush you. It is choosing to allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, instead of numbing yourself.  It is choosing to think for yourself instead of being told what to think. It is choosing to be a positive member of your community instead of complaining about the problems. It is choosing to be open to people, to possibilities  instead of being closed to them. It is choosing to allow yourself to be ordinary, or extraordinary as you see fit for yourself. It is choosing to stand with the crowd at times and at others,  it is choosing to be alone  instead of being with the crowd.  And though at times you may feel that freedom means you are standing all by yourself, rest assured that you are not alone. Keep moving, you’ll find so many others like you along the way, don’t let fear keep you in a box, there are millions of amazing souls out here to mingle with. But don’t burn your bridges, freedom is about opening yourself and allowing yourself to connect, it’s not about separating yourself.

I will do everything I can to protect you from those who try to harm you, but I know I can not protect you from life, from the aches and hurts and disappointments and struggles. To do so would rob you of the joys and excitements and challenges that will allow you to utilize what you have within in you. Besides, there are some battles we all have to fight for ourselves at some time or another, and to do so, we need to practice. I would be doing you a disservice to jump in and save you every time you struggled. That being said, I may step back, but I’ll never leave you. I’ll always be with you, even when there are battles you must fight on your own, I will be right here, cheering you on. I will be right here, to help you gather your resources, to help you heal. You carry me with you, as I carry you with me. That is an unchangeable truth.

I hope you find ways to take the things in your life that you can’t control, the things that hurt you and anger you and disappoint you and break your heart and dampen your spirit and use them to move you; I hope you find ways to turn them within you, into something bigger, to provide fuel, to create something defiant and beautiful. As long as you are loving and respectful, you are encouraged to be defiant and beautiful (you couldn’t be beautiful without being loving and respectful anyways).

And here’s something else I want you to know, many have fought for you to do what you want with your life. You don’t have to be a mother or a wife. You don’t have to be a lawyer or a rock star. You don’t have to be a teacher or a construction worker. You don’t have to be a politician or a preacher. You don’t have to be a fast food worker or a tattoo artist. You don’t have to be a farmer or a mill worker or a secretary. You don’t have to be a chemist or a missionary. You don’t have to be a nurse or a bus driver or a entrepreneur. You don’t have to be a postal worker or a nanny or a firefighter. You don’t have to be a hairstylist or an interior designer. You don’t have to be a writer or a mechanical engineer or a psychiatrist or a chef. You don’t have to be an insurance agent or a mechanic or a doctor. You don’t have to be a dental assistant or a veterinarian or a salesperson or an executive. But you can be. You can be whatever you find that fits, whatever you choose. You can be many many things. That opportunity did not come without a price. It does not come without a price. Value your options, daughter and choose wisely, choose selfishly, choose bravely, choose lovingly.

Value your life. Value the people in your life. Value yourself. Value your days: your good days, your bad days, your boring days, your monumental days. Value all the intricacies of your life.

Because here’s the thing about life- You have to be willing to commit to loving it, the whole of it, and everyone in it, or you’re just going to hate it. You have to love it enough to take it as it is. You have to love it enough to always engage in making it better. You’ll probably find that how you feel about life is how you feel about God. And that how you think life feels about you is how you think God feels about you. So believe life loves you, take what life gives you and embrace all the tiniest pieces of it. Don’t let the busyness, the negative, the pessimists around you keep you from absorbing the love, keep you from loving. Don’t let yourself box life and people up. Life is fluid, people are multidimensional, don’t let your spirit get wrapped up in structures. You have the option to be free, you always have this option.

Take what you are given and give it back into life, love life back. Be brave, be loving, have belief. Have belief so you can believe. Believe in love. Believe so much that you don’t have room for fear or hate or self pity. Believe enough to see past the mountains that pop up in your way, believe the mountains are beautiful, movable, or that the route over or around them is amazing.

Commit. Commit to loving life. Otherwise, you’ll wind up wasting all your time hating it.

Now, I’ve written this as much (if not more)  for myself  as I have for you, my precious precious heart. Like I said, I’m learning along the way. I love you fiercely little one. Little silly, sweet, crazy, smart, joyful girl. The prayer in my heart for you right now is that you know love, that you feel within you the breadth and depth of the love that is yours. Love will get you so much farther than anything else, but remember, you have to believe it.

I love you Natalie Grace.

Love,

Me (Mom)

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