Before my daughter was born, we didn’t know her gender.
She was a surprise.
“Just a baby,” her big brother told everyone who asked.
Honestly, I was expecting another boy. I had only ever had a son. In my mind, I was the mother of sons.
I was thrilled beyond measure to have her.
But I wasn’t expecting her.
When the doctor told me she was a girl, I didn’t believe him.
He had to say it twice.
And then, as I looked across the operating room, I saw her.
Chubby and full.
A mop of dark hair standing straight up.
She was startled, indignant at the interruption to the only existence she had known. And she let us know about it.
In that instant, an endless swell of love filled my heart.
Any child is a gift.
A daughter or a son—it doesn’t matter.
But, as lessons pass from father to son, there are things a mother wants to teach her daughter.
Lessons I wish I had learned earlier.
Lessons I wish I could internalize more.
To speak, as her heart hammers and her hands sweat and her throat closes. To speak louder when people don’t listen or talk over her.
To pursue her own interests, especially if they are different from those of the people around her.
To have the strength and courage to stand for herself and her convictions.
To walk—to run—from destructive situations.
To climb the mountains in her life. And to look forward to those challenges.
To celebrate her successes—and the lessons learned from her failures.
To laugh, as loudly as she likes.
To cry, when tears are warranted. And to stop when they aren’t.
To be proud of who she is, of what makes her unique.
To respect herself and all that she stands for.
To know she is beautiful, in the ways that matter. To reject the ways that don’t.
To understand her value comes from her character and choices, rather than her appearance or popularity.
To realize the world will only appreciate her as much as she appreciates herself.
I love you, little girl. You are wonderful and special and perfect.
Just as you are.
What lessons do you hope to share with your children?