Dream On

Dear Daughter,

This morning, you told me about your plans for the art studio you want to own when you grow up. You excitedly rattled off all of the cool features you want to incorporate, thinking of every detail as if you were an adult business owner but still with the delight of a child’s imagination.

While you were talking, I was so impressed, but my awe quickly turned to sadness. I couldn’t help but think, “This is just a silly child’s dream. In 10 years her art studio will be a distant memory. In 20 years she’ll be an accountant or a receptionist. In 30 years she’ll look back on her art studio dream and will be regretful that nothing ever came of it.”

I’m ashamed to admit that I had those thoughts, and I assure you it has nothing to do with you. Rather, skepticism sank in because I know that so often, dreams die as we get older. During childhood, every kid wants to be an artist or an athlete or some other fun job that starts with an “a.” But typically that artist or athlete instead becomes a cashier or a mechanic. And we need cashiers and mechanics. But why is it that very few people get to pursue the dreams of their childhood?

My sweet and imaginative daughter, it is my hope that you will be the exception to the rule. And in order for that to happen, I encourage you to keep talking about your plans. Write them down so that you have something tangible to refer to when you’re older. Start practicing making your own art; put in the work to make this a reality. And even if the art studio doesn’t work out, maybe the practicing of your plan will open up to something even bigger and better.

Don’t ever stop being a dreamer.

Love,
Mom

First, the basics.

Dear Daughter,

I have so many things to teach you. And I have to be sure to teach them to you the right way, in a way that will build you up and not bring you down, that will motivate you to continue learning. But I am flawed and will make mistakes in teaching you how not to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and I want you to know right now that I don’t expect you to be perfect. I don’t even expect you to be close to perfect. But I do feel I can help guide you through certain areas of life in which you might feel inadequate.

Some of my letters to you will go deep, some will be more instructional and others will be downright silly. But before I get into any of that, there are just a few basics that I’d like you to know… rules every girl must live by:

1. Always make sure your clothes match.
2. Smile as much as possible.
3. Brush your hair (and your teeth, for that matter) every day.
4. Say your prayers.
5. Never, ever eat ice cream from the carton. (It’s a disaster waiting to happen.)
6. If a boy is mean to you, it’s not because he likes you, it’s because he’s mean.
7. Mow the lawn at least once in your life.
8. Never lie. It always comes back to bite you.
9. Always rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

And most importantly…

10. Listen to your mother.

I’m looking forward to sharing additional little tidbits, and more, with you as we journey through life together.

Love,
Mom

The story behind LettersToDaughter

One of my favorite things to do is to observe and analyze the behavior of others and also the ways of our culture in general. I learn so much about right and wrong, good and evil, and plain ol’ manners by being keenly aware of my surroundings and interpreting what they mean to me and my loved ones.

I have an 8-year-old daughter and another child on the way. Although it pains me to think so, I know that my children will make many mistakes in life, just as I have. I also know that these mistakes will be good learning tools for them as they mature through life. However, I do think that parents can try to instruct their children to avoid some of the same mistakes they’ve made, or at least offer guidance on how to handle the hairy parts of life. And that’s why I’m writing this blog.

The blog will contain letters to my daughter explaining things I’ve learned or observed, along with suggestions on how she should handle those things in her own life. I by no means claim to be perfect, and I’m sure that readers will disagree with some of my words of wisdom. But I just want to convey to my children the world as I see it through my eyes, and hopefully offer them some mechanisms on how to navigate that world with confidence and grace.

This blog is not meant just for my children, however. It is my hope that anyone—man, woman, young, old—can learn from, or at least relate to, these letters and can likely add their own insight to them. So feel free to comment on my posts with anything you’d like to add. I want to learn from you, too.