To My Dearest Norah D,
Today you turn nine.
When I decided to write you this letter, I had intended on making a list of all the things I love about you. I thought about what kind of girl you are, and what kind of woman you will become. I thought about all the things that make you great: your sense of humor, your sense of style, the way you make friends so easily, your kindness and compassion and fierce loyalty to the people you love. There is no doubt that you are an amazing girl and a wonderful person, and if I DID make a list of your Greatness the list would be long. I just love you so much, and I am so proud of you.
Once I started writing, though, telling you about your great qualities was not quite enough.
I love you more than your great qualities.
I love you more than your good grades. I love you more than your friendships and creativity, more than your laughter and goofy jokes. I love you more than braiding your hair, more than your suicide-girl fashion sense, more than you love to read. I love you more than the hugs you give me, and I love you more than any accomplishment you have ever or will ever make.
I love you more than life itself, not just because of the person you are, but because of the person you have made me.
Since my heart coiled into yours, since the day I met you and touched your face, even from the first time you kicked me in the ribs from the inside, you have changed me. You have made me better with every hug, every argument, every squeeze around my neck. You have forced me to face things about myself I previously avoided, and you have empowered me to slay the demons that held me captive most of my life.
I owe you so much.
I hope someday you realize how much.
It’s hard as a person to look objectively at those we love the most. When we love someone so much they become part of who we are, when we love them with all of our breaths and heartbeats and seconds of life, when our soul itself wraps them up and tangles into theirs like a chaotic, snarly, blissful, mixy mess, it is hard to tell where we stop and the other person starts. It’s hard to detach and see the truth in the one we love, because when we look at them we see ourselves, too.
It is even harder to do that when you’re a mom, but I will always try. I will always try to see you for who YOU are, not for what you have made me. It will be hard. I will make mistakes, and I will forget.
I DO forget.
I forget sometimes that you aren’t ME. I forget that you are your own person, not an extension of myself.
I forget that you’re growing up, and you’re no longer the teeny baby staring at me from your car seat propped on the kitchen counter, just hours after you were born.
I forget that you need to do things on your own, and that you are figuring out all the time what you’re made of.
I forget that you don’t know you as well as I do in a lot of ways, and that you are still just small.
You’re so smart and so quick, I forget that you’re not as old as you behave.
I forget that as your mom, it’s my job to give you everything you need in order to leave me behind, so you can write your own life story in your own life’s book.
I forget that you’ve already started writing, and that my turn to write full pages is over. I forget that my job is to make corrections and notes in the margins, not to rewrite what you’ve already written.
I forget that writing in the margins of your life’s book is becoming more and more of a privilege granted by permission, not a right for me to take.
You’ve just grown up so fast.
I’m tempted to tell you “STOP IT STOP IT,” but I don’t want you to stop. I’m so excited for you to become someone bigger and better than you are right now, and to become someone bigger and better than I have ever been. You are SO POWERFUL. You are so great, and you are so incredibly amazing I am in awe of you every single day.
If I have only three things to teach you, My Norah, if you learn only three things from your mom, I want them to be this:
1. BE YOU, HARD. Live loud. Live bold. Never hold back, never shrink, never hide. The world is full of sheep already, and you are not one of them. You are not a sheep, you are a sheepdog, and to keep the wolves at bay you must BARK. Growl. Howl, fight, bite, claw, run. CHASE. Defend. Defend yourself, defend others. Be brave, be fearless. Stand up, stand tall, never hold back. By being who you are you will give others safety and permission to be who THEY are, and the lives that will flourish under your protection will be countless.
2. YOU ARE A TREASURE WORTH SLAYING DRAGONS FOR. Treasure yourself as I treasure you. Make rules for yourself, your relationships, your body, and your life that honor and respect the priceless blessing that you are. Never forget that your worth is what YOU decide, no one else, and that anyone asking you to compromise your convictions in order to gain their respect or attention does not treasure you the way you deserve. Your mommy would travel to hell and back, pull down the moon, and kill every dragon just to hold you for one second… never let anyone treat you like you are less than that amount of effort.
3. YOU CAN. I don’t even care what the question is, but that’s the answer. You can. You absolutely can, no matter what. Your brain and perspective and attitude will decide for you what you’re capable of, and I KNOW YOU. I know what you can do. I grew you inside of me, I felt you move before I saw your face, I have watched you grow, and just as a farmer knows his crop I know exactly what you were made to do. You were made to shine, Love, and you will move mountains if you decide.
You can. No matter the question, that is the answer. YES. YOU. CAN.
My Beloved, there is much I have said that you won’t understand fully until you’re older, until you read this with adult perspective and a wisdom that comes only with time, but that’s okay. I write you this letter as the girl you are now and for the woman you will become, because I love you both. I have loved you before I knew you, and I love the woman you will be that I have yet to meet. I envy the adults that will walk beside you as you navigate through life, the people who will know you as friend and peer.
My Sweet Norah, you are absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me, and the most incredible thing that I’ve ever done. You have provided me with perspective and strength, challenge and healing, understanding and acceptance.
I am so proud of you, and between now and forever not one breath will escape from my lips that does not whisper your name.
I love you to the moon and back,
Always your loudest cheerleader (and if you remember how much I don’t like cheering, you’ll know how much I love you),