A letter to my daughter on the occasion of her 3rd birthday

Dear Pickleface,

I’d like to thank you for being the most fabulous person I know. You have taken the best of me and the best of your dad and perfected the combination – by some way, at that. Your brilliance would frankly be annoying if you didn’t temper it with, well, temper. Like the truly spectacular indignation of someone for whom not getting to watch Meg at the Circus for the 14,024,324th time – that day – is the Worst. Thing. Ever.

I’ve spent some time this birthday coming to terms with how exceptionally wonderful you are. I can’t accept it all in one go, so I have to break it down. Into that time you wrote your own name, beautifully, with even-sized letters and no help from me. Into the moments where you lean over and whisper in my ear “I love you, Mummy”. Into the morning where we had that extensive and ridiculous argument about going swimming and I was really quite mean and I should have known better as the (substantially) bigger person and you open-heartedly and honestly accepted my apology and we were friends again.

The awe has really kicked in now that it begins to dawn on me how much you are and how much you can be. As much as I have many passions and ambitions and a long road ahead of me with much to do and see, you make me aware of the enormous cloud of potential that clings to you; a dazzling, blinding aura of unadulterated future. I think I always thought of potential as a weight, of expectation. Now I see it more as a buoyant cloud, or even a slippery jet stream to be grasped and ridden, joyously.

I am scared of all the things in the world that could happen to you. Terrified. I asked your auntie once, days after you were born, “am I going to be scared for the next 18 years?” and she said “oh, pretty much forever,” and I knew then and I know now she was right. She is inconveniently right about everything. But fear can be motivating; it can galvanise you to – and here I sound a fraction Nuwanda, so forgive me – do more, and be more. You, it turns out, are the best reason I could ever have to do everything I want and need to do with my life. Because I never ever want to put obstacles in your way by being the living embodiment of those barriers, obstructions and immobilising hurdles. There will come a point when your peers become greater influencers of your progress than I am, but how can I offer a counterpoint to any of the limitations the still-confused world wishes to place on your progress if I accept any of them on myself?

Sorry this is more about me than you. Let me tell you more about you. Here are some things that are awesome about you:

  • When someone is sad, and you ask why and you offer kisses and you want to find a solution or resolve the problem right then.
  • When nursery staff told me everyone makes sure to include you in games because you’re such a friendly little soul.
  • When you make ridiculous faces and do silly dances and crack jokes and tickle us because you love laughter.
  • When you realise you’ve done something not quite right and say “I want to do it again,” and you want to do it “righter”. Okay, you say “better” now, but “righter” was kind of adorable.
  • When you can say “obstacle course”, “okapi”, “pangolin” and all your Greek colours perfectly, but a certain common word still comes out every time as “sumpfming”.
  • When you go right along with your namesake and you are Brave. And also kind of a Pest.
  • When you make sure to include Casper as a member of the family.
  • When you play beautifully with your gorgeous cousins and hero worship a certain little boy we’re both related to (it’s easily done).
  • When you open your little eyes every morning and smile and say “Mummy, I missed you!” even if I was there to put to bed just a few hours before.
  • When your best time-wasting, diversion technique is ALL THE CUDDLES. Oh, woe is me.

Look, kid. I’ve done the po-faced “what I’ll teach you about feminism” spiel before. And there are lots of things I will write down for you that will be just for you and won’t see the light of day on this blog. There’s so much, I’ll never be able to capture it all and anyway, you’re developing a pleasing fondness for Oh, the Places You’ll Go! which says it all anyway, and better than I can right now.

I just want you to know: you’re awesome. And I love you. And I’ll keep telling you that every day, until it sinks in and just becomes noise to you and gets buried deep and then one day, when you’re lost in a Slump, and looking for a way out, you find it again. And take it out. And you can say to yourself, and believe it: I’m awesome.

Mummy x

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