Every Little Piece

Emilia,

It’s been a while since I’ve written a letter like this. This one is important to me and it’s something I need to write down to remember to enforce every day in myself.

The first time I looked in the mirror and saw beauty there, I was in my 20’s. I have heard the word my entire life, but it was the first time I saw it myself. With naked lashes and spotty skin, I admired the shape of my jaw, the strength of my chin, the size of my eyes… I saw someone who I could love.

Now that I have you (and you are what it took to see myself clearly) I realize how important it is to feel that way. How important it is to bury that self-love deep into your soul.

From this point on I will make up for all of those years I missed. I will love myself now, because now is where we exist; you and I in this moment that we’re so lucky to have.

I am not perfect, but I am beautiful. I am strong. I am confident.  I am secure.

You are all of these things, too. Right now. In all of your two-year old glory. You are SO fierce. So beautiful and strong. You will do it “all by yourself.” And you do, you almost always do. At the same time, you don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. I admire you so much for that. You’ve taught me that strength comes not only from independence, but recognizing limits and seeking support.

When I told you your hair was crazy, you corrected me right away, “No, my hair is BEAUTIFUL, Mom.”

And it was. You are always beautiful.

Your anger is beautiful and a force of its own. You lash out, you scream, you don’t want to be touched or spoken to. I stay back, but still as near as I can. I sit there with my arms open and my lap waiting and you come to me, you crawl into it and your hug is just as powerful. I love you so much then. I love every tear that spills over, every scream that rocks my core. You’re so beautiful in that moment it breaks my heart.

Your love is beautiful and more gentle than I ever would have expected. You caress my face and pat my hair and look deep into my eyes. “You love me mommy?” Yes, baby, I love you so so so much! “I love you so much, too. I’ll keep you safe.” Emi, my fierce little girl, that will never be your job. I will always be your  mother, you will never have to take my responsibility onto your shoulders. Broad like mine, yet so delicate, you will always be free to be a kid.

That little sigh you make right before you fall asleep, the way your breath hitches twice; your hand gripping mine from the backseat as my arm goes numb; the way you sing E I, E I, O; the way your whole face frowns; the way you smile all the way to your toes; the color of your skin and your hair and your eyes and your lips and your nail beds; your very faint scar; your endless bruises; your baby teeth gap; your voice; your cry; it is all so very, very beautiful.

By the time you are old enough to read this, Taylor Swift probably won’t be music you listen to, but you’ll know every word to this song anyway.

I love you, little big girl.

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Every Little Piece

Why Words Matter

I can run down a mountain like the wind. My toes barely touch the dirt before I lift off, every rock that is dangerous to someone else is a spring board to me. I run, leap, and slide like I was designed for it. I’m sure I don’t look graceful, but I am able.

Yet, my entire life I have believed I was clumsy. Uncoordinated. Accident-prone. I tripped and stumbled and fell often, not just literally but figuratively. I didn’t feel capable, not like I do now. That was who I was, I was the clumsy one, the gangly girl — all knees and elbows. The one who couldn’t ever be a ballerina because face it Melanie, you just aren’t graceful enough.

Words have a tendency to become reality. What you believe is what you do. If you don’t think you can, you won’t. If you are told you can’t often enough, you just might start to believe it. So I am very careful with my words now, especially with Emi.

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I don’t call her clumsy. I don’t tell her she can’t, that she’s too small, that she isn’t strong enough. You want to lift mommy’s tire? Go for it! You can’t right now? Try again tomorrow. Tomorrow you’ll be stronger. When we fear for our children, we put fear into them. So, I tell her she is strong, fierce, a hard worker, insistant, and capable. I believe she is able and I speak strength into her.

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I still set limits for her, I don’t let her do everything she wants just because she thinks she can, but I try not to interfere if I can help it. I mean, she’ll have to hold off on the knife juggling until she’s four. Until then, I let her try. I let her fail. Most times, I let her fall. And you know what? She gets back up. She always gets back up.

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She needs to learn her own limits, to learn to not only trust her body but to respect it. How can she listen to herself if I am constantly shouting over her? Instead, I sit quietly by. Far enough back that she isn’t in my shadow. And when she needs it, when she looks my way with hesitant eyes, I tell her “I believe in you.”

Because she can do it, she can do anything.

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Why Words Matter