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Now You Are Five: A Letter To My Daughter

Dear Emma,

I’ve had this post open for five days now, as many days as you’ve racked up in years. My Best Girl has made a whole handful of trips around the sun, and I find myself at a loss for words when it comes to sharing what this means for me. And for you. For us.

Parenting you is not at all like I imagined it would be, though to be fair, I’m not really sure what I imagined when we learned you were a girl.

I decided we weren’t going to indoctrinate you into “girl culture” by bombarding you with pink and princesses. You decided you were going to love pink and princesses anyway. From very, very early on, it was clear you had your own ideas about the world and how it worked, and I hope we’ve never discouraged you from expressing yourself and exploring life.

I knew I wanted you to be fierce. I wanted you to stand up for yourself and others, to refuse to put up with people’s nonsense. I believed it was my place to teach you those things. It was up to me to teach you how to be a girl in this world.

Emma, you are all the things I’ve ever wanted for you and so much more. And the funny thing is, I didn’t have to teach you any of it. It’s just who you are.

You are fierce. You are determined. You are brave. There is almost nothing you won’t try.

Sometimes you turn that determination on me and your dad and, I’ll admit, that can be a little frustrating. I find myself caught between wanting to teach you that you can’t always get what you want (because you can’t) and rewarding you for refusing to give up.

(But really. When you ask for something, we heard you. Asking repeatedly until we get what you need won’t make us move faster. Especially when you’re totally capable of getting your own cup of water.)

There are times and places when not giving in is the right decision. There are times when it’s okay to walk away. There are times when you are going to hear “no.”

In the spirit of your tenacity, one thing I want you to know is that life is about progress over perfection.

I’ve seen you “mess up” on a drawing and break down in tears because it “wasn’t perfect.” To me, it’s still beautiful because it’s your creation, though I know that’s not how things work. Not everyone will think your mistakes are beautiful. But as long as you learn from them, it’s okay to make them.

It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to fail. Channel your inner Poppy and when life knocks you over, get back up again. Resilience is one of the best qualities we can have in this life.

Resilience and empathy.

You have a big heart for others, especially your brother. Rarely do you go anywhere without thinking of what he’d like. If you get to go to the store to pick out a special prize, you think “we should get Joshua something too.”

It makes my heart explode to watch the two of you getting along, working together, playing, reading, sharing a bond only brothers and sisters can share. But it makes me cranky when you fight, so I’d love it if you could both remember that we have to live here together in this house for a long time. It’s okay to walk away from the fight sometimes. That’s a lesson that will serve you well in life, too.

I want so much for you, little one. Mostly I want joy. Not the kind of happiness that is based in ignorance and never experiencing discomfort, but true joy that comes from finding your own way and finding happiness in life.

When we got your ears pierced, a special thing you’ve waited patiently to do for nearly a year and a half, the piercer, Gigi, said “you two seem like you have a lot of fun together.”

Oh, Emma. My heart grew a little hearing that. I don’t know that I’d realized it, but we do have fun together. So much fun. You are my sidekick. My mini-me.

My Best Girl.

I love you, now and forever.


Now You Are Five, Caffeine & Cabernet


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