Letter to my niece, year three

(i have written a letter every year, on my nieces birthday. you can read letter one here, and letter two here)

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Lily belle – you’re three years old today.

You are spunky, and hilarious. You have a laugh that lights up the whole room. You love moo moo cows and turtles and your baby dolls. You love to bake, just like me. You sit up on the counter with me and you know the difference between flour and sugar, where to find the vanilla in the pantry. The mixer is your favorite.

You’re learning your numbers. And how to dress yourself. You’re a picky little eater – you think sprinkles and frosting should be a food group.

This is my favorite age so far. You’re not as cuddly, but I’ve always loved spunk more than snuggles. You have opinions and you understand right from wrong and your temper tantrums usually have me in stitches. You had one recently that was just about wanting your dad to sit down. Literally. He wanted to stand. And you melted down.

I find myself wishing you could always stay this little, but then I change my mind, because I can’t wait to see you grow. Who you become. I am so proud of the person you’re going to be already

So lily belle here we are, another year and another letter.

this is my hope for you: that you always find the light.

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I’m writing this letter on November 9th, the day after Hillary Clinton lost the election. My heart is a little broken for all women today, sweet pea.

But this I know: we will find the light. Women always do.

Women have come before you and they have lit candles and torches for you. they paved the way for your right to vote, for your right to choose. There’s more to do – there’s so much more to do but this I promise you: I will hold a torch for you because when I look into those beautiful blue eyes, I know that I would do anything to give you every opportunity you deserve in life.

I will set bonfires for you to make sure you never feel like you are less because you are a woman. I will remind you that you have a spark that is irreplaceable and cannot be extinguished.

One day, beautiful girl, we will take a sledgehammer to that glass ceiling. There are spiderweb cracks from those who have come before. I don’t know when exactly, but my generation will find a way. We will light the way for one another. We have to.

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My wish for you is that you live in a world that thinks everyone deserve love, no matter who they love. That you see someone’s skin color as beautiful, no matter what shade it is. That everyone sees women as superheroes who are in fact capable of doing it all.

People in our family don’t always agree with my opinions (i’m a bit of the black sheep, you’ll see this) but I hope it shows you to use your own voice and you must use it, you must. Even if people disagree with you, even if you love them very much, that’s okay. I hope I can teach you that by example. I hope you’re proud of me for that. Listen to others thoughts and feelings and opinions, walk in their shoes as best you can. But stand behind your convictions, be brave, sweet girl. No matter what your opinions are, if you do that, I will be rooting you on. That’s what the world needs – more kindness, more love, more brave ones.

do you know that you wait in the driveway for me every time i come home? i already have a lead foot but knowing you’re waiting for me makes me drive like a bat out of hell.

every time i came to the lake this summer. you had your mini andorondeck chair, two puppies, water, a snack and an ipad. you set-up camp in the driveway until i arrive, even when your mom tells you i won’t be there for an hour. you wait with more patience than any two year olds have.. you wait, because you know maemae will come – and i promise you, i will always come to you when you need me. that will never change.

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i came home recently and you ran to me; you ran full force and you knew that i would catch you. i hadn’t been home in a couple of months, and for us that’s a long time. i’ve never felt a love like that. i’ve always had a hard time letting myself be loved, it’s not a quality i’m proud of – but you’re teaching me, sweet pea – know that your actions have the power to change people, to make an impact, even when you don’t realize it.

that night you asked me, “how cago going maemae?” and we chatted and i couldn’t believe how grown you seemed. your parents and mimi and chief were set to take a trip to seattle. i asked if you were excited and you looked at me and asked, “is maemae coming?” and i said no, i’m going to be in cago but i would see you soon and your bottom lip quivered and your eyes welled up with tears as you said “maemae not coming? maemae always going away.” and the next day, i booked a flight to seattle.

you hold more power than you know, lily belle. you have the power to show up for people, but you have the power to leave people and change them forever. both of those are equally important to understand.

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be brave, little one. speak up, even if your voice shakes. be heard. and when they call you bossy, tell them you’re showing leadership skills. when they tell you to sit there and look pretty, show them you’ll stand up and be pretty strong. show them you’re pretty smart. pretty kind. pretty talented. pretty badass.

and what might be the most important – when they look at someone else and say in one way or another, that they’re not good enough – you roar. promise me, you’ll do your very best to silence the bullies. because remember, bullies only try to make others feel inferior because they’re suffocated with that feeling themselves.

the key to my happiness has always lied in being my own best friend. i have my moments of doubt, of weakness, but i know who i am. i trust my gut. my instincts. be resolute, lily belle. be a barometer of truth.

always find the light, bright little one. and i promise to do my very best to light the way for you, sweet girl. Until you are ready to do it on your own.

i love you with my whole heart,

aunt maemae

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