To My Daughter on Your Birthday

Miranda smiling
My daughter Miranda.
My daughter Miranda.

Remember this:

You are strong. You are smart. You are beautiful.

These are the three things I’ve repeatedly told you, and they reflect my hopes and dreams for your life as you continue growing into adulthood.

I see your STRENGTH in the volume of your spirit, the way you so readily find genuine joy and laughter, plus your empathy for others. You are a peacemaker, a bridge connecting people. Anyone can be hateful or destructive, but it takes a strong conviction to see the good in people when there’s so much bad in the world. I wish strength for you as you continue this journey of life, that you draw upon the will to carry on and never give up. Ever.

Believe in the possibilities and potential within you. Live this life with as much strong feeling as you can, even though it will occasionally hurt and sometimes you will want to close off the world to protect yourself. You will feel pain that springs from being open to the universe, but that is the price of experiencing great joy.

With 14 years seemingly whooshing past me, I can attest that life is too short. Be strong so you can weather the storms of life and ascend from the valleys to bask in the sunshine of the peaks that inevitably follow. Have the strength to avoid self-pity when things do not go your way and the disappointment makes you feel as if you’re broken. Challenge yourself to realize the next layer beyond who you already are and display the strength of will to muscle through lethargy and adversity alike.

Secondly, you are indeed SMART, a reflection of my own intellect, the echo of my attitudes and beliefs. Your mother and I have shaped you, but now you are growing “beyond your original programming”. How delightful it is to have deep conversations with someone who was, a few years ago, just a little girl giggling about toilet humor.

You are doing well in school, so I am proud of you for applying yourself and realizing the importance of your education, but beyond grades, I see you also becoming a richly textured person who can question things and arrive at your own beliefs – rather than merely mirroring everything that I think. I wish for you to always rely on your intelligence, to commit yourself to lifelong learning and think before you leap. You’ll avoid many stumbles if you simply analyze situations and calmly arrive at decisions about the best actions to take. I wish for you to achieve excellence and self-reliance based on what you learn so you accomplish all of your goals, fulfill each of your dreams, growing into a complete person capable of doing what you discover that you love and getting paid richly for it.

Finally, BEAUTY. The least of these three things I wish for you, yet something you possess in such abundance. Not merely physical beauty, but a radiant personality and a gorgeous personality that attracts people. When I see your friends appreciating your uniqueness at long last, it warms my heart that others finally see you the way I always have. I knew that one day your classmates would catch up to you and realize what a truly special, funny and caring person you are. It’s tough to be an original until your differences are recognized and celebrated.

I know that it is tough to be a young woman in such a shallow world where girls are often pressured to degrade themselves to get the attention of boys. Realize your true beauty is not what you look like but who you are, shining from the inside out. Don’t allow anyone to make you think that you are less than absolutely magnificent in every possible way. Don’t compare yourself to others and feel as if you are unworthy because they own something you lack. You are every bit as deserving and special as anyone else. Know it and you will show it.

Miranda smiling
My beautiful daughter. That smile warms the world.

I am proud of you because I see these qualities in you.

You ARE strong. You ARE smart. You ARE beautiful.

I hope someday you find your companion in life who loves you as much as your daddy adores you. Never settle for less than that and know your value as a unique and lovely person. My love for you is unconditional and eternal. If you know nothing else with certainty, know that fact and wear it like a blanket for the rest of your days to keep you warm and confident.

I hope that someday, if you want, you get to experience the sense of purpose that drives your mother and I to be there for you, cheering you on with each step you take toward becoming unmistakably wonderful you.

Happy Birthday, Miranda.