A Letter to my Daughter

 

NOTE: I never use my kids' real names on the blog. I just feel better knowing their names aren't out there where they can be easily found. I'm sure someone could find their names another way, but it won't be from me.

A Letter to my Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Hopefully, this letter will stand the test of time and be accessible by those progeny who come after both of us. I want them to know, as well as you, to know how much I love you. I can't begin to properly express how you mean the world to me, and so much more.

I remember the day you were born with an interesting point of view. I wasn't your mother and could not carry you. I wasn't the doctor, who knew what to look for and where. There were a plethora of things happening all around the world, as well as all around me, and I had no care for any of it. Waiting for you seemed like double the months it took to grow inside your mommy: nine months of waiting and watching and wondering, followed by several long hours, which felt like months, of anticipation to hold you.

I was unprepared. I could have read every book and watched every video - I probably could have peeked in on hundred of live births, and still I would have been unprepared. During those agonizing minutes as you were ready to enter the world, a nurse scared me by having me help with the delivery. I was there to see you emerge into this world. RIGHT THERE.

Just thinking of that moment brings such tears to my eyes. I find it difficult to write. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

You were so small and fragile. You needed us so much. I never before felt the need of another that powerfully.

You were such a peculiar baby. We had childproofed our house before you were born, but I'm not sure we really needed to. We were always so worried you'd hit your head on the brick hearth of the fireplace, or get into something. You got around fine.

As you grew up, you were a fixture in our lives. I remember coming home to you and your mommy and being so grateful to come home and see you and be around you. I know that I had my frustrations with you at times, but I can't remember them anymore. Really, they were unimportant.

You were usually we well-natured baby. You enjoyed being held, and weren't too concerned with who held you. On Sundays, you wouldn't let me put you down while at church. Someone had to hold you or rock you, whether it was in Sunday school class or all those hours I spent walking through the halls of the building. I loved it when you fell asleep on my shoulder.

As you started making noises, I recorded your sounds onto a cassette tape, then converted them into a digital format on the computer. I still have those sound files, both on my computer and backed up on CD.

As you were learning to walk, you once fell asleep standing up with your upper body laying on the couch. There's a picture of it in the house. You've seen it many times. I will always cherish that moment.

When we moved to Utah, you were so innocent, naive, and excited. You wanted to ride with me in the U-Haul truck. You didn't give much thought to the long trip. For you, it was exciting. For me, it was an unknown and scary step. It was a life-changing journey for the both of us.

I recall the day you started preschool. You thought it was going to be loads of fun. I felt like I was starting to lose you, at least the innocent baby version of you. I was so proud, and yet, so worried how we'd develop together.

You were there in the hospital right before you brother was born. You were spared the sight of the actual birth - we thought it would terrify you to see your mother in that situation. Your aunt stayed with you while it happened, then brought you in once everything was done. Without hesitation you became the most amazing older sister within seconds of your brother's arrival.

When you started Kindergarten, you were excited to be in school with older kids. You loved your class. You loved the playground outside your school. Others became aware of what your parents had known for a while: that you're exceptionally intelligent.

Even now, three years later, I'm amazed by your ability to grasp math. One day, you wanted to know what "times" meant in math. I explained it as best I could come up with: counting by numbers. If I asked you what 2x3 was, you'd simply count by twos three times. I don't think math came that easily for me.

You almost always score high on your spelling tests. Last year we had to drill the words a lot, and I think you picked up on some of the ways words are spelled. Of the words you don't know how to spell correctly, you spell phonetically - you spell them how you hear them. Somewhere in your brain, you've wired the phonetic part of your brain with the logical and memory parts of your brain to come up with logical and often correct results.

At eight, you're frustratingly stubborn. You want to be so very independent, which you learned from both your parents. When we tried to use logic on you to get you to do something, such as get ready for bed, you combat our logic with your own. If I give you the choice of brushing your teeth first, or getting jammies on first, you'll tell me you want neither and put up your defenses. You're eight going on eighteen.

You're like a rock sometimes - the good kind and the bad kind. Often, it takes way too long to get you to do anything. You're obstinate and difficult unless you get your way. You know when to turn on charm, when to be lovey, or when to be obnoxious to try and get your way. Sometimes you're as immovable as a mountain.

You've also been steady against the storms of life. When your mother and I separated, as we've started our own independent lives, you've held up very well. It's been obvious to me how much you've been effected by it, and yet, you find the strength to be strong.

When I was sick in October of 2007, you helped watch your brother and tend to the house while I was stuck in bed. Often, I was too weak to do anything, and you were right there to help me without hesitation. I have relied on you too much for someone your age, but I know without a doubt that you would have been helpful and concerned anyway. Despite the moments where you would rather do anything other than what your father tell you to do, you have those moments where you'd do just about as much for me as I would do for you.

You are one of the most inviting people I know. As a toddler, you had little fear of strangers - so much so it used to scare us when you'd talk to people in public places. You were not very shy around people - the opposite of who I was as a child. Your willingness to accept others has allowed you to find other kids to play with. It's gotten you in trouble when you follow some kid home. You've accepted friends of your parents' with little question, but you've allowed room for inquisition when you don't understand who someone is or when something is going on. You've accepted the women I've dated since breaking up with your mother. You seem to see Jill as a stepmother, though you're the first to note that it's not an official thing.

You're creative, inquisitive, interesting, and loving. You're smart, funny, supportive, and helpful. You're also such a beautiful little girl. I know you'll be the most amazing woman someday. You are, and will always be, one of my proudest accomplishments in life.

The thought of watching you grow into a teenager, learning how to drive, growing from your own mistakes, dating boys, going to college, finding a man better and stronger than your own father... growing up... terrifies me, and yet, fills me with hope, love, and joy.

Never accept less than the best from this world, but never forget the simplicity of it as well. Follow the example of your grandparents and give. Give your love, your time, your talents, and whatever you can spare to this world and to your own family. Don't ever forget your own ancestors, where you come from, where you've been. Remember that thirteen generations of Palmatiers have come before you. Some of them worked hard to pass on a better life to their children. Some of them gave everything for the future generations.

Please, with all my heart, never forget how much I love you. How much I will always love you.

Always your loving father,

Daddy

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Added June 11, 2010

In the two years since I wrote this letter to my daughter, I've received several hits on this post (3735, at the time of this addition, to be precise).  Today, I added "Letters" as a category under writing, and added the category to the other letters I've written over the years.  Please feel free to look at the other letters I've written to my kids and others.  Thanks for reading!