To My Sweet Little “Barb” on Your 8th Birthday,
This letter will likely serve as no significance to you today because it is long, has a lot of words, and I know that the birthday party that awaits you at Chuck E. Cheese with your friends, cake, laughter and fun is far more exciting than this piece of paper you are currently holding. However, I am going to save this for you, and I hope that you will pull it out as you age and read it at different times throughout your life.
First off, I am so incredibly proud to be your mom. Many days, I don’t feel deserving of you. How I ended up with a sidekick as amazing as you is far beyond me. As I sit and try to think of an adjective to describe you, there is not one that I can use to sum up how much joy you bring to life, how much you have improved me as a person, how much I love you, and how truly magnificent you are.
I picked you up from after-school care this week and your teacher said to me “Your girl. Wow. She is just so incredibly sweet, Ashley. She plays so well with others, she entertains herself, she follows instructions and listens well, and most of all, she is so kind to everyone. I love seeing her here.”
Now, Haydan, this is something that I’ve heard since you were old enough to speak. I’ve heard over and over, each year you’ve had new teachers or figures of authority in your life, from other parents, from family members—how well behaved you are, how kind you are, and most of all, what a giving and soft heart you have.
No matter what happens in your life, please don’t ever lose that. There will come times where that heart is stomped on, and you will feel the need to harden yourself, but don’t. Continue to love the way you do, forgive the way you do, and see the beauty in life in the unique way that you do. This makes you “Haydan”/“Barb Marley”.
Your tiny body contains so much zest; it truly amazes me. I’ve not met another person in the world who holds so much love, humor, passion, wit, and kindness in their soul. You have a way of seeing people in a way that so few do; your ability to recognize suffering or sadness in others and lend a hand, or say a prayer, and your ability to find funny wherever you go- yet another thing I ask you to never let go of. Grasp tightly to that. Some days these qualities may feel like burdens as sometimes empathy can be exhausting, but again, never let that go. It is a gift to feel for others the way that you do, and you are blessed to have the heart that you do.
Always stand up for yourself. Remember to use eye contact, a direct tone, and never threaten or yell. It is okay to stand up for yourself, it is okay to tell people when they cross a line, and though I am here for you right now as your mom to protect you from that, there will come a time and place when you need to know these things and handle them without me. Listen to me on this one- It is okay to stand up for yourself, it is okay to tell people if you are uncomfortable with the way they are talking to you. Never be frightened to look someone in the eye and tell them how you feel, that what they are doing makes you sad, angry, or hurt inside. You will never get in trouble for standing up for yourself, and you need to remember that and never forget it. Take stand when something doesn’t seem right, and do so with confidence.
Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. If you plan to do something, do it. Don’t share your friends secrets that they’ve shared with you. Never hurt someone else because you might be hurting at that moment. Always remember that someone else might be fighting a battle that has nothing to do with you. Remember that. Not everyones actions and words make sense outwardly, so try your best to choose your words wisely and be understanding, even when it doesn’t make sense.
It is okay to let people into your life, and it is equally okay to let them leave your life. You will grow to learn that this is a part of your life plan; people will pass through, you will learn from them and their actions, and they will teach you lessons about yourself, life, and who you want to be as a person, or in some cases, what you don’t want to be. Some of these experiences may hurt, but unfortunately, that’s part of the process. I promise you that every painful experience you encounter in life will shape you in some way, just as the beautiful and happy moments will, too; treat those experiences as learning opportunities, and keep growing.
You will not be the best at everything you do- and you need to know that is okay. You can only be the best at one thing- which is being you.
You will make mistakes- many, many mistakes. This is also okay. All you can do is learn from them- that is all I ask of you as your mom.
Being weird is good. Some say it’s a side effect of being awesome. If someone calls you weird, thank them. Take it as a compliment.
One day, someone will break your heart and you will feel as though the world has ended. It has not. You will love more than once.
Your body is yours and no one else’s. Who you share your body with is up to you, but as your mother, I hope when you read this 20 years from now, you will understand why I said no to crop tops and booty shorts.
Lastly, and most importantly, never forget your worth, your value. Haydan Marley/Barb Marley, you are invaluable. You bring something to this world that not any other person can- yourself. Take pride in knowing that- I sure do.
I love you more than any human or dinosaur on the planet, and I thank-you for being truly the most amazing little soul. You are a beam of sunshine to not just Papa and I, but to so many others as well. I love you, Haydan.
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