My Baby Girl,
I don’t even know you yet, but I feel as if we are already best friends. I close my eyes and imagine your sweet baby scent, smooth caramel skin, your dark curly hair and bold beautiful eyes. In my dreams, we share many qualities. Your smile is bright. Your mind is sharp. You are perfectly packaged in every way and you are a precious gift from God that your father and I will cherish forever.
Today marks the International Day of the Girl-child. This is an important day for me, for us. I was a girl child; I will raise a girl child; I have witnessed the challenges and successes experienced by girl children in communities where I have worked and lived. And I recognize how fortunate I am to have been born in a place and environment where I was able to harness opportunity and flourish. I didn’t worry about daily hunger, access to education or feeling safe. And as an adolescent, I was able to express my thoughts and opinions and exercise my rights and ability to participate fully in my family and community. This is not a universal reality. Far from it. We are in a world where men are born with power. Girls have to command it for themselves.
I’ve been thinking endlessly about you and my hopes and dreams for you. I’ve been thinking about the kind of mother I want to be for you and about the kind of world I want you to grow up in.
My little girl, I want you to know that I will always do my best for you. I will do all that I can, now, next month, and always, to give you the best life I can. I will try my utmost to make the right choices for you and set the right limits for you. And, my little girl, I will always be there, standing beside you as you make your own way in the world.
I want to live my life in a way you will want to live yours. I want to be a woman you look to for inspiration. I want to be guided by values and goals and morals and dreams that you too will aspire to. I want to behave in a way that fosters your ambitions and encourages you to live a life that is full and adventurous (just like my mum, your grandma, did for me).
I hope, my little girl, that you will learn to be good and kind and gentle and giving. I hope, my daughter, that you will learn from the people around you that life is best lived with love in your heart. I am sure you will.
Dream… and reach for the stars. Nothing is out of reach for you although our society will frequently tell you different. We live in a day in age where women are often put down, hurt by other women, or told they shouldn’t be proud of their accomplishments in life. You should always be proud, and never feel bad about doing good in life.
Know that no matter what you do in life, your father and I will always be proud of you. As will everyone in your life that loves you, which is a ton of people. You are beautiful. No matter what some billboard on the side of the highway sets the standard of good looks, or what you should look like. As long as you are happy and beautiful on the inside, that is all you will need in life.
Don’t worry about your future… don’t worry about what you want to be when you grow up, or what society says you should be. Do what makes you happy, accomplish what feels right to you, and remember how important education is in life.
Love… but love those who are worth the gift of your own love in return. Don’t put up with people who are wreckless with your heart. You are worth much more than any silly boy.
Life is not a race, or a game. Sometimes you will be ahead, and sometimes you will behind… it comes with the territory. If you sweat it too much, all of the amazing opportunities you have will pass you by.
Have passion in life. Find a cause that grabs you, something important to you that will help you make a difference as a woman.
Be proud to be a woman… be lucky to be a strong woman… and don’t let others in life tell you that you are more difficult, or anything less than a man. You are equal, you always will be, and don’t let that slip away.
Be close with your extended family. They love you very much already even before you are with us. They will protect you, and you should protect them… have their back, they will always have yours. And some day when your father and I are gone… they may be all you have left of us. Love them.
Friends are a dime a dozen… there are very few that will stand by your side for life. Don’t be hurt when friendships break, and people move on… It is a part of life that I learned the hard way.
But, my baby, I fear for you, too. I fear that one day you will know sadness and grief and unkindness and suffering. For the world is not only made of the things we want, it is also made up of the evil and ugly. I hope that you always keep an open mind and heart. The world is a big, scary, awful and sometimes hurtful place. I never want you to be naive about that fact. However, it can also be so beautiful, magical and full of wonder. That’s the part of the world you have to search for and go after yourself. Trust me when I tell you, you’ll find it. I hope you always stop to appreciate the so many good things life has to offer. Be humble about your blessings and thank God often…He created this world for us and created you. The world will someday be at your feet, my sweet girl. You will be able to make your mark and I will always be there to support and encourage you to chase your dreams, no matter what (just like my mummy also did for me). I hope to shelter you as long as I can, to protect you and to guide you towards all that is good. And, my baby, when you one day learn of the rest that is there, I hope I have given you the love in your heart and the beliefs in your soul to see you through.
It is a lot to take in, but just know you are worth far more than people will say, or society will make you feel. You are a beautiful, strong, and amazing woman. You are lucky to live at a time when we as women have so many rights, that all the women before you have fought for. You will be educated, empowered and given the tools you need to survive, on your own if you must.
To my baby, I promise to love you, to do my best for you, and to always be here for you. I hope your heart and soul is always filled with love, and I believe it will be – for it is with love that you have already filled mine. In summary, remember:
1. Develop a healthy definition of yourself.
2. Build bridges with people, do not put up walls.
3. Ambition is the new fashion statement. Chase dreams, not men.
4. When in doubt, hold God’s hand and He will lead you to the truth.
5. And always remember that you are on this earth for a unique purpose. This moment – right now – is your life. Say yes to it and live it to the fullest.
I love you.