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A Letter to My Almost Grown Up Daughter: Love Lessons on Authenticity

Posted Jul 09 2014 1:52pm



Dear Mika,

The last few weeks have presented me with some of the scariest, and simultaneously most empowering, moments I’ve ever known as a parent. Forgive me for choosing a public forum to share this letter with you, but it felt like the right thing to do. (And hey… maybe this will be your chance to be “Facebook famous” ;-))

“10,” I thought. “I’ll be really big when I’m 10!” I was probably 7 when I stood there next to the stove in the kitchen pondering the possibility that I would one day hit the double digits!

In that same year I dressed up as a princess for Halloween (ate so much candy I threw up), got a Barbie camper for Christmas, slept in Strawberry Shortcake sheets (with matching wallpaper) and had my very first sleepover PJ party!

But of all the things I remember in the year I yearned to be 10, one thing stands out more than any other–a sun-bleached piece of paper stuck on the fridge.

It read:

by Alice E. Chase

My hands were busy through the day,
I didn’t have much time to play
The little games you asked me to,
I didn’t have much time for you.

But when you’d bring your picture book
I’d wash your clothes; I’d sew and cook,
And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I’d say, “A little later, hon.”

I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers, turn out the light,
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.

For life is short, and years rush past,
A little child grows up so fast,
No longer is he at your side,
With precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away,
There are no longer games to play,
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy, now lie still,
The days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
The little things you asked me to.

I memorized that poem before I was old enough to reach my own cookies out of the cookie jar, but the fact that it was on the fridge in the first place is a beautiful testament to my mom. Consciously and unconsciously, this poem had a lot to do with my choice to organize my life and career to be there when you needed me. I didn’t know that would prove most valuable when you were already well skilled at wiping your own bottom and getting yourself dressed (though I think you still may need help making that a much faster process).

I’ve had my fair share of failures along the path of parenthood, Mika, but over the last 14 years, in spite of my shortcomings, I chose to wake up every morning and renew my commitment to be the best mom I could. Every day I got a little better than the day before, but that was enough to get us this far.

The last few weeks, watching you navigate your way through a world loaded with traps, I’ve never felt more challenged to believe in myself as a mom, to believe in us as a team, and to trust that you’d find your way.

But we’ve come a long way and tonight as I watched you, you were more beautiful than I can ever remember. It wasn’t your clothes (far too much cleavage for my taste!), it wasn’t your make-up (Maybelline is my archenemy), and it wasn’t your hair (though I did love the frizzy display of curls brought on by a humid summer day). Tonight you were honest, authentic and courageous enough to rise to the challenge of waking up with a renewed commitment to be the best person you could be.

That was my cue. Moved by your courage, I decided to sit down and write you a love letter with these three tips to turn to should you need them from here:

Through a parade of photoshop-cropped images and the obnoxious opinions of others, Life will do its very best to convince you you’re not smart enough, pretty enough, fast enough, skinny enough, rich enough, right enough, or tough enough to have and do and be whatever you want.

If you believe that, it will be true.

On days when the glossy posters and peanut gallery fall away, there will be moments when you recognize your enoughness. You’ll experience a flash of confidence that you can. You’ll feel yourself rise to the realization that you are enoughsmart enough, fast enough, tough enough, tall enough, good enough, gorgeous enough to pursue your dreams and make them happen.

If you believe that, it will also be true.

In spite of your best efforts to stay on the straight and narrow, you will screw up, stumble and dip your toes in trouble. When it happens, you’ll be struck with the temptation to paint a less painful version of the story with white lies and little twists of truth hoping it might hurt less.

But truth hurts.

If you err on spitting out truth (no matter how uncomfortable) you will be rejected, piss people off, and lose “friends” because you chose to stand for things you believe in.

It’s never comfortable to confess to stupid mistakes or hold your chin high once harm has been caused. But better you sit in the fire of personal responsibility for a few moments of pain, than live a lifetime of regret, cowardice and lies.

While you may be able to twist truth without being discovered by others, you’ll never fool yourself with even the craftiest and most creative of lies. The degree of confidence, pleasure and success you will allow yourself to have in life has everything to do with how clean you keep your hands.

When you say no to the boy that “doesn’t quite cut it” so you can keep hoping for one that does, you risk being alone for a while. When you speak your mind, your risk losing the favour of “friends” who don’t agree. When you avoid being like others and dare to stay true to your values, your goals and your dreams–your risk isolation.

But if you surrender the fire in your spirit to the status quo, life will become dull and sensations unfulfilling.

Never submit your heart for long to a love that doesn’t light you on fire. Expect your kisses to be electric. Never risk being “likeable” over being Mika. If you paint yourself to be a version of who you believe others  want you to be, one day when the mask falls off you’ll find your surrounded by strangers and the biggest of them, will be you.

The reward for courage when you walk your own path is certainty–a sense of knowing who you are and believing in yourself, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

Few mothers will ever have the freedom or opportunity to spend the time I’ve been able to spend with you. Few people will ever had a full time cheerleader to help drag them up out of the mud when they fall down. You’re on your way up, the view looks good, and there’s a lot of road to travel from here.

I’ve watched you make bold and beautiful steps in the right direction. I’ve placed your foot many times on the trail that leads out of the mud. But I can’t walk this road for you. The only person who can take the next steps in the right direction, is you. Until the day you decide to step forward because you want to, as a result of your effort more than mine, you can never really say you’re walking your own path. (It would be more like I’m nudging you very convincingly down the one I think is best. ;-))

So from here on out, you’re on your own. I’ll still love you and feed you and be here when you need it, but it’s time for me to pass you your unicorn horn. The magic of an infinite universe of possibilities is yours for the taking, but the courage to take it needs to be yours. Not because I told you, not because I wanted it for you, not because I nudged, prodded or persuaded you to do it.

Because amidst a million temptations, distractions, diversions and invitations to otherwise, you chose to stay true to you.

Love and a glittery unicorn horn,

Mom




Posted in Tera's Tid Bits | 25 Comments »

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  1. By Helen on Jul 9, 2014

    You two are amazing! Mika, even though these words are written to you, they have touched my soul. For far too long I hid behind what others believed was best for me and I lost me. I am still searching, but the journey is incredible! Especially with you and your mom in it. Love ya. xoxoxo

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    Thanks so much, Helen!! <3

    [Reply]

  2. By Maya on Jul 9, 2014

    Tera, wow – what a beautiful letter. It has really inspired me and reminded me how important it is to have faith in myself and staying true and committed to my heart. Any daughter would be fortunate to receive such support and guidance from her mom.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    Thanks, Maya! So glad it touched you!

    [Reply]

  3. By Diane on Jul 9, 2014

    What a beautiful love letter to your beautiful daughter. Thank you for sharing such a personal post.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    Thank you for taking the time to read it.

    [Reply]

  4. By Lidia on Jul 9, 2014

    Oh myyyyyyyy, that is one beauuuuuuuutiful and very inspiring letter that could apply to just about everyone I know, including me. Thank you for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    ;-) Thanks, Lidia. That was what I was hoping to hear. Love, Tera

    [Reply]

  5. By Jeannie on Jul 9, 2014

    Beautiful.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    :-)

    [Reply]

  6. By Carolyn on Jul 9, 2014

    Beautiful, inspiring words.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    :-)

    [Reply]

  7. By Shelley on Jul 9, 2014

    Thanks mom, I need this!! Oh how I need this!! This has really touched me at a time when I definitely need touching. Grateful for your inspiration to post this publicly.
    Mika, it was so nice to get to know you in May. You were so kind and generous toward me, when really, you didn’t have to be. You are a beautiful. kind, loving soul with the strength of a lioness!

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    We love you, Shelley!!!

    [Reply]

  8. By Yana Good on Jul 9, 2014

    Darling Tera,

    you and your work has inspired and supported me through out the years…
    every one of your posts has evoked deep gratitude and my heart poured out to you an ocean of blessings…

    This mother’s letter is SO timely to All of us 14, 24, 34, 44, 54….
    we all need the reminder that only My Own authentic Beauty and Truth is my saving Grace today and always….
    Blessings and Love,
    Yana

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    Thanks SO much for sharing this Yana. I really appreciate your heartfelt words. Love, Tera

    [Reply]

  9. By Shirley on Jul 9, 2014

    Tera-
    THANK YOU! Going on a personal journey of self-discovery and self-recovery right now from a past of hurt and disillusionment. Your BEAUTIFUL letter of LOVE to your daughter speaks VOLUMES! What an INSPIRATION of hope-courage-strength that speaks to all of all ages! What a healing format! Your words of hope and encouragement and strength are what I would have loved to have been showered with from the onset of childhood and would have definitely been a platform for the path of my journey. Thank you for your generosity to share.
    Love and blessings.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 9th, 2014

    Hi Shirley! Thanks for your kind words. You can let yourself experience it and life in a whole, new unit of time. It’s never to late to start living anew all over again!! Love and thanks. Tera

    [Reply]

  10. By Susan on Jul 9, 2014

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful love letter. It is definitely a message that would touch all women. You are a wonderful mother for expressing such a great message to Mika. I know the two of you have and will have a strong relationship for a long time.

    [Reply]

  11. By Paulina on Jul 9, 2014

    Dear Tera: I’m not your daughter and you’re not my mother…But I’ll borrow this beautiful letter for my own path if you allow it.
    Thank you so much.

    [Reply]

    Reply by admin on July 10th, 2014

    Sure, Paulina! Thanks for reading.

    [Reply]

  12. By Beatriz on Jul 9, 2014

    Lucky daughter …. wonderful Mom, wonderful daughter, fantastic Mom! The very best, always, to both of you!

    [Reply]

  13. By Lee Dunne on Jul 10, 2014

    ….AMAZING….

    [Reply]

  14. By Florence Nyoike on Jul 10, 2014

    Thanks for sharing so inspiring and touching. Speaks to me personally. After 21 years in an abusive relationship and 3 adult children. Still in self discovery. This could not have come at a better time for me. I did the best I could for my children but I was right in the mud with them. God bless you.

    [Reply]

  15. By clare on Jul 10, 2014

    My daughter and her two daughters are always on my mind, in my heart, and related to the current event of the day, from shopping, incentive to keep moving, or just plain movtivation to thrive. This letter just came back to me from my daughter. She said, So lovely…especially since I always have a little girle crying in the background at all times.

    Tera, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I forwarded it to her. Today has been more than a challenge to feel worthy of being present in their lives. Having sent this to my daughter and received it back with that wonderful comment, feels like a renewal that I can’t describe.

    Thank You for turning me back Ters. I was slipping down the garden spout with the Itsy Bitsy Spider; and the Sun Wasn’t Coming Back Out.

    Forever Grateful!!!

    c

    [Reply]

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