You are almost four months old! I was just thinking today how excited I am for you to pick your very own American Girl doll, just like Mommy has. I got "Anna" when I was in 6th grade. I picked her because she had brown hair and brown eyes.
I can't wait for you to pick your dolly, to look just like you, and name her whatever you want. We can wait until you're a little older for that. You have so many dollies and lovies already. When you're 7 or 8 you can truly appreciate a dolly that looks just like you, and care for her and dress her and bring her along wherever you go, just like Mommy did when she was a little girl.
I want you to know Daddy and I are so excited to see you grow up. You are so smart and have already accomplished so much! We can't wait to see what you'll look like as you continue to develop. Dad thinks you will be taller than both of us, and I don't disagree.
Just like my mom (your Grandma Ruth) taught me, you can be anything you want to be, and Dad and I will support all of your interests and passions, whether you choose ballet or swimming or soccer or art or basketball or clarinet or dance or magic tricks or something completely unheard of or all of the above. You can try all the activities you want.
I want to teach you how to be a strong girl who turns into a strong woman. This doesn't just mean standing up for yourself and following what you believe in. It doesn't just mean doing the right thing even when nobody's looking, or telling the truth even if it's not the most popular thing to do.
It means loving and trusting those around you. Let your friends and family in, and let them help you and support you. Some of Mommy's best friends are friends she's had since preschool. That is no accident. When you find good friends, keep them. They will be your soul mates throughout life. Treat them right.
It means believing in your dreams and passions, even if they seem silly. Draw, write, play. Experience and explore. Find what interests you and embrace it. It may change every day, or it may never change. Let it change, let it evolve. But never let it out of your sight.
It means being good to yourself. Be good to your body. Nourish it, fuel it, treat it right. It means loving your body, no matter what it looks like. It means trying new foods. Eating your fruits and vegetables. Getting exercise. (Taking Campbell for a walk counts.) It means feeling comfortable in your skin. As a girl and woman there is a lot of negativity around body talk. You will be subjected to that. You can't ignore it. It's in school, on TV, in the newspapers. There is talk about dieting and looking a certain way. You will feel challenged, you will feel confused. But your body is your own, and it's not meant to look like anyone else's.
It means being honest with Mom and Dad. Tell us when something is wrong. Ask us questions. Ask for explanations. Always, always ask. Like your teachers will tell you: there is no such thing as a stupid question.
The very best way to be a strong girl and a strong woman is to be YOU. Trust your heart, trust your instincts, trust your drive, trust your story. Mom and Dad will be here every step of the way. We will guide you and then let you fly. We will love you, no matter what. That is called unconditional love. We will always love you and always be proud of you. Nothing you can ever do or say will change that.
I give you permission to cut Barbie's hair. Mommy did that as a way of experimenting with different hair styles. (It was not done out of malice; simply out of curiosity)
I give you permission to stay up past your bedtime, only in the case of classical movies playing on TV on the weekend. And only if Mom and Dad say it's OK.
I give you permission to not eat all of your brussels sprouts, as long as you try one. (But then next time you have to try two.)
I give you permission to put one sugary cereal in the shopping cart per trip.
I give you permission to cry on your birthday. All of them if you need to.
I give you permission to stay in the bathtub until you turn into a prune.
I give you permission to dress yourself and pick out your own outfits the moment you want to.
I give you permission to color outside the lines. I give you permission to make the sun blue and the grass purple and the cow orange.
And a few more things:
1. No makeup until discussed. (And I'll know if you sneak it at school)
2. Always brush your teeth before bed
3. No reading in the dark
4. Don't put your Flintstones vitamins behind the washing machine instead of eating them. Mommy did this, so she knows where to look.
5. Never hit or pull hair. Treat others the way you'd want to be treated
6. Don't name-call. If something or someone upsets you, use your words
7. Raise your hand before speaking up in class
8. Always say "please" and "thank you," including when ordering at a restaurant
9. Don't draw on the wall and then stand in front of it to hide it. Mommy also did this so she knows where to look.
10. Love all animals and respect them. For strange dogs you don't know, always ask the owner if it is OK to pet them. Animals have feelings. Treat them nicely. We will go to the petting zoo so you can see all the animals and what they look like and feel like.
11. Mommy will give you her pink dollhouse so you can rearrange the rooms and furniture however you like.
12. Nature is a blessing. Love and respect your surroundings: trees, plants, flowers, bugs. Smell the flowers. Pick up (not all) the bugs. Shade yourself under a tree. Help Mom plant a garden, help Dad water the flowers. Plant your own garden. Grandma Ruth let me do this: I got to pick out all the flowers I wanted.
13. Always wear a helmet when you ride your bike or roller skate
14. Ask Mom and Dad what they were like when they were kids. I guarantee you'll get a few good laughs and learn something new each time.
15. Pizza is not a vegetable, and Starbursts are not fruit.
16. Sing. All the time. Even if the song makes no sense.
17. Dad will teach you all the words to Les Miserables.
There is no possible way to describe my love for you. You are our biggest blessing. We will help you thrive and learn and grow. We'll help you become a strong girl and a strong woman. We'll be there when you spill your Cheerios on the floor and when you're learning how to ride a bike. We'll be there when you star in the school play or want us to check under the bed for monsters. We'll be there for homecomings and proms, first dates and slumber parties.
For bath time and bedtime. For walks in the park, for camping under the stars. My little Adele: you are already a little lady, which is why everyone calls you Miss Adele. You have already shown your personality beautifully. You are happy and bubbly. You are determined (with your bottle and your hanging toys). You are a great speaker already, babbling away morning, noon and night.
I could probably type and type and type forever about you and how much I love you. But there will be more time for that. Mommy will have plenty of opportunities.
For now, though, just know: you brighten my heart, you open my world, you teach me every day. I am so excited to grow with you, learn with you, thrive with you. Just as I have so much to teach you, you have so much to teach me. You already have.