I often see open letters addressed to famous, often highly-criticized public figures. The very nature of an open letter is that the writer is publishing a “note” to someone, but wants everyone to read it.
I wondered if I could turn things around and pen a “love letter” — that's full of joy — to someone I know and love dearly.
I decided to write an open letter to my oldest daughter, Penelope. She is four-years-old and in a few short days will be headed to full-day kindergarten. That’s a huge deal in our home, where she has typically been by my side for the past four years.
Here it is, a letter that proclaims my love for her, and one that I hope she does read one day.
Dear Penelope (on your first day of kindergarten):
Have I ever told you what a joyful surprise you have always been to us?
Five years ago, your Mom and Dad were very young newlyweds. We were in bliss, completely self-absorbed, in a world we had built for ourselves. All of that changed when we found out — our first surprise — that you were about to arrive!
For nine months, we poured our energy and hearts into preparing for you. I rubbed my belly. I sang to you and I read to you. You responded by kicking and flipping, and we loved every second of it.
Our second surprise was finding out that we were having a girl! For some reason everyone thought that you would be a boy, but you surprised us, and we were so delighted.
Our third surprise was when you decided to arrive really, really late. I was tired, cranky, and more eager than ever. But each night I went to bed, wondering if tonight would be the night. Nope! You arrived nine days past your due date, and we were so surprised you waited so long!
You surprised us once again when you had a lot of trouble during your birth. It was a scary moment for all of us. The chord was wrapped around your neck twice, and there was a knot in too. You were stuck a little, and it took a very special doctor and two midwives to bring you safely into the world.
I am thankful to those three powerful women every day, so much so, that our second child was named Georgia, inspired by one of our midwives who brought you to us safely.
I didn’t realize until the moment when I thought I might lose you, how much I dearly loved you. When you were finally passed to me (I was the last person in the room to see you), my heart swelled up with pride.
I was so surprised — by how natural motherhood was — and by my complete and perfect love for you.
You continued to surprise us in many ways. You were one of the chubbiest babies I have ever seen. You continued to grow and grow, surprising our doctor and our family.
You delighted us with each smile and coo.
You surprised us again when you started talking very, very early. And you haven’t stopped since! We love hearing your sweet voice. We love our inquisitive and creative little girl.
You’ve continued to surprise me each day. With your caring and forgiving heart, and your gentle nature towards your little sister. You surprised us when you didn’t display an ounce of jealously towards Georgia, and accepted her into our family with wide, open arms.
You have made us proud, joy-filled, and excited. We can’t wait to continue to watch you grow.
Now it’s time for me to open my arms and give you a bit of freedom in this world. I’ll tell you a secret though: I am surprised by how hard this has been.
You are ready to fly and soar with all your new friends. But I am scared to let you go.
I will miss our conversations at lunch and our snuggles during quiet time. I’ll miss holding your hand while we walk to Exhibition Park each day. I’ll wonder what you’re doing at 10 a.m., and 11 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. All day I’ll miss you and wish I could be a fly on the wall, watching out for my little surprise.
I know you’re going to love kindergarten. You’ll make so many friends, and you’ll show them what it means to be kind, forgiving, adventurous, and imaginative. You’ll have playmates to pretend with, and create stories and make crafts with (your two favourite things).
You’ve been the best surprise we could have ever asked for and I know you will continue to keep us on our toes.
Don’t forget, my arms are open wide, releasing you into kindergarten each morning, and waiting for you to return to them at the end of the day.
All my love and gratitude,