I saw you before you turned from sweet little girl to independent pre-teen. I watched you giggle at yourself in the mirror. I swooned when you sang your made-up songs and role played with your Barbies. I smiled because you didn’t care what people thought about what you did or loved – nor should you have.
Fast forward 10 years. Things have inevitably changed. You’re now embarrassed to show your true colors. You’ve stopped belting out songs to fit in with the in-crowd. Your silliness has faded.
I sit back and watch your pure innocence turn into conformity.
Just know, my daughter, that I saw you before.
I saw you before you started wearing make-up, with your beauty so radiant, pure and natural. I saw you before you conformed to trends; you’d wear Mickey Mouse pants with a too-small athletic tank and cowboy boots. You’d smile with confidence and were so sure you knew what your small little world was all about. Now, you’re trying to navigate a foreign world– a world of bullying, sexism, judgement, and classism. You have to worry about gender stereotyping, what’s cool and what’s not, how embarrassing rules are, and how Crocs are all the rage.
I miss you being a sassy 4-year-old. I know I complained about how hard it was back then, but I yearn for the innocence. Gone are the no-filter chats, the random hugs, the flashy dance moves, and over-communication about your bowel movements.
Please don’t forget: I saw you before.
Do you remember when you and I used to have picnics in our swimsuits, and we’d play mermaids? You would be caught dead doing that with me today. You’d rather be glued to your iPhone listening to today’s greatest hits or chatting away with your bestie about how embarrassing I am.
I saw you before and I see you now.
Though your outward appearance and mannerisms have changed, your heart is as pure as your toddler soul. Don’t ever lose that innocence, dear daughter. Relish in your uniqueness, resist the urge to give in, and most importantly remember who you truly are. Take a good hard look in the mirror, because those are the same two blue eyes that stared back just 6 years ago.
That is what I see every time I look at you. I’ll never stop seeing that face, hearing that contagious giggle, and smiling about your quirkiness. I’ll continue seeing you through the makeup, puberty, conformity, and resistance.
Just remember, my not-so-little baby girl, I saw you before and will continue seeing that you for the rest of my life.
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