letter to my daughter | march


to my daughter,

you had a lot of big questions this month. and honestly, little one, sometimes i fumble through the answers.

you are very familiar with the boston marathon. since you were a baby, you have been a spectator on the sidelines. a few years ago, you watched me train through an icy, cold winter. you cheered as i crossed the finish line, wearing a shirt supporting me. last year, we talked incessantly about the horror of the boston marathon bombings. and this year, as we plan our day to watch our friends run, you express your fears. what happens if there is another bomb? do you think we will get hurt? why do people want to bomb other people? one of our conversations about the marathon led us to a discussion about other horrific events, like 9/11. you asked similar questions. how did the bad people do it? why would they want to hurt so many people? what happens if they do that on a plane that i’m on? i attempt to answer your questions, mostly shaping my responses through the view that we cannot live our lives in fear or hatred. love needs to be our base.

we had your parent teacher conference this month. your teacher goes through your skill levels in math, reading, and writing. you are on target with your benchmarks. not ahead, not behind. then, she said, your daughter is emotionally mature for her age. “let me put it to you this way,” she said. “most kids talk about sledding. your daughter talks about the importance of gay marriage.” this, i know, is because we talk about relationships and love and accepted cultural norms. you ask questions, and again, i respond with answers about love, rather than fear or hate.

over the past few days, i have been contemplating the subject of my letter to you this month. and today, during a conversation with a dear friend, i realized what i needed to focus on. my friend and i were talking about work, and she tells me that she believes that businesses often focus on the big, macro decisions. and yet, businesses should be making better micro decisions for a healthy, supportive work environment. she gives the analogy of being a parent. “say,” she said, “you decide you want to be a good parent because you had a crappy parent growing up. that’s the bigger decision that guides you. but then, in the day-to-day, you make these small decisions based on your overall goal. these are what make the difference. these are the actions that transform us in the long run.” i sat back, thinking about my days with you, our conversations, how i try to respond, and how they impact you. the micro decisions. yes. she is right. it’s these little snippets in our daily lives that shape us.

so, here i am, reflecting back on some of our conversations from this past month. did i respond to you appropriately? in a way that demonstrates the values that i want to teach you? in a way that challenges you to critically think about our culture? in a way that gives you the opportunity to ask more? in a way that you feel empowered to initiate more dialogue about tough situations? in a way that you feel confident to shape your own views and express them? do my day-to-day micro decisions, and ways in which i facilitate our conversations, supply you with the nourishment you need to grow?

of course, i’d like to think that the answers to all of these are yes. and yet the reality is that i don’t know the answers. i don’t know why 9/11 or the boston marathon bombings occurred. i don’t know how people live a life created out of hatred of others. i do know that we are all entitled to our opinions, but not at the expense of hurt and oppression. i do know that no life is free of pain. wrestling with hard questions and situations can be the best opportunities for our growth. i do know that our compassion isn’t a solution, but rather a character trait to help guide us in our daily decisions. i do know that i want to teach you that suffering – especially at the hands of others – shouldn’t dictate the way in which we live our lives. instead, horrific events like the boston marathon demonstrate the largeness of the human spirit. a triumph of fierce, brave, love over hatred. i do know that we should share the responsibility of creating a world full of courageous souls.

thank you, little love, for asking tough questions.  and having the hard conversations.  and still being full of light and love.

lovelovelove lovelovelove“all the world is full of suffering. it is also full of overcoming.” ~ helen keller

2 Comments on “letter to my daughter | march

  1. I am new to reading your blog, Colleen. I may have been a few times but now I subscribe. There is your girl in her Bogs, jumping, experiencing. What rings out for me here so clearly is that I hear you being the next generation of the man who was your father. I hear the fearlessness. And I hear it’s fuel, the goodness. It’s a beauty to see and read this. Thank you so much. It really touched me. I’m so glad she is your daughter and you are her mother. Warm, kind thoughts to you today as all of us “grown ups” wrestle with the hard questions. Here’s to puddle jumping for joy.

    • Oh, Pam. I am so so happy you have found me here. Your words – I’ve read them over and over – are so heartwarming. Perhaps the biggest compliment anyone could ever give me is that I’m like my father. I tear up, with happiness, at the thought. SO MUCH gratitude to you for seeing me in this way.

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