As we quickly approach another birthday of yours, I want to explain that there is no reason to be alarmed if you find me sitting on the couch, shedding a few tears on the cover of your baby book. You see, sweet, strong-willed first born of mine, since becoming a mother I tend to cry more tears for all sorts of reasons. But what I am about to share with you is advice that was either bestowed to me by my closest loved ones, or a creation of my own thoughts and hopes for you, based on past wishes and experiences that only a mother can provide. While each of these express emotions through tears, you’ll also find a life lesson. When I dry your cheeks and rub your shoulders, I count on your understanding that I will always be here for you, tissues and all.
When Friday at 3:00 P.M. has left you exhausted and unable to fathom partaking in any activity, I hope you ugly cry. May the comforts of home and your favorite movie refresh and center your soul for the next week.
When you don’t quite achieve the winning status you envisioned at the competition that you planned and prepared for, I hope you ugly cry. When it does come time for you to shine in the winner’s circle, I hope you remember your past frustration and savor each strip of that shiny blue ribbon.
When your closest friend decides to make plans with other friends and forgets to fill you in, I hope you ugly cry. May that feeling in the pit of your stomach act as a driving force to include others.
For the times when you cannot understand why I stand firm on my answers that do not align with your current wants, I hope you ugly cry. The madness of my mothering will serve as a constant in your upbringing and one that you will (hopefully) secretly crave well into your teen years.
When you find a new student in school often sitting by him/herself, I hope you ugly cry. May the hurt you feel in your heart for a peer push you to make the first move and take a seat at the table.
When you receive a disappointing grade on a test for which you studied your heart out, I hope you ugly cry. No matter the hours or effort put forth in a subject, there will be a time when you fail. Use that failing grade to light a fire within and ask for help from a teacher or friend on ways to come back stronger.
When the time comes to say goodbye to a beloved pet, I hope you ugly cry. May the time well spent with one of God’s creatures remind you to be grateful for the seasons together here on earth while stressing the fragility of life around us.
When you witness your brother hurt in any way, due to physical or emotional pain, I hope you ugly cry. Your dad and I could give you no greater gift than than the bond you share with your sibling. With the love you have for one another comes the anguish over each other’s pain. Channel that to strengthen said bond, for you have each other for a lifetime.
When you feel as if you aren’t being heard or the chaos is too loud, I hope you ugly cry. May that deliver a message to us, your family, to quiet the noise around you to better hear and understand what you are or are not trying to say.
For the TV show that you secretly like to watch but are afraid to admit to enjoying for fear that you’ll be labeled a “baby,” I hope you ugly cry. Don’t listen to the world, sweet girl; it wants you to grow up too fast. If I watch shows from my childhood for comfort, so can you.
When you feel stuck between what is popular and what is right, I hope you ugly cry. That means your conscience is working overtime against the environmental pulls around you. May you stick to the values we instill in you and never shy away from doing the right thing. The fulfillment of doing what’s right lasts longer than the minute of popularity.
In all honesty, this list is never ending and ever changing. It was easy to compose because I have ugly cried for these things and more. My hope, though, dear first-born daughter of mine, is that my words echo clarity to you on the days when nothing makes sense. On the days that you declare the world and all that it entails your enemy, I stand as your ally. For the times you bottle up too many emotions to name and know that they are one comment away from bubbling out, let me help you find their names and place them into boxes. And when all else fails and you simply just want to cry it out, accept my ears as a sounding board, my heart as a vault, and my shoulders as a resting place for your head. For there is no place I’d rather be than here for you.
Love you a bushel and a peck,