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A Letter to my Daughter

Daughter
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My lovely India,

You turned two this weekend and I’m still reeling from the shock of it. When your dad and I decided to have a baby, I never imagined myself with anything other than, well, a helpless little bundle. But time is an asshole and, like every parent before me has realised, little babies only stay little babies for half a second. And it feels like less.

Before you were born, I was a bit of a good time gal. I loved socialising with my friends, travelling, going to festivals and occasionally waking up on a boat (well, that only happened once…). Since you came on the scene, my life has done a complete 180. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still dance on a table if the time (and song) is right, but I’m mostly content to stay home where I know you can find me if you need me. Unless Republic of Loose are playing somewhere. In which case, you’re on your own.

Becoming your mum has opened my eyes to so much. I was prepared to fall in love with you, but nobody told me I would love you more each day. Two years in, and my heart is bursting. I physically crave you – those cheeks!  – when we’re apart for nine hours a day, five days a week. So I covertly look at pictures of you on my phone and count the hours til I can pick you up, twirl you around and tell you how much I’ve missed you. Because I do miss you, all the time, even when you’re just asleep upstairs.

Having a daughter, in particular, has made me acutely aware of the negative gender stereotypes that have permeated every part of our society. I want you to grow up self-assured, confident and, as Mindy Kaling puts it, “with the entitlement of a tall white man.” I want you to be equal, not discriminated against because you’re a girl. I don’t call you “princess,” I read you books with strong female protagonists, and I celebrate the amazing women in your life, but that also means working on myself. So I hide the weighing scales because I want you to grow up loving your body, which, I assure you, is perfect and always will be.

India, being your mum has made me want to make Ireland a better place. I want you to be surrounded by thoughtful, tolerant, compassionate and open-minded people from all walks of life – and I want you to blend right in with them. You know only love, and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. Protecting you from the horror that exists in this world is my priority.

Watching you grow up physically hurts. Every time you learn a new skill, and become more independent, I feel you pulling away – just a little bit. My job is to prepare you for adulthood, but part of me wants to retie the umbilical chord and keep you all to myself. It’s silly, I know, because the older you get, the more proud of you I become. You, even more than Beyoncé, make me want to be a better person. So thanks for that. And please sleep through the night tonight. I’m wrecked.

Mama

By Sarah Breen

ICYMI: Sarah’s piece on whether Facebook can make you a better Mum

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