A letter to my daughter on her second birthday

Dear Lena,

Tomorrow you will turn two years old. It’s more than a little cliché to remark on how quickly the time flies.

But, it does.

I’m not the first mother to gaze into her growing child’s eyes and wonder, “Who is this tiny person and when did she learn to do that?”

But, I do.

Loving you, watching you learn and grow, even helping you through big, tough emotions has brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. I see you. I really see you, and I am in awe.

When you’re older you won’t remember this time in your life so let me (very inadequately and inarticulately) tell you my impressions of you at almost two years old.


You are empathetic and kind. Often you ask me, softly and inquisitively, “Mommy, can I hold my baby doll? Can I kiss her?” When you hear another child cry at the playground, you look around and then say to me, “He sad and miss his mommy.” Last week when you saw one of the characters on Daniel Tiger was upset you said, “She scared. I scared sometimes, too.”

You are curious. “What is that noise?” What’s her name?” “What is this song?” “What is thaaat?” All day long Daddy and I field your questions as you encounter the world. I love to ask you back, “What do you think about it?” These little conversations are without a doubt, the best part of my day. Laughing with you and hearing about how you see things is beautiful. (Ask me one day about our conversation about vulvas!…)

You have strong opinions. Since day one, you’ve known what you wanted. You cried and wailed as a baby until we learned to tune into what you were saying. As you grow, we communicate more easily and get a glimpse into what you’re thinking and feeling. Sometimes it’s overwhelming for us, as I’m sure it is for you, but it’s also astounding to see just how much you’re observing and processing about your world.

You are joyful. Going for a walk, snuggling with mommy, or finding a new rock regularly elicits the exclamation, “This is ah-mazin’!!” I think you already understand it’s often the small parts of the day that bring the most happiness, something I’m not sure most adults realize. I hope you never, ever lose that spark.

I don’t expect you to understand the way that your parents see you until or unless you have children yourself. I know I didn’t. We love you unconditionally, you know that. But I want to tell you that the most important thing is how you see yourself. And baby girl, you are perfect.

I don’t mean that you do everything perfectly, or that perfection is even desirable or obtainable. What I mean is that you are a whole, complete, stunning, complex person, just as you are.

There is no missing piece out there waiting to fulfill you. You are not the career you choose or the mistakes you make. You are not a partially formed person waiting to grow up to become full. Your life will be shaped by your experiences but you are more than them. You already ARE you and always will be.

Happy, happy birthday, Lena. I can’t wait to start on our next adventure. I know it will be ah-mazin’.