Dear Maria:

Oh (wo)man are you coming of age in an interesting time. Never have we as women been able to accomplish more. You and me together watched a woman run for president (and win) and I saw on your face for the first time that those words I tell you, all those you can be anything you wants, might actually be true.

And something big is definitely happening. Things are available to you that were not before. Glass ceilings are being shattered. Long held prejudices that for years went unquestioned are being questioned, finally. Men who committed crimes against women are being called on it. A paradigm is starting to shift, albeit slowly.

Women are standing on the stage.

And yet we are still fighting the same old battles. We may be on the stage, but we are not necessarily accepted there, not all the way, not yet. Everyday I watch women get criticized for things that have nothing to do with their ability. We have it done to us, and worse, we do it to each other. We may be able to do anything, but we are still seemingly expected to do it while having perfect hair and a small waist and a demure, quiet, nonthreatening voice.

I know that must be confusing for you. It’s confusing for me too. So in a world where we are still offered a thousand false measures to stack our value against: our weight, the length of our hair, the size of our pores or our breasts or our pants; our likes and our follows and our number of views, our friends or our lovers or our degrees or our bank accounts, how big our car is our how clean our house is or how fancy the title on our business card is, where we came from or where we are going or who we know; I wanted to make sure that you knew what I am only just now beginning to understand:

All the things in the world won’t matter if you can’t be alone with who you are because in the end that’s all there this, just that and nothing more.

Because here’s the thing: the only true home you have is within yourself. And the foundation of that home may have been poured by Daddy and me, but the house was built by you. You have furnished it with your choices, you have hung your hopes and dreams on its walls and lit it up golden from within with the light of your spirit. We may visit–and I hope we do– but the only people who reside there always are you, sweet baby girl, and your God.

It is from that safe space that you will rise. It is from there that you will conquer. It is from there that you will change the world.

So what I ask of you is this. When doubt or fear or any of those false measures start to creep in, I need you to remember this: I’m proud of you for what you have done already and I’m proud of you for the things you have still yet to do, but here is the thing about being your mother: I’d love you just the same even if you never accomplished another thing. I love you no matter what.

No.

Matter.

What.

Remembering the Tulle | lizpetrone.com

And that’s the kind of love I hope you can use. I hope you can take it back to the home in your heart and use it to reinforce the studs and seal up the leaks in the windows and patch the roof if it ever starts to let in any of that junk that doesn’t belong. I hope it gives you a spark that can light the fire in your hearth and keep you warm long after you’ve drifted out of my embrace.

But mostly I hope it’s the kind of love you can learn to have for yourself, the unwavering, unflinching, untouchable kind that doesn’t give a flying hoot about what your hair looks like or how many followers you have or how many little lines you have around your eyes when your face crinkles up in that smile you have that lights the sky right up.

It’s the kind of love I wished I had had myself, and it’s the only true thing I have to give to you. I am so hopelessly imperfect a mother, so novice and so new, but I can do this for you. Stand on my shoulders, baby girl, and climb right onto that stage. You belong there.

Love you forever,
Mom.

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