Yes daughter, I’ve got a few things to say.

by Janelle Hanchett

Dear Ava,

You’ve been asking me for two years to write a blog post “that’s appropriate for your kid to read.”

And I haven’t been lying when I answer “Sorry, but I haven’t written it yet.”

It isn’t that I don’t want you to read what I’m thinking, read what I laugh about, read the insights – profound and absurd – I share with this world. It’s that what I’m saying on the blog isn’t quite what I want to say to you, my little girl, 11 years old, standing on the brink of a new time and a new body and life.

Sometimes I can’t believe you’re going to be 12 in November, our first baby, and I think about the way you’re growing up, and how things are changing for you and for me and the way we talk and laugh. How sometimes it’s like it’s always been and sometimes it’s very, very different.

Soon I know it will change a little more and I won’t be the one who’s by your side as much as I am now, and you will be bursting forth into your own, in ways that don’t involve me. Maybe then you won’t be quite so interested in what I have to say to you, in a blog post written for you, my first daughter.

So I’ve written it now, the things I want to say as you head into 6th grade then junior high then high school and oh my. Here are the things I want to say, now, and in five years, and in ten, and twenty.

  • I want you to keep dressing up, and playing what you want, long after you’re sure all the other girls have moved on to more “mature” things.
  • I want you to know they haven’t.
  • I want you to hold on to your wry sense of humor and quick wit. Not everybody will get you, but the people who get you will really, really get you. And it will be worth it.
  • I want you to look at the people around you with a seriously questioning eye, figuring if everybody else is doing it, it’s probably a ridiculous thing to be doing.
  • I want you to believe you are more smart than beautiful, even if perhaps you are equally so.
  • I want you to know people will always fail to meet your expectations, at some point. It’s up to you to decide whether you should keep them around anyway.
  • I want you to embrace your inner geek. It’s generally our most interesting feature.
  • I want you to stay close to your Greek and Norse myths and books and books and books because they say it before we can and they change our minds.
  • I want you to never leave the house without saying “I love you,” no matter how bad the argument.
  • I want you to remember your parents are flawed humans. Emphasis on the “flawed.”
  • I want you to remember you can never walk so far away you can’t come back.
  • I want you to learn to drive a stick shift.
  • On a regular basis, I want you to let go of every old idea you’ve ever had.
  • I want you to know you will always be required to attend family vacations.
  • I want you to see that girls do some seriously stupid things when it comes to boys, and there’s nothing wrong with shaking your head in disbelief and movin’ right along.
  • This also applies to you, when you do seriously stupid things.
  • I want you to speak your mind even when the other kids are speaking what’s cool.
  • I want you to be the kid who talks too much in class, because I know you want to.
  •  I want you to understand that brains are half as important as tenacity and a profound work ethic.
  • I want you to cuddle with me sometimes, and hold your dad’s hand, and know how the younger kids look at you.
  • I want you to visit your grandparents.
  • I want you to never question our adoration of the girl you’ve been and the woman in you, who we can’t yet see but love completely anyway, with every flaw and mistake and disaster and temper tantrum she’s got in her.
  • I want you to know we’ve done it, though you’ll never believe it.
  • I want you to pray.
  • I want you to know you are more than your body and mind, that you are crafted of the stuff of the cosmos, and when you came from my womb I knew you were on loan from the universe – a celestial body encapsulated in your body – and I want to know that I always knew I’d have to let you go someday, even as my heart broke and my arms begged you to stay and I couldn’t imagine the parting.

That I know someday you’re going to go, and I’ll have to watch, from here. With only a few things left to say, and a wave.

Nevermind, I can’t do it. You can’t read this yet.

You’ve gotta wait a couple more years.

I want you to know we’ve got a few more years.

And many more things to say.




32 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | February 28, 2013
  • Meagan

    Ok so I have a 12 yr old, and really want to read this, but read first bullet point and am in tears already, and can’t read this now…’s going to be a good cry, I can tell, but have to be alone, can’t wait….

    • renegademama

      I bawled the entire time I wrote it. I had to say these things to her. I’ve been having the hardest time feeling like I’m losing her. It’s just happening so fast! I WANT THE YEARS BACK damnit!

      Damn this is hard.

  • Jen L

    I have 6 years to go before this and I’m already in tears. Beautiful post.

  • Cerissa

    I have a two year old. Thank the Lord she’s still mostly illiterate. Now, I shall finish crying and finish off that half-gallon of ice cream before supper.

    • renegademama

      Haha! I feel ya. I look at my 2-year-old and think “well, at least I’ve still got you all young and needy!”

  • Momtothree

    Loved this, for its’ universal mother/daughter truths.
    Happy Birthday Ava.

    • renegademama

      Thanks. You’re right. It’s exactly how I feel about my mom, too, like these are the things my parents wanted for me…particularly my dad with the “stick shift” thing…

  • Meagan Philpott

    The one that got me is “you can never walk so far away that you can’t come back”
    That’s exactly how my parents made me feel when I left for Basic training. They encouraged me, but I know they would have supported me if I had’ve decided it wasn’t for me, I always felt as though I could come home. Thankfully, 12 years later, I’m still serving. I know it’s not the literal context you mean, but it spoke to me (and made me cry). 🙂

    As always, an enjoyable read. <3

  • Tela

    this is so powerful and beautifully written.

  • Stefanie

    I’ve got 10 years to go and this got to me. So well written!

  • Shannah

    As always, I laughed, I cried… You, mama, are so relatable and SPEAK to my soul. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with us!

  • Taylor

    I kept all three letters my mom wrote me in junior high/high school. I even kept a letter she wrote my high school teachers to give them a little “insight” when they were writing recommendations for colleges. This reminded me so much of those days living at home, of the unconditional love found there. Ava will always treasure this, even when it seems like she isn’t listening to you. Thanks for this, you are an amazing writer.

  • Jackie

    RenegadeMama I love you! This is beautiful and smart and real.

  • Dixiebelles

    Oh brilliant

  • Heidi

    Dammit. My boy turned four today and I feel like I failed making his birthday magical and memorable and showing him how I feel. I did write him something similar several months ago, after watching him sleep and having my chest aching with feelings that CANNOT be described. Because we are one. We shared a goddang body. It does not get anymore intimate than that. And he drives me freaking crazy, but the deepness of that love cannot be measured or understood or even touched.

    • Tracy r

      Ah yes..I feel this way with my 4yr old boy. Verbatim.

  • lisaeggs

    This is a great post. I love how you write and what you write about and I love everything I’ve read so far on your site. You apparently really rock.

    Where have you been all this time??? I guess you’ve been here. Where have I been? Well, at least I finally found my way over here. I’m sticking around.

  • Shan

    So, um, chances are possibly quite high that I will totally snag this (idea… my girls names are not Ava, so edits will clearly be in order). But not yet, because they are two and four and I am still learning who they are and what I will say. But I love that you have said it. What do you think is the chance you’ll let her see soon?

  • Stanislava Legdeur

    This is so beautiful! So real! Thank you for sharing it! :*

  • Brie

    This blew me away. My daughter is eleven, she is sprouting boobs and getting all harmonal. Its so scary, this is a great sentiment. I sing silly songs to my Amber in the morning. She loves it. I will miss that very much one day.

  • Nicole

    Will keep this is reserve for down the track…

  • Knitting with Olof

    Well done! You are a good mamma, no matter what you say. Make sure she can find this one day. I have diaries I write for my boys. I write them a love letter in them each year on their birthday and I leave it out on their birthdays for others to write something in them if they like.

  • Gretchen

    Profoundly, strikingly beautiful! Thank you!

  • Katherine

    Sometimes I really wish my “gift” was words instead of numbers. So many times I’ve looked into my daughters eyes, they’re 2 and 6, and felt so many of these things…I hope like hell I’ll be able to make them feel more love and acceptance than any group of mean girls can ever take away. I’m so very glad I’ve found your blog!

  • Kelly

    My oldest is twenty, and my youngest is six. I have said many of these things to my oldest. She is the most beautiful, unique individual ever.

    Ava is a lucky girl to have a Momma as smart as you.

  • Kristi'smomma

    My baby girl turned 30-something this year, and I remember those pre-teen years so well. Mother Nature is a bitch sometimes. Just as you are getting into the pre-mentalpause age, your daughter begins this journey into womanhood. It is still a wonder and then she is through her teens and on to the roaring twenties! What continent is she on now????? When will she come home???? She does, then she gives you the greatest gift….grandbabies. What a life! What a joy!!

  • Meghen

    My daughter is just 14 months old, so man do I appreciate the reminder to stop and smell the roses while she’s little. That’s hard some days.

    Additionally, I’m new around here and just saw your comment policy. Literally laughed out loud.

    • renegademama

      You’d think with a comment policy that direct, people would follow it, but as you’ll see, some people still, um, struggle with it. 🙂 Welcome! We’re so glad to have you.

  • Diana Bisares

    I’m so hooked with your writing. I first read your post at BlogHer, the beautiful catastrophe, and then this. And I was like, “What is this writer doing to me?!” I’m AGAIN in tears. I love, love, love your writing so much!

    I’m a young mother (gave birth to my first child at 22, ugh!). He’s just 11 months old, but when I’m staring at him, I feel this pang of fear that one day, I’ll have to see him happy with another woman. Ah, I still have more years to treasure being the star in his life. I’ll definitely make every moment count. You inspire me a lot!

    Lots o’ love,