My sweet, darling daughter,

Writing this letter to you makes my heart hurt. Right now, you are the embodiment of pure and simple joy. Everything makes you giggle. You flit around on your tippy toes half convinced that you actually are a fairy. Life is beautiful and carefree, and you, my lovely girl, are basking in the sunshine of it all.
But you’re growing up. I looked in the rear view mirror today and saw your sweet face, lost in thought and staring out the window, and it hit me—she’s not just my daughter, she’s a woman in the making. Suddenly, perhaps more strongly than I ever have, I saw myself in you. That makes me proud and honored, but also scared. Because it means that one day your world will revolve around more than me and “astronaut princesses.” One day your world will be expansive and complicated and hard, filled with things and people that I can’t protect you from. So I want you to take this letter and tuck it away for a bad day. Because one day, someone is going to break your heart. And it’s going to be awful. I know it’s hard to imagine this, but your boring parents were young and (moderately) cool once. I rocked leather pants. I stayed out super late. Once Dad even got into a bar-fight over me (in hindsight that probably had to do with the whole leather-pants-out-super-late situation).
Before you were ever a reality, I fell in love with a guy, who turned out to be your dad. But before all that, before I met the man who wouldn’t break my heart, I was there—where you are. And it was awful. I won’t go into the details because, now, finally, they aren’t important anymore. Just know that I remember. Your heart is aching. Your limbs feel weak. That glowing smile that you wake up with every morning now, is lost. You feel alone. And when you do, please, please call me. I won’t judge you. Ever. I won’t say, “You’re better off with out them,” because I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. I won’t say, “I told you so.” Because goodness knows I’ve ignored my share of advice. I want nothing more than for you to be happy, but I am not scared of your sorrow. If you want me to hold you and rock you like I do now when you’re sad, I will. If you want me to sleep next to you like I do now when you’re sick, I will. I will come to you in your sorrow, and just be. I’m your mom. That’s what I am on this earth to do. When you were three-years-old, you stood on our front steps and asked me to make the rain stop. I couldn’t do it then, and I can’t do it now. But I can promise you that it will stop. You will find the right person. But before you do, you will find yourself. Because something happens when you’re thrust into the depths of sorrow. You learn who you really are. And you, my darling girl, are fire. When it happened to me, I hobbled around with broken wings for a bit, and then I met your dad. But you need to know that your dad didn’t save me. I saved me. And even though I will be there for you, you are the one who is going to save yourself, not me. When you’re ready, you’ll find whatever duct tape and glue and twisty ties you have in your tiny fifth-floor walk-up apartment, and you’ll start repairing your wings. They won’t work right at first. They’ll be a little mangled. You won’t quite recognize them. But they’ll be yours. And YOUR wings are fierce. Yes, you’re growing by leaps and bounds, but there are parts of you that will always be the same. The passion that you throw into every twirl. The power that you put into every song you belt out. The heart that you put into saving every half-dead worm on our driveway. The life that sparkles behind your eyes and lights up everything you touch. It’s all still there. And when you’re forced to rebuild your wings with all that—with every amazing thing that makes you YOU—well, I’m not sure the world has ever seen anything so beautiful. So you see, as much as I long to keep you small and safe and here, I can’t wait to watch you fly. Your heart will break, your wings will need fixing but I’ll be there for all of it. But know that you already have everything you need to soar.