If I Die Before She’s Grown :: A Letter to My Husband

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality. I think about all of the things I wouldn’t be able to tell my daughter and the experiences I would miss. I could write them all down, and I probably will. But most of them she may be too young to understand. I’ll need her dad to show her and teach her those things as she grows up. It’s safe to say that between the two of us, I’m more intentional about how I parent (read: I overthink everything). He’s much more likely to go with the flow. So this list is for him. 

  • Remember that she’s A LOT like her mother: stubborn, bossy, and full of attitude. Practice patience whenever you can. Pause when you have the urge to yell. Take a breath and lead with grace. You’ll get a much better result that way.
  • Take her on lots of vacations. Let her pick where you go. 
  • Make her eat plenty of vegetables. She’ll come up with at least a million reasons why she shouldn’t have to. Many of them will be convincing. But don’t fall for it.
  • Teach her about other brilliant women (and not just by traditional standards of brilliance). Women who overcame obstacles to accomplish their dreams. Women in science, politics and law, dance, and teaching. Make sure she knows that she’s powerful enough to accomplish things even when it’s an uphill battle.
  • If she doesn’t want to go to college, don’t make her. Let her travel the world or do something irresponsible. She’ll eventually figure out if college is right for her, and she’ll learn valuable lessons along the way. 
  • Make sure she knows that failing is the best way to learn. Let her take chances even if you’re fairly certain it won’t end the way she hopes. 
  • If her heart gets broken, you can’t go wrong with Ben & Jerry’s. 
  • She should know that it’s okay to cry. It’s never anything she should be ashamed of and it doesn’t make her weak.
  • You’ll need to learn how to make a pony tail and a braid. That will come in handy.
  • I’ve never shaved my face, but I would imagine that shaving legs is pretty similar. Tell her to watch out for her knees and ankles. And tell her that if she doesn’t want to shave her legs, that’s perfectly okay, too.
  • Teach her how to write a budget. On second thought, you can delegate that one to my brother. 
  • You can delegate menstrual periods, too. Call my closest girlfriend. She will feel much more comfortable that way. I’d imagine you would, too.
  • A few things you can YouTube together: “How to chop onions,” “How to scramble eggs,” and “How to hem pants.”
  • Let her wear what makes her feel comfortable, even if you don’t (within reason, of course). 
  • Give her all 7 of my Harry Potter books, and make sure she reads them. But wait until she’s old enough. I had nightmares about Voldemort up into college. I don’t know how old is old enough. You can Google that.
  • Make sure she learns Civics. Teach her the importance of voting, especially in local elections. Help her to be as engaged as possible wherever she lives.
  • Suggest that she live alone for at least a year. She’ll learn that she can confidently and capably care for herself. 
  • Teach her that standing up for what’s right is always worth it. Even if she loses. Fighting for justice and goodness is often exhausting but always rewarding. 
  • And no matter what, remember that you can do this. She’s resilient and so are you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But never underestimate yourself or her.

I’m not sure if it’s normal to think about dying. Selling life insurance for several years certainly made it easier for me to talk about death. With any luck, we’ll be reading these together and laughing 50 years from now. But I would hate to go without imparting at least a little wisdom should I leave sooner than expected. 

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