Good morning, beautiful girl. How’d you sleep? You must’ve grown last night–your hair is crazy curly this morning! Yup, you grew. You’ve added a whole bunch of shoulder. Some leg, too. Look at that! Your head is clear up to my shoulder!

What’s that? Your shorts are uncomfortable again? Wow, that was fast. Just one month and you’re out of another size. Well, can you tolerate them just for…no? Okay, pants it is. Hopefully it won’t be too hot today. I’ll change my schedule today to see if I can find something that’s comfortable for you. I know SPD is hard, baby. I’m here. We’ll figure it out together.

You want pancakes this morning? Sounds good.

While you’re eating, I just have to say…

I love you. Have loved you since the moment I realized, when I was four months pregnant, that when I sang you would get still in my belly. So quiet and listening hard to every word I sang. And when I was done you’d go right back to squirming.

You’re a miracle. Every child is. But you’re a miracle to me because, for some unknown reason, you love me like a flower loves and tracks the sun. You look at me like I actually deserve the love and adoration you give me. And those things make me want to earn that love. Every day. You’re a big bright ball of warm light, beautiful girl, and I am in awe of you every day.

SPD makes you melt down over little things and yet, when the big stuff hits the fan–like my cancer–you handle it with a mix of serious questions and big humor and short tolerance for wallowing. I couldn’t ask for a better battle buddy. (Ask Aunt Sarah what that means. She was Army for eight years during 9/11, both as enlisted and officer. The answer she speaks aloud will only be half the answer she’ll give you.) My only regret is having to ask so much of you so young.

What do you want to be when you grow up? An artist! Outstanding! What kind of art? Sculpture? Cool! Be what you want to be, who you want to be, and all the rest can go away. Make no apologies, even to yourself, especially when you’re confused and don’t know what you want. IT’S OKAY. Take your time and figure it out as you go. It’s the only thing that ever worked.

It’s how you show yourself love.

You saw how I started this post, with our every-morning-conversation? How I noticed what was new about you? And how (on my good days) I accepted those new things and rolled with them regardless of whether other people might call them “good” or “bad”?

That’s love, my dear. Pure, unconditional love. And if you can do that for yourself as you age, my dearest, you will live an astonishingly beautiful life.

Every parent knows that their child is born in astonishing beauty. It’s the work of a lifetime to recognize that we never, ever lose that beauty. We just sometimes lose sight of it.

Love reveals our beauty for all to see.

Love yourself, my beautiful girl. And all life’s lessons, no matter how hard, will add to your beauty.