Keep Your Fighting Spirit

Dear Aria,

I can hardly believe that in just a few days you’ll be turning 3. Already, I see shades of who you’re going to be when you grow up -- a spirited, hilarious, smart person who has boundless energy and curiosity. I don't ever want you to lose these qualities. I watch you strutting around with confidence, boldly asking people what their name is and I admire how forthright you are. I want you to always feel that you belong in the room, deserve to be part of the conversation and have something to offer. I always want you to feel good about yourself.

When you were first born, a tiny preemie weighing only 2 lbs. 10 oz., you had to fight for your life -– literally. You spent your first six weeks in the NICU, a harrowing time for me and your daddy, who had to rely on faith and the knowledge of the nurses and doctors that you would be okay. Those first few days were unimaginably difficult when I had no idea whether you would survive. You were whisked away from me in the operating room and I didn’t get to see you for over 24 hours. I worried that those hours away from you were costing us valuable bonding time that we would never get back. I worried that we wouldn’t form the mother-daughter bond I so desperately wanted.

Luckily, I was wrong. As I looked in your eyes in those first few days, I knew we had a deep connection and I feel that love for you every day. And I have such deep admiration for everything you went through. You started out a fighter and I always hope you'll remain a fighter. Fighting for what's best for yourself. Fighting for others. Fighting to do what’s right. And I want you to know that it's okay to take risks, that the specter of failure can sometimes make you not want to try -– but that you only hurt yourself but not trying.

You have so many gifts -– I can already see you have a love for learning, a fascination with music. Even though everyone says you look just like your daddy, I see echoes of my younger self in you, the child who was carefree. I want you to know that in life there will be times when your confidence will be shaken, your self-esteem might get bruised. But I want to instill in you a strong enough sense of yourself that despite those bumpy times, the core of who you are remains intact.

I already wonder who you’ll become as you grow older. What subjects will you love in school? What will you want to become? I love watching you transform and blossom every day, learning new words and perceiving the world in a different way. It’s an amazing gift and I feel so blessed to have you in my life. I can't wait to see the girl you become, the woman you become. I know you have amazing things in store -– and I’m lucky to have a front-row seat to watch.



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