To My Dearest Daughter Maddy,
As I am writing you this letter I am watching you play with your baby brother James in the park. You are both currently pretending to serve invisible cupcakes and pizza to invisible customers. You always had such an imagination. Ever so often I am hearing James call out for you to help him climb something. You’re such a good Ate*.
I am writing this letter to you in hopes that you will read this in the distant future. Hopefully as you are reading this myself and other women before you have made the world a more hopeful place. A place where you can fulfil your dreams and have more opportunities.
Mum isn’t the wisest person you will ever come across – Well, I certainly hope not. But as I’ve lived my life thus this far, there are a few things I’ve learnt along the way. A few secrets to a happier life. Shh… don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.
1. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should live your life – even dad and I.
This is your life, you are the only person living it, you are the only person dealing with the struggles, the thoughts and the results, so live it on your own accord.
I spent a lot of my years wasted by following other peoples rules, other peoples labels and expectations. I thought I had to be a certain way or else I was living life wrong. It was mentally and physically exhausting. It made me often cry and feel like I was never good enough.
People would tell me “You’re a mother, you can’t have a career, your only obligations are cooking and cleaning” or “You’re a Christian, you’re not allowed to associate with gay people and others belonging to different religions”. It wasn’t what I believed in, but it was what I was expected to live by.
People will tell you ‘You’re a girl, you’re a mother, you’re a wife, so you’re suppose to only do this and you can’t do that’. Honey, it’s all a bunch of bullsh*t.
Do not let other people define you. Whether it be a religion, a culture, a clique or society. No one tells you how you should be or what you’re expected to do. Follow your own set of rules – just don’t break the law. You know the difference between being a good person and being a bad person and that is all that matters. The sooner you free yourself from other peoples expectations and rules, the sooner you will be able to live your life for yourself.
In your lifetime you will go through many different types of relationships whether it be friendship or love. People will always come and go. I just want you to know the difference between someone who’s only meant to pass by and someone who’s meant to stay.
When I was younger your grandma and grandpa use to tell me “Vanessa I don’t like so and so as your friend, they don’t really care about you.” I use to snub their opinions and I ended up getting hurt. It’s true when they say you’re parents can tell when you’ve got a good person in your life and when you don’t. I was stubborn and blind, so I learnt the hard way.
You will have “friends” who only talk to you seasonally, who only approach you when they want something or need something. Those aren’t friends.
You will also have “friends” who only care about social status and climbing the social ladder – those aren’t friends. They have issues they need to deal with on their own.
Then you will also meet the people that only want to have fun. That is what they are there for. To have fun. So have fun with them. Just remember gossiping is not a way to have fun, hurting others is not a way to have fun.
Don’t be friends with people who make you question yourself as a human being, who make you cry or feel awful. Don’t associate with people who enjoy hurting others and gossip. If they can do it to other people, how do you know they don’t do it to you?
Find a partner that cherishes you and loves you as you do them. There has to be a balance. No they love me more than I love them. I don’t want you to be in that kind of toxic relationship. Find someone that is gentle, caring, loving and passionate. Find someone just like your father. I struck gold with him – there aren’t many men as wonderful as your father is.
Your partner needs to be present. Your partner needs to notice when you are struggling and they need know when to help you. Never settle for someone who only has their own feelings in mind.
Remember, relationships need a strong foundation and hard work from both ends. It is a a two way street. If you don’t find the right person, then don’t be in a relationship. Don’t fear the word single.
3. Work your ass off.
You can be anything you want to be in this world. Anything.
You want to build an empire? You can do it.
You want to teach primary school? You can do it.
If what you want to do isn’t even a job title… make it one.
You can do absolutely anything this world has to offer. BUT. You need to work your ass off. The world owes you absolutely nothing. You will never get what you want by just sitting down and expecting it to happen. You have to go out there and do what you can, with all you can, to get what you want.
Have passion for life and work hard. If you work hard, you put in the time, the effort and the focus – you can do anything you want in life.
4. Be strong and stand up.
It’s hard to know who you are as a person. It’s taken mum this long and I’m still unsure on days. Some people live their whole life not knowing who they are until they’re last five minutes of life. But know your values, know what you believe in and don’t be afraid to stand up and argue.
Live your life with passion, be offended. Because I want you too be a strong woman who’s not afraid to speak up. Don’t sit on the side lines while you watch someone get bullied or hurt. Don’t just sit on the side lines when someone tells you you can’t do something. You shut them up and let them know they can’t make that same mistake again.
Don’t be afraid to be who you are and act like how you want to. This is your life, your body, your personality. Don’t change yourself to “fit in”. Right now there are far too many women who look like a Kardashian – it’s ridiculous.
5. Don’t judge. Always be kind.
Be kind. Princess please be kind to people. Stay as kind hearted as you are now. Share. Give what you can to those who are less fortunate. Mum and Dad didn’t work hard so that the world could suffer.
Never ever hurt someone on purpose. The last thing I want is to receive a call from school to find out that you’ve been a bully.
Treat everyone with respect and stand up for those who have no voice. We are lucky and fortunate enough to live in a country where our voice is heard and I want you to share that blessing with the world.
Don’t be afraid to apologise – when you’ve done something wrong.
Don’t judge. Be open minded. The sooner you realise there is diversity in the world, the sooner you will lose your fear of the unknown and instead become curious and happier. Not everyone will live their life like you, and you won’t live your life like everyone else.
As much as I’d like to trust that your father and I have raised you with enough knowledge to battle everything that comes at you in your adults life, I’m never sure. And in all honesty, that terrifies me. It terrifies every mother.
I never want to see you suffer, hurt or experience any moments in your life of self doubt.
There’s a quote by Peggy O’mara and she said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” And I am doing everything in my might to instil in your mind that you are a beautiful, loving, strong woman who can do anything and everything she wants to in life. Please never think otherwise.
I love you so much.
Ps. Make your brother read this, if you can… he’s always been a stubborn little bugger.
*Ate – a filipino term added to females older than you as a sign of respect.