Dear Daughter

As your sixth birthday approaches, I see the telltale signs. I know my sweet chubby-faced baby girl is melting away before my eyes.

Sometimes when we hug, I catch a faint glimpse of her still–your warm soft cheek pressed up against mine, silky eyelashes fluttering shut as you gently sigh–innocence refusing to budge. Nestling into my heart.

I breathe it in with the hope I will always remember.

And that you will, too.


But for now, let’s get down to business.

Dude. Living life is just like….soooo exhausting.

This is Your Life

Listen up. I need to let you know a few things about the rest of your life.
Things my own mother never told me. Things I hope you understand one day.
Hopefully, sooner than I did.

  • Laugh. All the time. Giggle like a maniac. Chortle. Snort. Guffaw. Don’t be shy. Let the giddy tears flow. Make a fool of yourself. There is nothing else like it.
    I’m surprisingly very good at it.
  • Cry if you want to cry. Never let anyone tell you it’s ‘weak’.
    It can be very lucrative. I can cry at a drop of a hat. It’s gotten me pretty far in life.
  • When a bully pushes you down on the playground, stand right back up and get up in his/her grill. Don’t be afraid.  If the tears flow, it’s all right. Get mad. Get sad. But stand back up to them. Understand that maybe they don’t know what they’re doing.  You need to let them know it’s not right. Then tell a teacher.
    Maybe hire your older brother to be your bodyguard, pay him in Twinkies.
    Worked for me.
  • No one will ever remember the day in second grade when you puked all over the lunch table because Jimmy Libby shoved mac-n-cheese up his nose.
    Except maybe Jimmy Libby.
  • When your older brother tells you it’s a good idea to jump off the garage roof into the swimming pool,
    it isn’t.
  • When your older brother wants to play ‘target practice’ using  a slingshot, some marbles and your head,
    run away.
  • Thanks to your dad and your older brother, you will never go on a single date until you’re 21. They mean well, they just know it will take a special person to earn your heart.
    And a strong man who can disarm a dad with a 20 gauge shotgun.
  • You will hurt others one day. Tell them you’re sorry while you still have the chance.
    We all make mistakes, all the time.
    Like the time I held my curling iron in my best friend’s hair until I smelled burnt flesh. Note: hairspray only helps fuel the flames.
  • We are always learning. No one has all the answers.
    Except your mother.
  • If you feel anger, feel it. It’s okay to be mad sometimes. Don’t wish it away or bury it deep down. Face it. Never feel guilty about how you’re feeling. Accept it, transform it. It’s there to teach you.
    Then after you’ve had enough– make sure you release it and move on.
    I also find screaming into a pillow, and consuming a gallon of chocolate ice cream while watching a Nora Ephron movie marathon helps calm me as well.
  • Make new friends, but keep the old.
    One is silver and more likely to lend you money.
  • The only thing anyone ever wants is for someone to understand them, to accept them for exactly who they are deep down inside.
    The stuff we see on the outside? Doesn’t matter even the tiniest bit.
    Remember this when your mother is wearing her bra on the outside of her clothes.
  • Genius is 1% inspiration, 98% perspiration,
    and 1% Extra Strength jasmine-scented deodorant.
  • Dance like no one is watching.
    Fart like no one is around.
    No, really. Make sure no one is around when you fart. Men don’t think women fart, it’s a huge top secret conspiracy and I’d like to keep it that way.
  • Learn how to deal with spiders on your own. Be brave. Scoop them up carefully with a newspaper and shoo them out the door because they have families too.
    Or squash them into bug juice while hyperventilating and screaming–your choice.
  • Unclog your own sinks/toilets, hook-up your own stereo/DVR, change your car’s oil–by yourself.  Don’t rely on a man to do it for you.
    Rely on a man to be there when you need to bitch about doing everything around the house.
  • Stay away from any boy who starts his sentences with, “Duuuuude….”
  • Learn how to cook.
    Hot Pockets don’t count.
    Lean Pockets do.
  • Don’t bother separating whites from colors, just wash everything in cold, make sure you fold right away or things will get all wrinkly, and never, ever under any circumstances,
    bring home your laundry on the weekends.
  • Get a job.
    I’m kidding. You’re only six.
    No, seriously, get a job. Sell some Girl Scout Cookies, something.
  • Nature is free and it’s better than HDTV.
    Now get out of the house.
  • All things must pass.
    Don’t worry, all this lame advice I’m giving you right now is almost over. But I’m gonna leave you with a little more, so pay close attention to the next three, okay?
    (Try very hard not to roll your eyes.)
  • Trust that your sorrow–all those tears, the heavy ache you might feel in your heart–will dissolve someday. The darkness isn’t forever. The sheer light of hope and love will crush it to dust. It will. Grab onto that little ray of light and never let go of it no matter how much you want to. If you can’t find it, come to me and I’ll shine it on you.
  • Smile. It feels pretty dang good, doesn’t it?
  • I love you.


Happy birthday, my sweet pea,  Little Miss J


122 thoughts on “Dear Daughter

  1. Wait…wait…I can’t find my tissues. I never had a daughter, DJ. But I’m so glad you did. She is precious. I love your letter to her – all the advice is spot on. Happy Birthday little one.

  2. What a perfect letter — one with enough humor that she might even read it when you’re not looking.

    What a great Mom.

    Happy Birthday to one very lucky little girl.

    1. Thanks, Elyse. maybe one day she will read this and get through the entire thing without smirking too much.

      And I can’t think of a better compliment than being called a great mom. She is one amazing girl, so it’s easy for me.

  3. That is so sweet and beautiful, with all the right words. My mom waited till I turned 30 to write me one of those and till this day I can’t even look at it without tearing up. Good job and Happy Birthday cutie!

    1. Aw, thanks so much! I am having a very hard time with her turning six. I suppose it’s because she’s my last. I sure hope she reads it one day (she is just starting how to read, so it might not be long…)

    1. Thanks, Weebles. My mom never did, either. I actually have a little journal of sorts where I’ve written down all my thoughts about each of my kids when they were newborns, on up to the present. I hope they appreciate that one day. I am hopelessly sentimental and mushy.

  4. So beautiful, and you managed to keep it funny and teary all at once; that’s an art!
    She’s just gorgeous, and you’re both lucky to have each other. Happy Birthday, sweetie!!

  5. Curly Carly

    Hmm, can’t help but notice you’ve made me cry twice lately. That’s quite a feat, especially since you normally make me laugh. Great letter. Save that so she can read it when she’s older!

    1. haha! I made you cry twice? when was the other time?? and I cried when I wrote the last few lines of this, I have to admit. (dammit, stupid hormones…)
      I will probably print this out and put it into her little baby book, good idea.

    1. I am super lucky to have her. And smart, cool, pretty? me? are you sure we’re talkin’ bout the same person? Good. my evil plan to create a blog persona has worked! (and thanks for the compliment, really)

  6. My best suggestion? Always smile – it makes people wonder what you’re up to. And if you screw up a college class or two (or three 😉 ), don’t sweat it. After your first job, they don’t even LOOK at your transcripts. Trust me, I know. 😀
    And learn how a gun works. Especially, learn how to take it apart and put it back together. You will NEVER have to use it, you will impress the HECK outta the right kind of guy, and you will TERRIFY the losers. A 3-way win. 😉
    Great stuff. And a gorgeous photo. Also teach her how to use a sword. Works even better than a gun, and they don’t go off when you drop them – though they can permanently trim your toenails…. 😯

      1. Okay, I was expecting a little drubbing for the “gun” comment, so let me give you two real life examples. 1) One of our fellow re-enactors collected stuff. Stuff like TANKS. Yeah – multiple. He also had a daughter in her late teens. She had several suitors, but Dad would inevitably roll up in either one of the tanks, or the armoured car with a BIG gun on it, and the miscreants usually ran off. One kid not only stood his ground, but was in HEAVEN seeing the vehicle – and correctly identified it! He is now a son-in-law.
        2) A co-worker had a daughter with a REALLY bad track record. Even she admitted it. The father, my buddy Gary, talked about greeting the next guy in his underwear, with a beer and a shotgun in hand, I told him to have his daughter sitting there with him, helping to clean his M-1 Garand (as used by our WW2 troops). Sure enough, the stream of deadbeats disappeared, and Gary actually approved of a couple guys, though it didn’t work out. Last I heard, she had Gary build her a flintlock musket (his hobby), and was sorting through boyfriends by which ones turned green at the sight of her cleaning the huge thing! 😀

  7. All sound advice to a daugther and a generation. I especially like Get a Job. As somone who works in industry, it is troubling to see that lack of skills from the new generation of workers.

    By the way, my first was born in 1985. My last (my only girl) will be thirteen next summer. I look at those baby pictures and they seem like a thousand years ago and just yesterday all at the same time.

    Great blog.


    1. Thanks, Tim. And oh, yes, never too early to tell your kid to get a job, I tell my son this every day. He’s ten. When I was 11, I was already babysitting on weekends and delivering papers after school. I say, go work at McDonald’s (and bring me some free Big Macs)

  8. Darla, it’s a beautiful letter to your daughter. Your words are always heart touching. I am sure this post is going to be a precious thing for your daughter when she will grow up. Happy birth day to her. Do not forget to pass on my wish and blessings to her. :).

  9. Wow, D, that’s so weird – I’m already wearing my boxer briefs on the outside. Is that wrong? At least I can still remember who my wife is and sometimes I’m even able to call the dog by his own name instead of one of the kids.

    Hope six is one of her favorite birthdays, and your advice is very sweet, my friend.

    1. Dog…kids….it’s all the same, isn’t it?

      Soooo good to ‘see’ you slowly coming your way back to the wacky wordpress world, MJ. Need help moving? Or packing? Or unpacking? Oh, that’s right, I live way too far away for that, darn.

  10. Damnit, Darla!!! I mean, I love you and wish your daughter a very happy birthday and all, but…..why do you always make me giggle like a silly schoolgirl at your hilarity, then smack me upside the head…..WHAM….right at the end. And…..tears.

    For shame, Darla. :p

  11. cooper

    don’t worry about the chubby face melting or you’ll miss the sweet smile at six..which also will eventually melt away when bounding into the teen years when it becomes a snarl – the smile does come back later on so never fear. What a great post!

  12. Touching and hilarious, which is exactly how I felt after just watching a movie I finally liked Crazy Stupid love and now your post was the same, funny and pulled the heart strings (I’ll blame it on the amaretto’s I’m drinking)

    1. aw, I love that movie too (I actually went out and bought it). Steve Carell is awesome (okay, and Ryan Hubba-Hubba Gosling is too)

      But I don’t believe it’s the amarettos, Joe. Oh, no. Don’t fight it, let that little child inside you come out and cry. It’s okay, there, there, it’ll be all right, I promise.
      Embrace the light. (or is it rage against the dying of the light? I can never remember….)

  13. When she’s washing all the clothes together, if there is something new, like a red sweatshirt, have her throw a color catcher in the load. They really work. Or don’t tell her and let her experience what we all go through, with the pink everything. Fantastic advice. Funny, as usual, and so moving.

  14. Excellent advice, Darla. I hope little Miss J had the best birthday ever. They do grow up so fast. My granddaughter told me this weekend that she doesn’t want to turn 12 next year because soon she’ll be a teenager. I know that will change as will she. But I’m enjoying the time my husband and I can spend with her and her brother, age 9, for as long as I can.

    1. People always told me, enjoy these times now because you’ll blink and it’ll be over and I would just shake my head. Of course, now I know they were absolutely right. It is going too fast, I’m not sure I’m liking how fast now. I am able to look forward to being a grandma one day so that gives me hope.

  15. Awww-she is so sweet! That smile is a killer!
    I think we have missed the boat with birthdays It is the mothers who should be celebrated At least we are able to remember the day the child was born….they can’t. So happy daughter’s sixth birthday to you! It is such a fantastic age.

    1. Oh yes, the day she was born is etched in my mind forever. I can still picture her tiny head and her little hands as I was holding her. It really is something you never forget. I try to pick her up now and I practically throw my back out.

  16. Wonderful advice for all of us. Here’s some for you: don’t despair when between the ages of 14 and 20 your daughter regards you as some sort of out-of-touch dinosaur. As you noted yourself, this too shall pass. Sometime between the ages of 24 and 30, she will likely be amazed by how incredible your advice truly is.

  17. Sniffle, can I be your daughter? This is awesome! I think it applies to sons too, well some of it anyway.

    I hope you save this and give it to her some day. She is so lucky to have you as her mother.

    Happy birthday lucky little girl.

  18. Duuuuuude… this post was totes awesome, yo.

    Really, now, very well written. Right now my 6-week-old is chirping and grunting, stretching and farting, trying to decide whether or not to wake up. It’s a big decision, and not one to be rushed in to. It’s inconceivable to me that she’s going to be walking around someday and have interests and such. Right now it’s all about eating and trying to lift her head. And for me it’s all about sleep and trying to get her to like me as much as she likes her mom. Okay, more.

    1. Oh, I remember those chirping, farting, grunting days! Like it was just yesterday. It was yesterday. I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching football.

      And, you might as well know this now (don’t tell your wife) but fathers and daughters have a super special bond that nothing will ever come close to. My daughter thinks the sun rises and sets with her dad.

  19. Juliaaaaaa! Happy birthday!!!

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this, DP. I laughed out loud several times
    (“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and more likely to lend you money.” HA!), nodding ferociously the rest of the time. One of the reasons I love talking to you on the phone so much is because I can feel the love in your home / among your family just radiating out and covering the world in the good stuff. Same thing goes for your blog.

    And I’m going to assume the Lean Pocket advice was, in fact, directed at me. Thank you. Dually noted.

    1. Aw, ‘feel the love’. That is the sweetest thing to say. You probably caught me on a good day that time we talked, JD. I have my moments when I get grumpy, trust me…or when the hellions drive me up a wall. This is where alcohol comes into play.

      And yes, the hot pockets were inspired by you. Also, I eat them all the time. the lean ones aren’t so guilt-inducing. Was it wrong that I served them as appetizers at my brother’s Thanksgiving meal?

  20. She will treasure this forever. At least, I hope so,because no one ever wrote me anything like this and right now, I’m insanely jealous. I hope you’ll continue to associate with my blog because Sister and I have a habit of beginning every sentence with Dude!” Not a long, drawn-out “Duuuuuuude,” but a short, attention-getter. I hope you understand the difference.

  21. Aw!! :Love it all; such great advice. Especially the references to big brother-isms. Those older male sibs can sure get a gal into trouble (I’m guessing you’d know a bit about that).

    She is precious, Darla. Love that smile. If that doesn’t brighten Mama’s day, I don’t know what would.

    Happy Birthday, Little Miss J. Wish you could come over and play with Ginny-Gin-Gin.

    1. why, yes, many a time my older brothers would trick me into playing some silly game where I’d end up in the ER. The Marble Rocket Game, The Bottle Rocket Game, The Lawn Dart Rocket Game. The Steel Rod Found on the Side of the Road Rocket Game. Anything that could become a projectile and hit me square in the head was their goal. I may have suffered many concussions and didn’t even know it. Explains a lot about me now, doesn’t it? Who are you again?

  22. Awwwww! That was truly awesome, DarDar. I hope you print this and tape it to her head. However, I can’t believe you didn’t share your douching advice. Otherwise this would’ve felt more like the mother-daughter walks by the ocean that I’m more accustomed to.

    Happy birthday, Daughter of DarDar! (Soundslike a Star Trek character, no?)

    1. Douching advice! Damn, I forgot! maybe you could dig up a lovely little douching commercial from say, the ’80s and blog about it now? hmmmm?

      Daughter of DarDar shall be Julia’s name forthwith and forevermore.

  23. Ugly crying to the MAX as I’m reading. Beautiful. And this: “Get a job.
    I’m kidding. You’re only six.
    No, seriously, get a job. Sell some Girl Scout Cookies, something.” Genius.

  24. This is pure gold! And I hope someday I will have a daughter to lend the same types of worldly wisdom onto as well. And I definitely think I have let out a leak in the whole farting conspiracy,…I tried to blame it on the cat! But I don’t think it worked…

    1. Gasp! What are you saying, Cassy? Oh, no. No, no, no, noooo. You never fart. Ever. Right? (even though Oprah and Dr. Oz once told me we all fart 10-12 times a day and it’s completely normal, I admit nothing.)

      1. I… I don’t know! I didn’t mean to… it was the alcohol and wings! It just happened! And we don’t have a dog…so the cat was the next best thing… except they weren’t in the room! I am so unworthy of my womanly status. =(

        1. Rookie mistake. It’s okay. Next time, make sure at least one animal is within 10 feet of you when you let it…ahem…go. I’d like to also point out this is why it’s a good thing to have kids. Always blame it on them.

  25. This is so very sweet and touching and wonderful – I’m getting all weepy. Thanks for saying that’s OK.

    Happy, happy birthday to your little sweet pea!

    Oh, and thanks for the update on that old Girl Scout song about making new friends. It’s so right-on for today.

  26. Wow…your letter to your little girl is definitely with words of wisdom…you’ve said it brilliantly…most of your advice was always what I have in mind for my kids as well but you did it so well, tremendously awesome….I love this post!

    ~Super G

  27. Running from Hell with El

    I laughed and I cried when I read this. So much of it was hilarious (the swimming pool, the sling shot, the fart conspiracy, giggle) but it was also so sweet and heartwarming. I loved it.

  28. Aw! This post was the perfect blend of sweet, sappy, cheesy, and heart-warming. I wanted to hug it like a kitten decked out in a glittery ribbon, but part of me thought, “Wait, is that wrong?” As they say, Darla– if loving this post is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Happy birthday to your daughter! (She’s super close in age to my niece who will turn 6 at the beginning of Feb.)

  29. Cute kid and some great advice. My baby girl turns 10 later this year. I write my kids handwritten notes on their birthdays and on their first days of school (and when I can intermittently). I may steal some of these for her birthday letter! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for reading, glad you liked it. That is so sweet you write your kids handwritten notes. My son turns 11 in a few months and he only leave me notes on his bedroom door that basically say ‘keep out’ now. But he’s still my baby boy no matter how old he gets.

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