I hope you remember this: A letter to my daughter

Julie Maclellan

I hope you remember this.

I catch myself thinking this more often these days, this small silent prayer that's part gratitude and part regret. It's not the kind of regret that's heavy with sorrow, but the gentlest and most delicate of sadness - a wispy, almost-too-fragile-to-grasp sort of feeling that announces itself at small and unexpected moments.

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Like that moment at the very end of the day when my two-year-old climbs into my lap for one last snuggle before bed, when I catch that scent of baby shampoo and freshly laundered pyjamas and the faintest whiff of baby smell that still clings to her soft skin.

That moment when, nearly asleep, she murmurs, "Happy birthday and a brown treat," her nightly heartfelt wish to Mommy for all the goodness she can conjure up in her two-year-old mind.

That moment in the rain when she spies a puddle and runs for it, full speed ahead, revelling in the satisfying sploosh of rubber boots through cold water.

That moment in the evening where she takes Daddy's hands and dances on the edge of the bathtub - foolishly, ridiculously, disproportionately pleased with herself and her world.

That moment when she climbs up on her small white stepstool to peer at herself in the mirror, smiling with satisfaction as she pronounces, "I so beautiful."

That moment when something - anything - sets her off and the world is suddenly too much for her small self to handle and there's nothing for it but to wail and cry and stomp her feet again and again and again until just as suddenly she's ready for a hug and she clings to Mommy with a fierceness that takes my breath away.

I hope you remember this.

This joy. This abandon. This sense of glorious freedom and confidence and the knowing that everything around you is yours to explore and discover and experience.

I hope you remember this.

This confidence. This belief in yourself. This joyous realization that you are a perfectly perfect person, a human being deserving of cupcakes and candles and celebration on every birthday and unbirthday life brings your way.

I hope you remember this.

This love. This trust. This absolute faith and conviction that no matter what you do, no matter where you are, no matter what's out there in the world - no matter how many big dogs bark and how many sirens wail and how many monsters make noises in the hallway - Mommy and Daddy are just one hug away from making it all okay.

I hope you remember this.

Every day I send this silent prayer to her, this blue-eyed, blonde-haired bundle of crazy unstoppable amazing who's still mine, still her Daddy's, but rapidly becoming her own human being. This bright, curious, talkative, bossy, joyous, silly little creature who radiates enthusiasm from every part of her tiny being.

Every day I wish harder than hard that it will never end, any of it. Even while knowing that it will. That life will inevitably change her. And me. And us. And our lives. Even while knowing that change is good, that life will bring new surprises, new adventures, new joys for all of us as her two years unfold into three and then four and then ten and sixteen and twenty-five and ...

I don't want time to stop. Not really. I just want to save those moments - so inconsequential and yet so momentous, so fleeting and yet so infinite. I want to lock them in a safe place where they can never be taken. Never disturbed. Never lost. Never forgotten.

So I hold them in the only place I can. In my memory. In my heart.

And I pray that she's holding them too - that even if she won't remember it all, that somehow it will exist in her forever. That when she's long grown and moved on and nary a trace of that tiny blonde two-year-old remains, that she'll somehow sense her mother's long-ago silent prayer - and that it will still make her smile.

So I whisper, a prayer from my heart to hers.

I hope you remember this.

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