After seeing the documentary, Girl Rising, I felt I had a few things to say to my daughter…. and, well, everyone else too. If you have the opportunity to see the film – male or female – please do. It will change you. I promise.
Dear Daughter –
On the day you arrived into my life, nearly 13 years ago (5 weeks before you were due to arrive!), I knew I was so incredibly blessed. Your tiny little fingers, your 10 perfect toes, you bright blue eyes. My first thought was sheer happiness and joy and my second thought was filled with terror and fear. How could I possibly raise this gorgeous little person to be the best that you could be? What if I messed up? Who would you become? Where will you end up?
I will admit. I was terrified.
Then you went off to your first day of school a few years later…and that had to be one of the most terrifying days yet… how could the school possibly know how to take care of you as well as I did? How could I possibly let you head out into the world without me? But you know what? You’ve done great! You have grown into a wonderful young lady that values what you have in life. I am so very proud of you!
So…as I was watching Girl Rising and learning more about girls in other nations I realized that my concerns, while real to me, are dreams of other mothers. These are dreams only some could hope for one day. The chance to even send their daughters to school is beyond their reach and their fears are exponentially greater than anything I will ever imagine in my worst nightmares.
With that being said, YOU really are one of the lucky ones. When you get up at 6:30am every day to get ready for school, (which I know you hate!) you are lucky. You have the chance to learn, and grow, and expand your future. There are girls around the world that will never have that chance. They will never learn to read and get lost in a book like you can. They will never learn to write and share their creative mind on paper like you do. They will never excel in science, or play the viola in an orchestra, or learn the difference between Monet and Van Gogh.
So, just as a gentle reminder… never, ever waste that chance. Never ever think it doesn’t matter. And never ever take for granted the opportunities you have because not everyone has that same chance. You, my daughter, will go on to be incredibly successful in life. You can choose what you want to do and, better yet, there is no limit to what you can do! You can be anything you want to be, and I hope you do the things you love the most…be an astronaut, a teacher, a coffee barista, a doctor, a or even President, I don’t really care, but the point is that you have a choice. However, the one thing I do hope, in whatever you chose to do – I hope that you will be a change agent in the world that we live. I hope that you will see the greater good and use your voice to change the things you don’t agree with and help others who cannot help themselves.
You are a beautiful person, inside and out. You have a heart of gold and a conscious to go along with it. You can always find the best in others. You bring sunshine into a room and you make me smile at the sound of your laugh. Never forget that you are smart – smarter than you think – and you should never waste a second of an opportunity to learn something more and make change around you. I can attest that learning never stops. I am still learning new things every single day!
In the film there was a little girl named Wadley. I imagine you and her would get along well. Wadley refused to be denied the chance to go to school after her family was hit by hard times and could not pay for it. And you know what, Wadley got to go to school because she knew it was where she belonged. She wanted a better life. And she knew that her education would help her get there. Education can unlock so many things for you, too – never forget that.
Just remember, there are girls around the world who will never step foot into a school – ever. They will be sold into slavery by the age of 6 and by the age of 11 or 12 their family will marry them off. They will be mothers by age 13. That is how old you are now. Can you imagine?
You are one smart cookie, kiddo. I already know that you know how lucky you really are. Motherhood is a scary world – but with a kid like you, it’s full of rainbows and sunshine! Thanks for being a great kid who knows the value of your education and the opportunities that you are given. I can’t wait to see where it takes you one day!
I love you with all my heart…and more!