The Relevance of Change and the Importance of Decisions: Letter To My Daughter

Mother and Daughter
(Photo: By B. Goodjoin)

I have been journaling for most of my life–not consistently—but, enough so that there is a pretty clear track record of the ups and downs I have been through since middle/high school. Every year since your birth, I have been writing you poems and letters on your birthday. Letting you know how much you mean to me in writing. Thinking about it, I have actually written you enough birthday letters that we could actually publish them into their own chapbook (Happy 34th Baby!)

Today, I am not sure, but this may be a long, rambling note that goes, God knows where. I awakened early 3 a.m. reflecting on my life and how I actually ended up here . . . in this home, with a wonderful husband, 2 children that I am proud of, and a grandson who is as witty and intelligent as Daniel is. I am truly blessed, and I don’t take that for granted, but I also know that things I have gone through haven’t been easy. I’ve had joys and sorrows, up and downs; I have had moments of elation and times that have been so heart-wrenching that I wanted to die–prayed to die–but God kept me here for this moment in time. Tears may fall as I write, I am sure to have misspellings and bad punctuation as I write, but This is me.

My earliest memory of myself, is of me standing on the front porch of a clapboard house (painted white, as they were back in the day). I am on the front porch with my mom and some of the aunties and cousins…in my minds eye, I am probably about 4 years old. I remember being happy (seems like granny had made some parched peanuts lol) and we were eating and playing.

The snapshot changes–to elementary school. I started first grade along with my brother Shawn. Everybody thought we were twins, but, our birthdays were about 9 months apart (imagine that). I loved him like he was my twin.

We were half grown, when he died in the car accident so many years ago. I thought I would die with him . . . but I didn’t. That was the first real heartache that I can remember. I was about 22 and you were 2 years old. Your uncle “Shawnie Boy” (his nickname) loved you, so much. He would walk around carrying you or pushing you in the stroller. Take you for drives to the store or to the park, and just spoil you for no reason (just because). I thank God you were not in the car with him when he hit that tree, because you were the reality that kept me going. You were the routine that kept me breathing after he passed away.

My middle school years and high school years were not that dramatic. I was and have always been a book nerd. Never was good at sports (any of them), I was never a social butterfly (still the same), never went to a prom (not interested and couldn’t afford a dress if I was interested), and met your dad (who I liked very much).

As I got older, married ( had your brother, and divorced), life continued to have ups and downs. Despite the hard times, and sometimes bad decisions, I managed to weather the storms to see this day. Even with the peace that this early morning has for me, I know that there are days that are going to come that hold uncertainties (good and bad). It’s the changes that we face in that build our character and strengths. The decisions that we make and implement help define the outcomes that we have to deal with.

The one consistency, throughout my life, has been my mother (your grandmother). She is the one who I have leaned upon and confided in and there have been times when we have had to hold each other up as we weather through life. I think it’s important to have a “sounding board” with whom we can reason with. Even when she told me something I didn’t like or we had an occasional disagreement, I know that my mom has always wanted nothing but the best for me. Even in those “I told you so” moments when I had to tell her she was right (through the snot and tears I cried) she was there for me to help me get out of the situations in which I found myself.

Another rock that I leaned upon was your Aunt Niecy. My sis and I have argued and fought, but there has always been a bond between us that nothing could break. My big sister the antagonist, and my she-ro who will help us without question. When you needed a car and I couldn’t afford it, she bought you a car. That car carried you through college and through your first years of “scraping” by after graduating and getting a job, and supporting “D”. Family is important. Your uncles “G”, “B”, and “P” have all been integral in your life. Always willing to do what is needed to help without asking for a dime or anything else in return. We have always been close knit through family dinners and family vacations, weddings, funerals, etc. I pray that as they have supported you throughout the years, that you also are there to support them whenever they should have a need.

I started this letter in regards to change and decisions, didn’t I, well the point is this . . .

Cherish the moments of your youth, for it (youth) is fleeting. Take time to honor and show love to those ,you love, for tomorrow is not promised. Every decision that you make determines what happens, so, choose with some thought and wisdom. Change is going to happen, both positive and negative, so as you react to it, react with as much grace as possible. Especially with the hard, difficult, heart-wrenching moments, don’t make them worse by reacting in anger and seeking revenge. It’s easy to lash out without thinking. It can hard to try to apologize for our actions, and even though angry words and actions may be forgiven, they will NEVER be FORGOTTEN.

Every decision that you make and everything that you encounter is life is leading you to your present. I want you to consider the things that you do and the impressions you make upon your sweet child. At 10, he needs less phone and game time, and more face-to-face time with you and with all of us.

Here at home, I deleted all the games on the devices and changed the passwords so we could not have those distractions. I encourage you and his dad to help build “D’s” confidence and creativity, by doing the same. I have seen too many children and adults ( ) tune out the people who love them because of addictions to gaming. It’s in the building of social skills that families, communities, and societies are made. We need to hone our own creativity in order to build and succeed.

When I tell both you and your brother that YOU ARE MY GREATEST GIFTS TO ME, I mean that to the utmost! I would not change one thing in my life good or bad, because you two are the result of everything that made me, who I am. If I erased one joy or one heart-ache, it would change everything. But, I can say that I pray that you and “J” will have lives full of meaningful moments and deep true love. I pray that you both will build off of every word and action that I share with you in my lifetime, in order to leave a legacy for future generations to build upon.

Thank you for being a great daughter, a great mom, and for being successful in your field. Cherish all the good (keep the memories) and use them to keep going when things get hard and problems seem insurmountable. I am not going to get all “preachy” and tell you to get closer to God, but, I will say that having a spiritual connection will be a positive in your life. Meditation, prayer, and quiet times with nature will help be a light on your darkest days, and will also give you a deeper appreciation of the good and joyful times.

As long as I have breath and wisdom to share, know that I am here for all of you, but your life is your life. You have to live it to the best of your ability and grow into your season.

Loving You With All My Heart,