The day you came into this world was the day I learned that no amount of planning could have prepared me for you. You arrived two weeks early, on the Fourth of July, which was also your big brother’s third birthday. You decided 4:30 a.m. was the perfect time to wake us up and rush us to the hospital with barely minutes to spare before you made your grand entrance at 5:55 a.m. When your brother was born on July 4, I said he was my little firework. Well, my dear, you are the entire fireworks store. You exploded onto the scene and into our hearts and you haven’t looked back since.
I hope your spark never fades!
Life will put countless challenges in front of you. People will try and tell you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, tall enough, strong enough. Friends will turn on you, grownups won’t believe in you, adversaries will do everything they can to tear you down. We live in a world where women are held to a different standard. There will be times that the qualities viewed as strength in your brother are viewed as weakness in you. You will be held to expectations that your brother will not, and he will be presented with opportunities that are withheld from you.
Through your life, you will need to navigate these societal pressures, and it will be tough. But I know you are tougher and will rise above it.
At 3 years old, you are bold, opinionated, and very particular in your taste. You know what you want and are unafraid to go after it. You know what you need and are steadfast in your desire to get exactly that. When you were a newborn, you only nursed for the amount of time you needed to get the milk you wanted. As much as I tried for those long nursing sessions filled with soft baby cuddles, you had zero interest in prolonging something that could be accomplished in 15 minutes or less. But if I didn’t nurse you the exact moment you wanted it, you certainly let me know.
It’s important to remember, though, that being strong-willed doesn’t preclude you from also embracing the observant, kind and incredibly thoughtful side of who you are. A few weeks ago, your Gu Po Po (great aunt) was trying to reach a balloon that had floated to the ceiling. In the midst of a tantrum, you saw her need, stopped crying and raced over with a stool. You are always there with a hug and a “I love you, mama” when I’m having a tough time. And your love for your brother is unmatched.
Never lose that drive and determination, my darling. Never settle for what someone else wants you to be. Never lose your sense of self. You don’t need to prove your worth. You ARE worthy.
When they call you bossy, remind them you are confident and assertive.
When they call you picky because you have an opinion, tell them you know what you like and you will not lower your standards.
When they call you emotional, remember that empathy is at the heart of your humanity.
When they call you small, show them just how big you are with your brain, your personality and your love.
When they accuse you of having RBF and tell you to smile more, tell them you don’t owe it to anyone to smile if you don’t feel like it.
And when they tell you, “you can’t do it,” choose only to hear the words “DO IT.”
(Except when I tell you that you cannot scale the side of the stairs to the second floor. That’s for your own safety. Please stop doing that!)
The world can be a tough place for women like us… petite, Asian women who are stereotyped as being obedient, quiet and submissive. In your short three years in this world, you have proven you are anything but.
As exhausting as it is to be your mama on those days when you are determined to make your own decisions, even if they endanger your life, don’t ever change. The world needs more girls like you! Ambitious. Self-assured. Courageous. Rule-breakers. Dream-chasers.
My little love, you are fearless. You are fierce. And someday very soon, you are going to change the world.