To My Daughter, On The ‘Hard Days’

By Kimberly Zapata

Dearest daughter,

This morning you tried my patience.

I mean, you didn’t wake up in a bad mood — nor did I. In fact, you crawled into my bed just before 6AM, placed your little arms around my neck and said “good morning Mommy” before offering me a kiss. Before asking me to help you put on Dolly’s shoes. But then your mood shifted. You didn’t want to go to the bathroom or brush your teeth. You told me I couldn’t touch your hair, and the very suggestion that you put on clothes sent you into a tailspin.

Before long, you were screaming, kicking, and crying.

You literally threw yourself on the floor.

I could feel my chest tightening and my throat closing. The anger was rising as I picked you up and carried you over to the bathroom sink. As I tried to prep your toothbrush with one hand and hold your red, wriggling body with the other. But you kept crying and fighting.

You wouldn’t listen to my words, and my actions, well, they only fueled your tears.

Eventually, I managed to wrestle the toothbrush into your mouth, but in the process you banged your elbow. You hit your “funny bone” on the bathroom counter, and you shrieked. You ran from the room, covered in snot and tears, and to your father.

“Daddy, Mommy hurt me,” you whined. You looked at me with anger and disdain. You whimpered and sniffled, and then you turned away — clinging to Daddy’s leg.

My heart dropped because those words cut me like little daggers.

Because those four words — “Mommy, you hurt me” — shook me to the core.

You see, I never mean to hurt you, dearest daughter. Let me repeat that: I never, EVER want to hurt you, and every time you cry, I cry. Even when your tears are the result of a tantrum. Even when your tears are the result of learning a hard life lesson — i.e. you cannot watch TV all day, you must eat dinner before dessert, and you have to wash your hands after using the potty.

(Seriously. The sink isn’t that bad.)

And while you may not see me cry because there is a scowl on my face, or anger in my eyes, eventually the tears do fall.

They always catch up with me.

They always come.

Because I love you and don’t want to see you in pain.

Because I want to protect you, and coddle you, at all costs. Even though I know that I can’t. Even though I know keeping you safe and sheltered would be harmful. Even though I know that tears are necessary.

Sometimes you have to fall before you can walk.

So as you glare at me through those watery eyes, please know that even though you think I’m the enemy, I’m your biggest supporter. I’m your biggest cheerleader. And I’m your biggest fan.

I love you when there is a smile on your face, and when there are tears in your eyes.

I love you when you are playing and laughing, and when you are face down on the floor.

I love you when you run toward me for a hug, and when you run away from my kisses.

And I will love you through the muffled curses and closed doors.

I will love you even when you tell me to go away. Even when you say “I hate you.”

Because you are my daughter: my love and my life and my baby girl. And I never want to hurt you.

My God, I never plan to hurt you but I know I will because parenting is hard, and I will mess up. (Your mama is FAR from perfect.) But I don’t aspire to be perfect. I don’t aspire to be great, and I don’t even aspire to be good. I just aspire to be enough: enough for myself. Enough for you, my dearest daughter. And enough in each and every moment. Because I love you.

With each and every ounce of my being I love you.

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