Welcome to the world, Barbara Christine. Don’t worry, I don’t expect that you can read in your first few days (that can wait for week three or four, along with calculus). In fact, I hope your mom won’t let you get near this blog until you’re at least 14, but perhaps your young soul can absorb some of the fond thoughts being sent your way by all who love you and who love your parents. I’ve been giving your mom some space to recover electricity and sleep, so this is a clumsy attempt to put some of those loving sentiments into words.
This is anything but a perfect world you’ve been born into, but I know that you’ll be raised to see the best in it. And there is much to love, surrounded by two extended families who each understand the value of being there for one another. Your mom and dad are the product of generations of love and care that have been poured into children, and they are overflowing with that to put into you. You’ll have enough money and opportunity, you’ll have your basic needs met, but all of that pales in comparison to the bedrock environment you’ll have to establish your emotional security and stability.
You’ll be a toddler before anyone realizes what has happened. I imagine you’ll be a hellraiser by then already, if genetic history is any indicator. Do me a favor, and give your mother a hard time, okay? Call that sibling revenge, or Karma. Whatever. Just make her sweat a little. And look forward to visits from your uncle, who will spoil you and amuse you and talk to you about physics while we watch Baby Einstein. Run around terrorizing the animals and scaring adults with close calls and showing everyone that amazing personality in development.
I can’t wait until you’re in grade school and reach that age when your mind opens to learning of all sorts. There comes a day in the development of every child when suddenly he or she becomes a conversational companion. That moment is a joy to adults in your life, because you’ll be a captive audience to whom we can impart all of our wisdom. You’ll be a mini-me for all the grown-ups who can see elements of themselves in you. Comments about you will go from “she has her mother’s eyes” and “she has her dad’s eyelashes,” to “she has her mother’s sense of mischief” and “she has her dad’s kindness.” For the record, I hope all of those things come to pass. You’ll be beautiful, but we’ll be more taken with your sense of humor and your quick wit.
Then there will come a day when you are a teenager, and you’ll be as perfect and invulnerable as all teenagers are. A legend in your own mind. You’ll refuse to listen to anyone … presumably anyone but your two uncles, who will be so fantastically cool that you’ll actually come to us for advice. Am I unrealistic? It’s possible, but I hold out hope. I suspect that you’ll be a different sort of girl, because you will have the relationship with your parents that each of them have with their own: open, candid, supportive, humorous, loving. When things are difficult, you’ll have learned the solidity and flexibility of your father to fall back on, and the creativity and tenacity of your mother. You will embark on adult life having absorbed the best qualities that people can have, because that is where you come from.
Eventually, parents cannot protect their children any longer and they must shove them out of the nest. Far from being sorry about that, I look forward to that for you. I would wish you luck, but I believe that luck favors the prepared, so I wish you good fortune. I hope that at least some of your plans work the way you intend, which is the most that anyone can ask. I hope you are taken early in your life with a great passion to which to dedicate yourself, but if you are not, I hope you experience a broad variety of things and take bits and pieces of life from each area in which you dabble, and that all of those experiences round you and prepare you for when you do decide what your corner of the world will be.
I hope your eyes and your mind are open to learning the great things in life by watching other people, but I hope you never settle for that. I hope you have the great good fortune to experience them yourself. I also hope that you are able to learn from seeing others suffer the consequences of momentary lapses, the things poorly thought out. I hope you can avoid personal experience with The Big Mistakes, because I don’t want my niece to have significant hurt or hardship. If those things happen, you will have amazing resources to fall back on.
That said, I do hope you make plenty of small mistakes, of the sort that give rise to humility and the ability to laugh at yourself. It is impossible to endear oneself to people or lead them without the ability to see the ludicrous nature of what we daily endure. I hope you encounter sufficient challenges that you realize that you are no different from countless other talented, motivated people who must hurdle the challenges life will put in your way. You’re special, but not above struggle. You’re capable of success, but only by appreciating your talents and drawing heavily on hard work.
Above all, I wish you happiness. Never stop striving for things better, but always remember to appreciate everything around you and what you have accomplished. May you revel in the small wonders that life presents every day. May you find your talents and pursue them with single-minded determination. May you stay away from the traps that the wrong people will put before you. May you be, in a word, everything bit as great as your beginnings suggest you can be. May you be the person everyone hopes you will be, and somthing approaching the person that your dog already thinks you are.
I haven’t met you yet, little Barbara Christine, but it won’t be long. I already know what I’ll see when I look into your eyes: a young continuation of a vivid, devoted family tradition. We’re all going to be there for you and take joy in watching you grow, and eventually seeing you become the woman that you can be.
Grow up well, please, but not too quickly.