I like to joke about wanting Eloise to be a dancer, or a software engineer, but the truth is I don’t care what career path my little girl takes. What’s most important to me is the type of person she grows up to be. I have a lot of dreams for her – and I hope that I will be a good enough mother to help her become the kind of person who people will love and admire.
So here’s my advice to my baby girl, on what I’ve learned so far is the path to happiness, peace of heart, and love.
Be kind. To everyone, even people you don’t like. Be kind to animals, be kind to your elders, be kind to people you see being picked on.
Be patient. You already show signs of my impatience, so this will be hard for you. Slow down, take deep breathes, control your irritability. I promise you if you can master this, it will serve you well throughout your whole life, and you will regret your behaviour far less than I do. Good luck with this though, as you’re already a little spit-fire.
Know the consequences of your actions. You’re only one person, but everything you will do through your life will have reaching consequences, even if you can’t see them. A flippant comment to someone you don’t know might ruin their entire day.
Be empathetic towards strangers and people who do you wrong. This is something that I’ve also struggled with a lot – not empathy towards friends and family, which is easy, but trying to keep my temper in check with people who aren’t in my immediate circle is really hard for me – and for you too, if you inherit this trait from me. Someone who is unkind to you might be having the worst day of their lives, you just don’t know it. When someone is a complete A-hole and steals your seat from you on the subway when you’re pregnant, imagine their hardships before assuming the worst. Try your hardest, anyway, and then tell them to give you the goddam seat.
Value all life. If you choose to eat meat, know that an animal gave its life for it and think about that before you dig in.
Stand up for yourself and what you know to be right. Note: this will not make you popular. But it will make you someone who is true to themselves, and not a sheeple. Please don’t be a sheeple, both your dad and I can’t stand them. Learning to act for yourself, especially when it’s against what everyone else is doing, is so hard when you’re a teenager, and even in your early 20s. People like people who are like them, and find comfort in it. If you’re different, it will start out hard, but will be ultimately rewarding as you find your true path in life. Standing out as a true individual will help you in ways you won’t be able to imagine when at the time all you can see is your friends at a party pressuring you to smoke something nasty. When you want to succeed in life, being an individual will help you step above the general masses to land jobs, be offered opportunities, and also help you to be truly happy with the person who you are.
Go with love. Love as hard as you can – your friends, your family, your animals, your hobbies, and, hopefully, a life partner and then children, if you decide to have them. Love every day you wake up to, love the details, just love, love, love. It’s the most fulfilling pleasure you will have in life.
Peace as I know it comes from acting kindly, patiently, empathetically and with love. When I do something like snap at friends, or take out my frustration on people who don’t deserve it, a few hours later I always feel bad. If it’s a particularly bad things I’ve said or done, I’ve felt bad for YEARS – in some instances I still feel bad whenever I think about it. Please learn from me. Make your own mistakes, don’t repeat my thoughtless ones.
Little girl, I love watching you grow, learn and attack the world with joy. I hope I can guide your footsteps while you’re learning to run, skip and hop, and watch with pride in your shadow as you take flight into your own, beautiful life.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.