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Sweet Adeline,

You’re almost a year and a half old and I can’t believe how grown up you are.  You’re so much fun to be around (except when you’re cranky!). I love how unique you are – you are your own person, through and through.

You go straight for the cars and the dinosaurs at the toy store and despite a pile of stuffed animals at home you show no interest in soft or cuddly things. You love to play with older kids, and you think that you can do whatever they can. The fact that this sometimes leads to falls and bruises has no effect on you. When I try to explain that a certain piece of playground equipment might be too big for you, you try to use it anyway. There is no mountain you can’t climb, little girl.

You are the most determined little person I’ve ever met. You hate when you can’t do something for yourself and you try and try and try until you get it. When I offer to help you, you push me away and say “No!” When you eventually realize that you need help, it breaks your little heart to ask for it. I see echoes of myself in you, and I want to teach you that asking for help is okay. I want you to know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. But I know from a lifetime of experience that you may have to struggle to that truth in your own time.

I watch you play and I wonder what your passion will be in this life of yours. Will you be an athlete? I wouldn’t be surprised, you’re always on the move.  Will you love music? You already clap in time when we listen to music. Will you fall for science, the way I did when I was a child? Or maybe something mechanical – the look of concentration and involvement on your face when you take something apart and put it back together is a beautiful thing to see. Whatever your passion is, I want you to follow it. Don’t worry about what I think, what your father thinks, what your teacher thinks. Don’t worry about money or status or material things. Do what you love and everything else will fall into place. And if you’re lost, one day, don’t be afraid to start again. It’s never too late.

I want you to know how much I love you. Sometimes when you give me a kiss it makes me feel that all my being is bunched up in my chest, just waiting to flow out of me and cover you in love and protection and happiness. I simply have to give you a hug, to rest my cheek against your soft hair, to breathe in the smell of you. I feel lighter when I hold you that way, as though all the burdens and hurts of life are, just for a moment, carried away, replaced by the pure joy of holding my daughter.

My daughter! When I look at you — putting together a puzzle, climbing on the table, smiling that giant, sparkling smile of yours — it’s the closest thing to a miracle that I’ve ever experienced. That your father and I made you is sometimes beyond my comprehension. You are a person — such a person! — how can it be that only two years ago you were growing inside of me? You lived in me, from me, through me. We were one. And now we’re apart. Two people where only one was before. To spend any time thinking about it, the sheer amazing incomprehensibility of it, is enough to make me cry.

I want you to know, my darling girl, that I will always be here for you. I will let you go; I have already begun to let you go. I will encourage you to be independent, to follow your curiosity where it leads you, even if that is far away from me. If ever you think that I don’t care, that I’m not interested, know that it is only because I don’t want to burden you. But I will be here. My heart will long for you always, even if I keep that longing deep inside, in a safe and cozy place where it won’t bother anyone. The moment you need me, I will do everything I can for you. Just ask and I will be there.  I love you more than I ever knew was possible. My Adeline. My darling. My beloved daughter.

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