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To My Daughter on Her 1st Birthday

Dear Stella,

We had your first-year birthday party today, my darling girl. We had a Beyoncé-themed party, because the way you shake your diaper to any one of her songs made me think it was the only right thing to do. It’s hard to believe that you, my tiny little precious baby boo, are already 1. You are walking and babbling and have a bubbly, bright personality all your own.

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A year ago you were fresh out of mama’s womb. You came onto the scene with big, bright, knowing eyes and a full head of wavy hair that fell into a natural pixie cut. I called you my little Liza Minnelli. I’ll never forget that early morning the day after you were born. You studied my face with a slightly furrowed brow while I sang you “Cabaret." We stared at each other and bonded, just you and me, while your daddy snored like a water buffalo with a deviated septum in the recliner to the left of us. It hardly seems like enough time has gone by to justify my reminiscing, but you’ve changed so much. A year is a long time filled with decades of progress when you are a baby.

As I was scrubbing the hot pink fondant off your high chair, and the floor underneath your high chair, and off the wall behind your high chair, I thought two things: 1) Man, giving into that whole smash cake thing was really dumb, in retrospect. I mean, a separately decorated cake for a baby who ate like 2 1/2 handfuls and then got diarrhea was so not necessary; and 2) Wow, a year has flown by, and you are already doing and learning so much. I need to write you a letter, because there are some things I want you to know today on your first birthday, and never forget.

And I hope that later on in life, whether you are 12 or 43 or even 87, you can read this letter and feel my heart.

You are special and unique, from the top of your head to the tip of your little toe. There is no one like you. And there never will be. You add a light and sparkle to this world that no one else can reproduce. And it can never be snuffed out. It is too powerful and bright.

If you can go through life with gratitude, humility and positivity, you will see miracles every day.

Never, ever stop dancing. Today, you lit it up with non-stop bouncing to “Crazy in Love.” You have the joy of life in your being. Never stop that music in your head. Never stop poppin’ to that soundtrack of life. Always channel your inner Beyonce. Live life to its fullest. See and experience things. Life is beautiful. Really live it and love it.

Love without regret. It really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Everyone is in your life for a reason. Every relationship has a purpose. Appreciate those who grow with you as well as those who choose not to keep up or have fallen away. Everyone in your life is there as a teacher or a mirror of you. Love hard. And don’t look back.

Understand the importance of letting go. Sometimes things that once had a purpose in your life will no longer have that purpose. Don’t be afraid to let those things, emotions or people go. Only hold on to the things that serve your greatest good. You are enough.

Help others. Lift them up. You are on this earth to do great things through gestures big and small. Take the time to help those in need. Give what you can. Have compassion, and foster it in others. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Lead by example. And have faith in humanity. Good always wins.

Always see the blessing and the lesson in things. Be grateful every day of your life. Have gratitude when things go your way and even when they don’t. There is an opportunity to grow and learn from everything that is in your path. If you can go through life with gratitude, humility and positivity, you will see miracles every day.

Never give up. You can do and be anything you want. Believe in your greatness. Have faith. When you fall, get right back up.

Know that you are loved, my sweet princess. Your grandparents look on at you in awe. They hold you in their arms, beaming with love as they marvel at the wonder that you are. Your aunties and uncles and cousins love you, dearly. Your brother kisses you incessantly. All he wants to do is protect you. He would do anything for you. You are the gleam in your father’s eye. He loves you more than words can express. We would all do anything for you.

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My love for you cannot be measured. Every time I see you, every time I hear your voice, I feel more alive, more in love and more inspired to be a better, kinder person, more moved to show my gratitude for this blessing to be able to love you and your brother in this life. I would walk the Earth for you. Just to know you, my sweet angel, my life is complete.

And now I’m sobbing. And you are looking at me confused, frosting still in your hair as you hold your sippy cup, drooling a little. Forget what I said about the smash cake and the hot pink fondant. It wasn’t dumb. You were worth it all. You are worth it all.

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