On the eve of your tenth birthday I have so much I wish to say to you. I remember looking into your adorable face on the day you were born, here I was just a naïve twenty four year old who was unsure of everything, but as I held you I could feel certain broken parts in me heal. I knew then that even though I had lost my mother at such a young age and had never experienced the bond of mother and child, somehow things would have to be better for you. I have so many things I need to apologize for, the first being the fact that I allowed myself to stay with an abusive person for as long as I did. I am asking you now to not ever grow up and feel the need to be with anyone out of fear or loneliness or any benefit that isn’t purely based in companionship and love. I am telling now that I am not raising you to be someone’s mother or someone’s wife or to be anything that anyone else defines. My daughter you’re free to be yourself, know that your body as well as your mind, your dreams, your hopes and aspirations belong to only you and that you have a right to change your mind. So I am sorry that out of my inability to defy the status quo I chose to be with a man when I am not even heterosexual, my dear daughter I need you to understand that it is so complicated when you’re undocumented and young and alone in a completely foreign place. I did it all for survival and I will always be willing to tell you the truth. By now raising you as a single mother, I chose to give you safety while reclaiming my own truth. Whatever relationship you choose to one day have with your father, I need you to know that while you’re growing up, being around him would be unhealthy for you. I don’t ever intend to have you around abusive people and he is not an exclusion.
So much has happened in these ten years since your birth, I know in telling my story I have told some of yours as well and all the women in our family that have come before you but my child your full story is yet to be told. May you always have the courage to stand in your beliefs and restate your aspirations of one day wanting to be a neurosurgeon no matter how much your peers question it or how much adults compliment you on your beauty and suggest that you should be some supermodel. I know I started reading books to you early and have always stated the importance of a good education but you always surpass every academic bar that anybody ever sets but know that you are allowed to make mistakes and that you will make some. I don’t want you to think that you always have to be perfect, leave a little room for imperfection, sometimes it is the only way to learn and grow. Unlike me you will not ever be detained and taken away from everything you have worked for, for an entire thirty days for not being born here or being undocumented, you will not ever have to spend years fighting to stay in a place you have lived in all your adult life. In our home you will not ever be told that your gender or skin color is a limitation but the truth is everywhere you go in this world you will experience these things. Just your native name alone means you may not get called back for interviews one day when you’re older, but know that your name holds deep meaning, your gender alone means you one day may not make as much money working the same job as a man but know that you come from a line of hardworking women who defied the odds, your skin color alone means one day you may face discrimination without just cause but know that your skin color tells the story of your lineage which is everything from African to Irish to Native American. Your job will be to never let any of those prejudices in society stop you, may you acknowledge privilege when you have it and reach down to help those who don’t, may you be strong and courageous but always with compassion. I hope you know that I speak and I write and call myself an Activist and a Feminist because I want a more equal world for you.
I want you to know that I go out of my way to make sure that you are surrounded by people from all backgrounds, diverse nationalities, gender identities and sexual orientations because I don’t want you to grow up blinded by ignorance, I don’t want you to ever think anyone is more deserving in this world than another. I want you to know that on any day I do all I can for you and your brother, that my love for you is bigger than my heart can contain and that I couldn’t be more proud of the person you are and that yes at only ten you have already read more books and crafted better power-points than I ever have. I wish for nothing but to always support all your endeavors, always cheering you on. May you grow up simply happy and know that you are loved beyond measure.