I thought I knew who I was, but then I had you.

I did not appreciate my talents, my beauty, or my brainthat is until I had you.

I did not realize I was important or completely whole, just as I am, until I had you.

You see, being the mother of a little girl is hard work, but it is the most glorious, heartwarming, and raw thing a mom could ever do. This is not to ignore my bond with your brother–that has a dirt-covered greatness all its own.

Having a daughter, though, is just something special, something different, and something new.

It is something I never knew I needed until I looked you in the eyes and held you for the first time. The first time you cried, I held you and you stopped, instantly. You looked up with your big blue eyes, and all I could see was a reflection of myself.

RELATED: I Wasn’t Sure How To Love a Daughter

Parenting a daughter is a sort of self-reflection you would never really dream to put yourself through willingly. It is like seeing yourself in a mirror for the first time. No confrontation, or parenting moment, or tickle fight with your brother could ever teach me the things about myself that you taught me in an instant.

I used to critique my natural hair, the dimple on my chin, the way I overthink, or that little happy dance I can’t help but do every time I am elated about something.

Now, when I see you do that same dance, or walk around with the same eyes, the little dimple in your chin, and cheekbones that are an exact replica of my own, I smile instead and don’t give it a second thought. You are perfect–perfect just the way you are, with every little bit of uniqueness, every curl of your Daddy’s hair, and every single piece of me, too.

You are absolutely perfect, even when you make “that face” (you know exactly the one I’m talking about)the one with squinty eyes and one eyebrow raised. You know practicing that look that will get you all of the places you want to go. Your perfect self will take you as far as you are willing to dream, so long as you believe you deserve it.

RELATED: Having a Daughter is So Much More Than I Thought it Would Be

Yes, you are equally just as much your daddy as you are me. The difference is, I grew up not understanding how perfectly whole and unique I am, nor did I know what I brought to the table. I was always forcing a seat for myself at tables that didn’t serve me, instead of getting up and creating a new one that accepted me for who I am. As far back as I can remember, I had a critical mind and low self-esteem, and that continued, albeit sporadically, until the day I met you.

Two days short of 29 years, I put an end to not feeling fully at peace in my own skinthe moment I met you.

That moment, I realized the importance of perspective and that every time someone told me they loved one of my flaws, they were being honest, and they were able to see my real beauty beneath the layers of insecurities. It reminded me that every time your daddy told me I was beautiful or every time he complimented something I was insecure about, that he truly did not see any flaw in any of the things I saw in myself, nor does he in you.

Had I been able to see my own beauty the way I see it in you back then, I would have spent my 29 years a much happier, stronger, confident version of myself, instead of falling prey to people-pleasing or self-doubt.

I tell you this, my perfect girl, because you are worthy, whole, and beautifulinside and out.

I tell you this to encourage you to push those fears and doubts down when they creep up, and they will. When you are on the verge of greatness and you feel a pit in your stomach, I need you to think of me and to remind yourself how strong and capable you. No matter how big those voices of doubt grow when you have a big dream or a crazy idea, I pray you will stuff them down and you will lean into yourself.

RELATED: Dear Daughter, Don’t Let the World Break You

I pray that you will always see the good in people and that I can teach you everything I learned in those anxiety-ridden 29 years, so that one day when I am no longer here to reach out to for advice or remind you how beautiful, funny, intelligent, and wonderful you are, you can remind yourself. You were born whole, worthy, and unafraid of the world–never lose that sense of hope and unshakable confidence.

Oh, and one more thing, if anyone ever criticizes you for being too much when you give them “that look,” know they do not deserve any ounce of you, not even for a moment. Then, you better pick yourself back up and fix that crown because you are capable of anything in this world, and you deserve to be loved, especially by yourself.

Thank you, my girl, for loving meflaws and all. And for teaching me to love myself just as much as you do.

With all my heart,

Meghan Cruse

My name is Meghan Cruse, and I am a creative at heart. By trade, I am a real estate agent, an entrepreneur, a full-time student, a wife, and a mom of two. No matter how busy our schedule gets, I never stop writing, and I hope to share my stories and perspective with you!