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To my daughter, I hope I live to see you grow up and find your own way in life, but after losing my own father last year without any warning, I realize I might not get to. So, if a day comes that I’m not here to tell you in person, there are some things I want to make sure you know.

Being your mama is the greatest honor of my life. I’ve had a good and fulfilling life, I’ve done things that brought me great joy, I’ve loved deeply and been loved in return, but nothing compares to being your mama. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

No matter who you become or who you love or how you vote, I love you and I like you, and I want nothing more than to have you share your thoughts and feelings and hopes for the future with me.

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You can always change your mind. If you wake up one day and realize you aren’t living the life you would like to be, go ahead and change it. It isn’t too late. I support you.

You are enough.

You don’t have to spend your life proving your worth. You don’t have to achieve greatness, you don’t have to make lots of money, you don’t have to weigh a certain amount or look a certain way to be worthy of love. I love you and Jesus loves you and hopefully, you love yourself. You don’t have anything to prove.

I’m proud of you. Even if I’m not here to say it, I’m proud of you. There won’t ever be a day I don’t want to tell the world that you’re my baby. It doesn’t matter if you are walking dogs or teaching children or working on cars, I’m proud of you. This also extends to the days when you fall shortbecause you willthat is part of being human. There’s nothing you can do that will change the way I feel about you.

You can always come home. No matter where you go in the world or how long you are gone, you can always return to the place you grew up. There’s no shame in it, so don’t let the world fool you into believing there is. It is brave to leave, but there’s bravery in returning too.

You will fail and that’s OK.

I don’t know yet who you hope to become or what you dream of accomplishing, but I do know that no matter what the answers are, you won’t always succeed. There will be disappointments, but they shouldn’t change how you feel about yourself or how you feel about the thing you love. If your dream is to play a professional sport, but you don’t have the talent for it, please don’t let that stop you from being the biggest supporter in the stands.

Don’t be afraid of love. You will have your heart broken someday, and as much as I would like to protect you from that pain, I know I can’t. I hope, despite my assurance that your heart will someday hurt as a result, that you both give and accept love. This applies to all the different types of love in the world. It will make your life richer, and it is worth the risk. Remember too, that you may someday cause someone who loves you pain, so always be gentle.

RELATED: Dear Daughter: Don’t Be Fooled By What the World Says is Love

And while we are on the subject of love, in case you have any doubt at all, I love you. When you feel alone, when your heart is full of grief, when the world has forsaken you, I want you to know my love lives inside you, and no one can ever take that from you. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with you to my very last breath on this earth to whatever comes after, I love you so much. My wish for you is that you never, ever forget that.

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Chelsey McCarthy

Chelsey is the mama of one sweet baby girl and one grumpy bulldog. By day she is the Executive Director of a rare disease foundation. She is overly sentimental and an aspiring writer. 

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