Dear Daughter,

You’re starting kindergarten. And the beginning of your school journey means that we’ve got 13 years left together under the same roof. It’s true, the thought of you leaving me makes me ache at times, but oh so hopeful, too.

Kindergarten may feel like a big jump, for both you and me. But I know you’re ready. I mean, let’s be honest, you were born ready.

Right now, your confidence is something to envy. I think that’s why God gave me you—to make me better. You do what women have been trying to do for decades—be unapologetically you.

You listen to the voice within yourself and follow that. You don’t care what you look like or what you wear. You’re brave. You look fear in its nasty eyes and then scoff at it. You try new things, talk to new people, and live every minute of your life daringly. I pray that you continue to do all of this and more.

Because, if I’m being honest, something happens to little girls once they start school. Sometimes society wants them to be quiet, act like a lady, and be meek. But one prayer I have for you as you embark on your school years is that you continue to listen to that loud voice within you.

But it’s going to be harder the older you get. The outside world will get louder. You’ll feel the pressure to act a certain way, look a certain way, and follow the loudest, the prettiest, the coolest. So, I pray that you are at the front of your own one-person line. I pray you have the strength that you have today to only look within yourself for the answer—never behind you and never ahead of you.

You can grow into an honorable woman by trusting yourself and not sitting quietly. You can serve God by acting courageously, even loudly. You don’t have to sit back and let the boys answer all the questions the teachers ask.

Raise that hand of yours. Answer the questions. You might be wrong at times—but never stop raising your hand.

Accept faults and failing because it’s just part of the game. Just know that the real test will come when it’s time for you to get back up. When you take a bite out of humble pie, but then shoot your hand back in the air after being wrong. When you study harder for the next test. When you try out for the team despite knowing that you just might ride the bench instead of being a leading scorer.

Most importantly, daughter, I hope you continue to let compassion burn within you so brightly that everyone can see it, feel it. I pray that when you see a child on their own island of desolation in the cafeteria, that you not only sit with them—but that you bring others with you. I pray that you are a fierce includer and that you call out the excluders in a loving way that changes their hearts, too.

Yes, my dreams for you as you embark on your school journey, go beyond the classroom. Because it’s in the building of relationships where your heart will continue to grow, and hopefully encourage the hearts of others to grow, too.

Daughter, I have so many dreams for you as you kick off your big kid years.

Kindergarten is just the beginning. But if you continue to live your life as you’ve done your first five years here on this beautifully broken earth, you’ll be just fine. I know they won’t be easy, but I will cherish these next 13 years together with you. Because I know that they won’t last forever. And I trust that God gave you the heart to change the world around you—all you have to do is continue to be the one and only you.

Love always,

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Angela Anagnost-Repke

Angela-Anagnost Repke is a writer and writing instructor dedicated to raising two empathetic children. She hopes that her graduate degrees in English and counseling help her do just that. Since the pandemic, Angela and her family have been rejuvenated by nature and moved to northern Michigan to allow the waves of Lake Michigan to calm their spirits. She has been published in Good Housekeeping, Good Morning America, ABC News, Parents, Romper, and many more. She is currently at-work on her nonfiction parenting book, Wild Things by Nature: How an Unscientific Parent Can Give Nature to Their Wild Things. Follow Angela on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram