To my strong-willed daughter,

Before you were born, I pictured having a daughter. I pictured it being sweet and tender, sharing the same humor. I pictured being the one to make you laugh the most, wearing matching outfits, and braiding your hair.

I was right about all of these things but in a different way. You are sweet, and I make you laugh, but your daddy has your full attention when it comes to being silly. My time with you as a baby was full of moments staring into your little eyes wondering what the two of us would be like together.

As you got bigger, our relationship became trying.

It was me you’d throw a fit for, it was me you wouldn’t sleep for, it was me who could say the wrong thing and alter your entire day. It was my words that seemed to upset you the quickest. I became confused. In my lowest moments, I became resentful. I had a hard time remembering you were only little, you were just figuring this life out.

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People would tell me, “She feels the safest with you, that’s why she expresses herself this way.” And I held onto that night after night of seeming like I was your biggest enemy that day, after trying for hours to reach you better.

Here is what I know nowour relationship is special, we have gone through the fire.

Before you, I thought I was confident, I thought I was a leader, and I thought I had the guts to know what I needed, but when you were born into my life, your very presence called the best out of me. You forced me to become a better version of myself every day.

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You were wild enough I needed to learn fast how to be confident in my leading and parenting. You were sensitive enough I needed to check my intentions, my tone, and my heart toward you every day and learn how to let go faster. You were hard enough I needed to fine-tune my communication skills and learn how to speak purposefully and intentionally.

Because of you, I know confidence in a different way.

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I learned how to lead a very strong-willed child, which helped me lead in my life and my work outside our home. In knowing my limits, in knowing your limits, I learned what I need and to be more vocal about it.

I look at our relationship with gratitude because, without you, I wouldn’t have had to become this version of methe one with you.

I see so much of myself in you, and that’s why we butt heads. But I am safety to you, I am the most familiar place you have. I am where you can be your truest self, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thank you, daughter, for being the fire that lights me, and the wind, AND my sails. You push me forward and fill me with direction. My relationship with you, in our challenging seasons, has been the greatest gift, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Traci Hoy

Traci is a working mother of two who balances a job as an RMT with the realness of motherhood and marriage.