Earlier this week, Sophia Jade Weston turned five years old. I must confess to you that I was not in the best of places when my daughter was born. I was in the midst of what I now understand was a deep depressive episode. I was starting a new job in a part of the country in which I did not want to stay. I was eight months removed from walking away from an abusive ministry situation. I didn’t feel ready for a second kid. I barely felt like I could take care of myself. I worried that I might not be able to get over myself enough to have the same love for my daughter that I did for her older brother. It’s funny what time does.
Over these last five years, I have watched Sophia grow into a pretty incredible kid. She’s smart. She could totally be booksmart, but I worry that she’s more the clever, scheming type. She’s creative. She loves to sing and dance. She’s competitive. She’s not doing dance next year because she wants to do tae kwon do like her brother. I’ve seen her eyeing his sparring trophy since the day he won it. She wants one! She’s strong willed. She has no problem saying what it is that she wants. She’s also very sweet. She can be incredibly kind and generous. I’ve seen her be thoughtful in ways that surprise me, especially when her brother is involved. She’s cuddly. I’m always surprised when she breaks off from playing with other kids to come sit on my lap. Not because she wants anything, just because she wants to be close to me.
Over the last five years I have gone from wondering how I would live with this kid to being unable to imagine my life without her. I am deeply in love. She has me wrapped around her finger and I think she knows it. She means the world to me…
…and it is because of that, because of how much I love her and value her, that I am deeply sorry:
Sophia, one day you will read this… if blogs are still a thing in the future… and I want you to know that I’m sorry. There are so many things for which I can be sorry. Sorry that I screwed things up with your mom. Sorry that I moved far away. Sorry for events of yours that I missed. Sorry for the sick days when I didn’t get to sit with you or the nights when I couldn’t comfort you after your bad dreams. I am sorry that you got my bad eyes, even though you look amazing in glasses. I am sorry for all of those things. But I’m also sorry that you’ll grow up in a world where 1 in 3 girls has been sexually assaulted. I’m sorry that you’re growing up in a world where of more than half of that number are assaulted by someone close to them, a family member or intimate partner. I’m sorry that the color of your skin makes you even more vulnerable to violence. I’m sorry that you’re growing up in a world where men often feel entitled to women’s bodies, time, and resources. I’m sorry that you’re growing up in a world where women earn 73 cents to each dollar a man makes. I’m sorry that your strong-will may be dismissed as bitchiness. I’m sorry that your gentleness may be interpreted as weakness. I’m sorry that you’ll have to be extraordinary to be taken half as seriously as mediocre men, though I have no doubts of your ability to be extraordinary. I’m sorry that you live in a world where people will be more likely to listen to your brother even in cases when you have more expertise. I’m sorry that this world was designed to keep you docile and subservient.
My desire for you is that you change the world, and I have no doubt that you will. It’s my desire that you’d be so confident in yourself that you will be what you know yourself to be, not what the world tells you to be. It’s my desire that you will be as strong or soft as you choose to be, as creative or as practical as you choose to be, as wild or as tame as you choose to be.
I know in part what kind of woman that you will be because I know your mother. I know the kind of influence that I wanted you to have in your life and I know that Shannon will push you to be your best self as she does me. I know that your brother loves you and will teach you as much as he can, even when you don’t want to hear it. I know that you have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that love you tremendously and that you will be molded by that love. I know that you’ll have teachers, make friends, and adopt mentors, all of whom will pour something of themselves into you.
But, ultimately, it is your world. I know you’ll face obstacles. I know you’ll be tested. I know you’ll be challenged. And you know what? I know you’ll fail. You may fail a lot. I certainly have. But I trust that you’re the kind of person who will learn from their failures. I trust that you’ll get up every time you’re knocked down. I trust that you’ll adapt and adjust. I trust that you’ll find your voice and sing your heart out. I’m guessing your image of success may not look like mine. I’m okay with that, as long as you’re happy and remain the good person I see when I look into your eyes. I believe that you’ll grow into your name – “Sophia: Wisdom”.
And I’ll be here with you. I’ll lead and teach you as best I can. Then I’ll stand beside you whenever you want me to do so. And when it’s time, I’ll step behind and watch you take on the world. But know that I’m here. Whenever you need me. Or whenever you just want to break away from the group to be where I am.
I’ll be here.