A letter to my daughter: You are joy personified

Daughter and mom
Suni and I went on a special Mother's Day road trip with her grandma and brother in 2022. This is us at Sweet Potatoes Kitchen in Savannah, Georgia. | MICHELLE BRELAND

Having a daughter has been a treasure like no other. My sweet Suni is so much like me in some ways and so beautifully unlike me in others. I have to say the person she most often reminds me of is my late grandma Sue, who Suni was named in honor of. She is my wild one, and I love her.

Dear Suni,

You have been a joy to be around since the moment you were born. You lifted your little head above my shoulder to look around instinctively, and you have been amazing me ever since. Your independent spirit seems innate. You definitely have your own way of going about life, and I am so grateful for that. But remember that it’s okay to lean on the people who love you. You will know who they are because they will show you with their actions every day.

Listen to your instincts, that gut feeling in your stomach that tells you a person, a place or maybe just a moment in time isn’t right. I believe that is how God talks to us. He wants us to love and to feel at peace. At times, that will mean knowing when to walk away. At other times, that will mean knowing when to humble yourself and when to share how much you love and need a person.

There will be moments in life that shake your faith in humanity, but please don’t let those moments change who you are. You are kind and loving. Your smile lights up every room you enter.

You are fearless, joyfully taking on risk after risk even as a 2-year-old girl. Hold on to that. It will lead you beyond your wildest dream down the path God has for you.

I don’t know if you will love a man or a woman, but love someone who is kind, honest, driven and loves you back. Be willing to sacrifice for that person, but don’t give up everything. There will be time to be a wife and time to be a mother, but also take the proper time to explore yourself and learn who you are at every juncture of your life. Ask yourself what you desire, what you want now, and what you want forever. It is so important.

You are more than what you do and who you love. You are worthy just because you are breathing and you are a child of God. Remember that. No matter how dark times get, just keep taking deep breaths and reminding yourself that those breaths are what it means to be alive. Go outside and connect to the air when you need that reminder. Sit still until you feel calm. If you can’t remember to do anything else, remember to eat, remember to drink water, and remember to move your body outside.

You are so beautiful, and your voice is important. You will learn when to listen, but also don’t be afraid to speak the truth.

Author Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote in Women Who Run With the Wolves:

“This early training to ‘be nice’ causes women to override their intuitions. In that sense, they are actually purposefully taught to submit to their predator. Imagine a wolf mother teaching her young to ‘be nice’ in the face of an angry ferret or a wily diamondback rattler.”

I would never tell you to always be nice, but always be kind. Think of others, of how your words and actions may affect them. Sometimes the answer will be to do the thing anyway, and sometimes the damage you may cause won’t be worth it. You will know what to do, and even if you do the wrong thing, forgive yourself. Forgive those who hurt you, and don’t be too proud to talk to a licensed counselor. I want you to have everything God intended for you.

You are a natural-born leader. Embrace the courage of the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27. You can do anything if you put God first and remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.

I believe you will change the world, Suni.