Dear Shalini – An Open Letter To My Daughter
I’m writing this to you on your 13th birthday. I can’t believe that my baby girl has become a teenager. I can’t get over the fact that so many years have flown by in the blink of an eye. You tower over me now. You’re at least two inches taller than me and still growing!I’ve never written a letter like this before so my words and emotions might come out all jumbled up. But I still want to put my thoughts down on paper.Shalini, you are my first-born. You’re the person who came into my life and added new meaning to it. Before you, I was a daughter, a sister, a wife. You made me a mother. That is the most satisfying and the most beautiful feeling in the world.The day I found out I was pregnant, I was over the moon. We had wanted to have a baby for a while and I found every month a struggle when I would discover I wasn’t pregnant. But then you came into my life.It was such a lovely pregnancy. I hardly had any aches and pains although I had a lot of nausea for the first three months. As soon as those first twelve weeks passed and I went for my first scan, the nausea went away. I remember the scan so vividly. I held your picture in my hands and couldn’t believe I was going to be a mother.I had never really been a maternal person. I love children and there had been lots of children in my extended family I would spend time with. But it was always nice to be able to give them back to their parents at the end of the day.I questioned myself a lot during my pregnancy. Would I make a good mother? Would I be able to love unconditionally? How would I feel when I finally held you in my arms, knowing I was responsible for another life?I loved every moment of my pregnancy. Even though it got quite hot and uncomfortable at night during the summer months, I still enjoyed knowing you were growing inside of me. It was your uncle’s wedding that summer and I was around five months pregnant.I just remember being excited. I didn’t care how I was going to look at the wedding, whether my outfits would look nice or my face would look plump. None of that mattered and I just enjoyed the experience of pregnancy.The day they told me you were a girl, I went through a lot of emotions. I know my family had really wanted a boy. I have spoken to you about this several times but I feel I need to tell you once again.After four daughters and two granddaughters already, I know my parents had finally wanted a boy in the family. But I put all of that aside because they told me everything was going as well as expected. That was enough for me and that day, I named you.I actually got your name from a 90s Bollywood film. The main character was called Shalini and I had loved that name ever since. I looked it up and when I discovered it meant ‘modesty’ in Hindi, and a girl who is sweet, sensitive and charming.It just so happened that when your Daddy and I got together, we discussed baby names and I told him what my favourite name was for a girl. Call it co-incidence or call it fate, but Sukh had also liked the name when he had watched the film.I loved it when you would kick me and when my stomach would flutter. Towards the end you were such an active baby. It was like you were doing somersaults and my stomach would visibly make all sorts of shapes.It was a difficult birth and didn’t quite go to plan but I will spare you the details. You already know you were born after an emergency c-section. I have also told you this next bit a hundred times, but I want to tell you again.I remember you screaming your little lungs out for ages but as soon as they brought you around the curtain and placed your face next to mine, you stopped screaming. It was like you knew me. You knew my smell and you could feel my presence.My eyes were full of tears and I remember saying to your Daddy ‘I don’t care what anyone says. She is our baby girl and she means everything’. He nodded. He was emotional and had been crying tears of his own.As soon as the midwife began to take you away you started crying again. Your Daddy went with you and it seemed like years before I was with you again. Your Daddy told me that you’d spent the last 20 minutes constantly screaming.The nurse asked me if I wanted skin-to-skin contact and of course, I said yes. This was something I really wanted to do. It’s supposed to help the bond between mother and baby and I really wanted to feel you with me again.As soon as you were placed on my chest, you stopped crying instantly and within seconds you were asleep. It was magical. Your Daddy told me no one had been able to comfort you while we were apart. No bond can be greater than that.Shalini, I think I have told you this a few times before but when you were born I really missed you. That might sound really strange because I was holding you in my arms. But for a few weeks I really missed you being inside of me, kicking me and growing in my tummy.I remember telling your Daddy that I was aching because I missed you so much. I had carried you inside my body for nine months and my job there was done. You were a living, breathing person now but I longed to rewind back to my pregnancy because then you were just mine. Only I could feel you and we were one. Now I had to share you with everyone.You grew into such a sweet and sensitive girl, well-mannered and polite. During your toddler years, you were a bit of a tough cookie and would bully your little cousins but thankfully you grew out of that phase quickly.You’re my best friend and we’ve always been close. You were an easy child to bring up and I’ve enjoyed every second. I want to take this moment to tell you – and to reassure you – that I love you more than life itself. You are my flesh and blood and I will always love you unconditionally. Nothing can or will ever change that.We have such a great time together most of the time. Of course we have our ups and downs and our arguments. And there are those times when I have to put our friendship to one side and be your mother. But I discuss everything with you and we share so many things with each other.Even though you’re growing so fast and look older than you are and crave more independence, I still want to protect you. I want to wrap you up in cotton wool and shelter you from the big bad world.I can’t believe you’re thirteen. You’re changing every day – and it’s way too fast for my liking.I hope you have a beautiful birthday and a wonderful year ahead. It doesn’t matter how old you get and how much I have to adapt, you will always be my baby girl. And you will always be my best friend.
Love Mummy x
I also wrote a poem to my son on his birthday. Enjoy x
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