My brave & bold daughter is spending her sophomore year living and going to high school in Goslar, Germany. This letter is a love note to her (using her nickname, Joe).
Ah, my wonderful girl,
I have tried not to send too many "I miss you" notes (or chats!) to you. You know I miss you, and we know we will see each other in June, for an intense 14 days straight, and get all caught up (and then, we will need another break!). So this note is not about the many ways I miss you, but instead, about the many ways I love you and keep you in my heart when you are far away.
Joe, I love your inquisitiveness. You never lead with opinion, but with wondering. When we have discussions about what's happened at school, you're able to hold multiple points of view (even the teacher's) without judgment, in order to understand a complex situation (one that often involves unchecked, race-based bias). And even when you see bias, you probe to get at the heart of the challenge, so that if hearts and minds need to be changed, you're digging down deeply into issues rather than skating the surface. (I think you choose your school activities -- writing for the paper, being in the Student Group on Race Relations, and sitting on the Student Advisory Group -- because they mesh with your talent of asking questions and listening carefully to responses.)
Your friends seem to know they can count on you to use this skill to support them (and love them, in fact). The way you help A. untangle fickle high school friendship and discover how to be friendly to all, but careful with her deep friendships. The way you've been able to maintain far-away friendship with Chicago friends and camp friends, because when you connect with them, your authentic curiosity brings you back into their lives and the topics that matter most: their passions, their loves, their futures. I promise you, I don't read your texts and eavesdrop on calls, but I know you bring this strength to your friendships -- in the snippets of conversation that float to me, the sharing you do with me... and from the moms who tell me how much you love and care for their kids. (Yes -- the mom network is powerful!)
You share this gift with our family, too. Loads of making sure we consider our "whys" -- by asking questions, you've been a catalyst for ensuring our actions match with our values. Attending to and engaging with church. Deciding to attend the Women's March. Finding articles to read and discuss. And as you grow older, you need "us" -- Dad and me -- less and less as your spread your wings and ask your questions (and seek your answers) further from us. Tomorrow, I'll share how you're growing into independence -- and how proud that makes me.
xo xo Mom