Dear sweet girl —
There we were, walking down the hall to our apartment, your feet moving slower than usual, your hand tightly gripping my own.
Normally the journey to our front door after school involves you dancing and twirling so that your hands are in the air instead of wrapped up in mine. Normally you are chattering away, singing a silly song, happily laughing as your smile casts extra light into the fading day.
Yet there you were, quiet and close beside me, doing none of these things.
I tell myself you are tired, but I know better: because I can read between your lines—the ones that I’ve grown to know over the past six years—I know something else is going on.
I stop walking, and your stride stops, too. I kneel down in front of you, and when we’re face to face, our eyes meet, and I look at you, open and waiting.
Because I know that’s all it ever takes, that simple acknowledgement that I’m here, ready to listen, and, just like I expected, you finally speak.
“Can I tell you something, Mommy?” you ask.
Although we’ve yet to reach our front door—the one that’s only ten feet away—I don’t want this moment to pass. I gather you close and move to the edge of the hall. Our bags are at our feet, you’re sitting on my lap sideways as I lean against the wall, and your hand, still in mine, has yet to loosen its grip.
“Don’t just tell me something,” I say. “Tell me everything.”
And then, your tentative voice, thick with concern, tells me a story:
You tell me how a little boy was unkind to you today. How he made fun of you on the playground. How he told you your sweater was ‘ugly’ and how he said your headband was ‘stupid.’ How he pointed to your nose and said it was ‘too small.’ How he called you a ‘baby’ when he saw your eyes fill with tears.
I kiss the crown of your head as you share this story, my hand never once letting go of yours.
When you’re done, we sit there, quiet for a moment, before I finally speak.
“Thank you for telling me,” I say. “I’m sorry that happened.”
I hesitate briefly, but then I ask, “So what did you do?”
“I told him he was hurting my feelings. I told him he wasn’t being nice. And then…well, then I told him to stop. That what he was doing wasn’t right,” you answer.
I feel the tightness in my chest loosen, and the weight of the worry my heart is holding all at once is replaced with the lightness of pride.
“That’s okay, right?” you ask.
“Is what okay?” I brush the hair back from your forehead and tuck it behind your ear.
“That I told him to stop? That it wasn’t right?”
“Yes, it’s okay,” I say, gently turning your face so I can look you in the eye again. “In fact, it’s more than okay.”
And inside, my heart cries out the words again:
Yes. Yes. YES.
Every day, I look around at the world we are living in, and to be honest, what I see scares me to death. What I see makes me wonder if the world will ever be nostalgic for this time. But oh, sweet girl, what I see in you gives me such hope.
Because every day, I am able to look past how this world is, and instead, I see you—a bold, brave, fearless little girl:
A girl who stands up. A girl who speaks out. A girl who stays true. A girl who is brave.
Yes. Yes. YES.
* * *
As I hold you, my thoughts drift to the way that I once was and the way that I still am sometimes today:
Yet here you sit, safe in my arms, offering me this beautiful, unspoken reminder of the way we need to always be, and suddenly, I’m acutely aware of the gravity of the responsibility I am tasked with on an everyday basis—as your mother, your friend, your confidant, your mentor.
You will always be here, looking up to me, at the way I am, modeling your behavior after my own.
So my wish for you, sweet girl, is that you’re always as brave as you were today:
Brave enough to stand up for what you believe in.
Brave enough to say yes to the things that feel right.
Brave enough to say no to the things that feel wrong.
Knowing you the way I do, I have a feeling your heart will know the difference.
Just remember to follow it.
So be brave little one—and I’ll promise to do the same: For you. For me. For us.
All my love, always,
* * *
Let me know: How do you stay brave in a world that tries to make you—and keep you—scared?
Corey is a writer, graphic designer, and mom to her amazing daughter, Zoey. Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, her goal is to simplify, enhance, and engage people’s lives by helping them focus on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.