In the weeks after Ziya was born, I wrote her a letter describing who I was at the time of her birth, my feelings in the weeks after, and the changes she brought to my life. I wrote without plan or editing, more than a dozen pages, filling an entire set of writing paper than I’d had since my early 20s.
When should she get these letters, written each year for her birthday? I think when she can read them for herself is important, just before adolescence and on the cusp of adulthood when it’s important to remember that her parents are people too. Ours are interwoven, though different, paths. The letters are to help her map her past and, from that, chart a future based on knowing who and where she is from.
I want her to know some of the little ways that being a woman in this time is not easy. Yet, how being a woman can be powerful beyond compare. As well, both the exhilaration and exhaustion of being a mother, the fulfilment of working at something you like and are good at, and the importance of getting an education in whatever you are passionate about.
I want her to know that love and marriage are not easy, but that finding a tried and true soulmate is possible and it is bliss. I want her to know how her dad treated me and that she has a right to be treated right in her relationships too. I want her to know how a wealth of self-knowledge and insight into her past can help her to understand herself, her decisions and her vision for the world.
For me, the letters are an attempt to continually remind myself of the importance of communication, reflection and honesty in my relationship with her. I don’t want to reach a day when I have so much to say, but don’t know how to say it or she doesn’t have the time to hear or it seems the past should just be let go even though there is so much about it to know. I guess I am hoping that the letters will help her to understand, love and, where necessary, forgive me as we all must grow into understanding, tolerance and forgiveness of our parents for being only too human.
These letters are a window into a world that she inhabited before she began conscious of its contours. Women’s writings, letters and diaries are where our herstories can be recorded, where a matrilineal connection can be established, where the panorama of feminine experience can be valued and where legacies of truth, love, politics and dreams can be handed down. These letters can show her what she has taught me, how I hope to make her proud, and the value of baby steps for us all along the way. They can show her how sacred it is to be a woman and how powerful the simple stories of our lives can be.