06/10/2014 03:03 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2014

To My Future Daughter

chris carroll via Getty Images

Dear Future Daughter,

I don't know you yet, but I already know I will love you with everything I have and everything I am. My parents have both told me they didn't really know what love was until they met me, and I'm sure I will feel the same about you. Even though motherhood is still quite a ways off for me, you should probably know I am scared sh*tless of it. As much as I love you, you terrify me.

You terrify me because I already know that no matter how hard I try (and try I will), I cannot shelter or protect you from the harsh realities that come with the world we live in. As a woman raised by a single mother, I will especially try to instill in you, my daughter, both the brilliant and difficult things you will likely face as a woman. You're going to hear a lot from me about girl power, feminism and gender roles, and chances are you will probably be tired of it by the time you understand it all. That won't stop me from telling you.

I want you to both appreciate how far we have come, yet understand how far we still need to go. I want you to know that being a woman can be empowering, degrading, wonderful, scary and many, many more things. Often, all at the same time.

I want you to know that you are in no way less than your father, your brother or your male peers simply because you are female. I want you to be built up by the ways the world tries to bring you down; I want injustices to inspire and motivate you, not to make you bitch and moan. Complaining will not get you anywhere except right back where you started.

I want the decisions you make, as a woman and more importantly as an independent person, to be your own. Don't let societal norms or pressures take choices that should be your own away from you. I already know you are going to be so smart, and so brilliant, and so capable. Don't question these parts of yourself, even when that boy you like, or that teacher, or that girl you're friends with do. That's another thing -- challenges can come from all sides. Don't be afraid of everyone, but be aware that things often do not look like what you think they will.

Stand up for yourself, sweetheart. Flex your intellectual muscles, and, if you happen to inherit more athleticism than I did, the ones in your arms and legs as well. Wear what makes you feel good, not what are told will catch you a man. Don't settle for someone who doesn't see and appreciate you for who you are. Don't be afraid to trust, but also don't be willing to jeopardize the safety of your body or of your heart.

Most of all, know that I am here for you. As your grandmother was the voice of reason and experience that I all-too-often did not listen to, I hope to be the same voice for you. I hope you can come to me with the embarrassing, the ground-able, the celebratory, the challenging, the go-out-for-ice-cream-ing, and the everything in-between. We're bound to have some awkward conversations, you and I, but I'm ready for them, because they are so important. I'm going to talk to you about consent, and domestic violence, and self-respect, and slut-shaming, and why things like buying condoms or asking for someone's number should not be reserved for men. I'm also going to talk to you about how beautiful and cheesy falling in love is, how awesome sex can be and how you shouldn't settle for anyone who doesn't appreciate how truly incredible I know you're going to be.

I'm going to talk, and you're going to be forced to listen. But I am going to talk, and educate, and love, because that is the best way I know how to protect you. I know I won't be there to protect you every time I'd like to be (to your relief, I'm sure), but I want to equip you with the knowledge and skills so that if I am not there to protect you, I know you will be able to protect yourself.

You already give me hope, love and pride, as I'm sure you will every day of our lives together.


Your Future Mother

This post originally appeared on Yes, Like The River.