01/02/2014 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What I Hope My Daughter Always Sees When She Looks in the Mirror

My Tegan,

You are 20 months and three weeks old today, my precious girl who is full of words and life, whose day has a rhythm that you dance to -- routines that help you to thrive, feel safe and secure in your expanding world.

If they're taken away -- because we have company, because we sleep away from home, because we run errands when you want to read and play -- I see you act out, become teary and frustrated (or, even worse, silent). I see you go into hiding.

Because your routines are more than just playing, reading favorite books, gathering lovies for night time; they are moments. Moments to grow and thrive. To create and discover, to test and learn and succeed. To feel in time with yourself and what you know of this world.

Bath time is one of your favorite routines. You love the feel of the water, how it can soak a wash cloth, respond to your splashing. You love the smell of your soap, to have your hair rinsed clean.

The other night, we knelt in front of the bath tub, side by side on the green tile floor. You watched me as I plugged the drain, spun the handle. You caught the water in your tiny hand, admired the stream.

I thought about how you can't see yourself the way I see you, my miracle who's name I knew years before you were born, who amazes me daily with your beauty and insight.

"Do you want to see yourself?" I asked.


I lifted you up and held you in front of the bathroom mirror. You smiled at your reflection, then patted your belly, big and round from a night of cheese ravioli.

"I see you, Tegan," you said. Your eyes seemed to look past yourself, through the blue intricacies of your irises. I was immediately struck by what an intrinsic statement it was, how far beyond your years. I told you that I saw you, too.

I wonder sometimes how you will see yourself as you age, as routines become more commonplace and ordinary, as the world starts to lose its magic. In the moments when you can't see yourself, when you feel lost in a world that so often focuses on the surface of things.

I hope that I can adequately help you to navigate through the coming years, to find safety and security in what's worth treasuring, in the people who love you. To not hide or be silent, to thrive despite your situation or necessary routine. To always create and discover, to find that your world is still expanding, that you can always be learning, my love. I will always do my best to help you succeed.

In this moment you are sleeping, dreaming about Elmo or painting or your best friend, Anna. And I'm sure it all has a rhythm, a routine that brings you comfort and sweet dreams.

May you always wake to see yourself, my darling, to find rest in yourself despite the rhythm you must dance to.

I will always see you.