Dear Giovanna Faith,
I’m fairly sure you had almost the exact birthday you wanted. You traded in your usual birthday party for an iPad mini, which you’re using with a stylus as a drawing tablet, and also for reading and homework games and texting. You took a selfie with it at 9:38 am on 1/20/20, the very minute you turned 10. In the photo, you’re smiling with your whole face and your cousins linger in the background. The beauty of that day will linger for a long time.
You came to us 10 years ago, leaping through a triangular-shaped window of love formed by me, Daddy, and Emile. When you’re looking back on your childhood, I hope you can see that you were not the only one growing up. We were all growing up together.
We named you Giovanna, “God is gracious,” for the grace with which you arrived. You were always our little miracle. I hardly believed you were in there, though countless ultrasounds during my pregnancy assured me otherwise. The doctor kept telling me things were wrong—my cervix was too short, your placenta was too low, my stomach wasn’t growing fast enough—but you kept on cooking without any trouble (according to my body alone) until the day before your due date.
The night before you were born, the sun moved into Aquarius and I said to myself, she can come now. My water broke with the tiniest little pop just before 4:30 in the morning. There was no large gush of water, but I suspected something was happening. The contractions started to become painful an hour later and we were at the hospital an hour after that. Three hours later, you were in our arms. And you stayed in our arms for about 6 months. I fell so hard in love that I couldn’t put you down.
It’s been 10 years of love and fear, push and pull, dependence and separation, learning how to be a family, respect one another, and really listen. 10 years of watching you take in and on the world. 10 years of seeing the human experience, but particularly my self, reflected in you.
You’ve shown me who I am and who I want to be. How to delight in life without reservation. How to giggle with your whole spirit and smile with your whole face. How to express rather than suppress pain when it’s overwhelming. How to melt someone’s heart.
I love you how you love your family. I love your loyalty, your sense of adventure, your big imagination, your infinite curiosity and sensitivity. You’re a prolific maker of crafts, stories, drawings, poems, and so many other things. You’re on a soccer team and taking gymnastics. You ran your first 5k last month with Girls on the Run and I got to be your running buddy. You wanted to be a Girl Scout so I started a Junior troop. You bleached the ends of your hair and dyed them purple. You’re on track to read at least 50 books this year. Most days, I’m just trying to keep up.
I can’t wait to see where this year and decade takes us. You will come of age in the 2020s, a time fraught with injustice and inequality but also unprecedented global connection and hope. So much of our hope lies in you and your generation. I’m working hard every day to raise you to love hard, serve the greater good, and always remember your inner-light and inner-guides. No matter how hard I try, you know I make many mistakes. Thank you for always forgiving me.
You are a deeply sensitive, empathetic, and emotional soul. This is the decade you will learn how to harness these big feelings and use them for the greater benefit.
You are a little goddess, growing up so fast, and I love you like crazy.