Welcome to the family. I wish I could have been there on your born day, but I hope you understand that although I was not physically present, I was there in spirit.
There’s a lot that I want to say to you, a lot that I hope I have the courage to share with you as you get older and wiser, a lot that I wish someone had told me when I was younger.
Our parents really love us. They have sacrificed so much to make our lives possible, and I know that this knowledge can weigh heavily on our shoulders. I know that we, as their children, want to make them proud, want their sacrifices to be worth something. I am here to tell you that you are already worth the sacrifice, just as you are. No matter how difficult it may seem to believe that, no matter how impossible it may feel to meet their expectations at times, I promise you that they love you, and that I love you, and that we love you just as you are.
Speaking of expectations, I hope I can be there to remind you that the only person you have to impress is yourself. You are going to face a lot of pressure in this world, as a brown girl, as the child of immigrant parents. There might be times where you feel unloved, unwanted, or simply unworthy of the best, and I hope I can be there to assure you that those feelings are normal. The reality is that you are loved, you are wanted, and you are worthy of the very best. I hope I am there to remind you that your brown skin is beautiful, and that our parents are beautiful, and that our family, as hectic as it can be at times, is beautiful.
I hope I can be there when you make mistakes, because we all make them; I make them all the time. I know our parents may tell you that I’ve got it all under control, and that all it took was hard work, but that’s not true. I am only where I am now with the help and love of family and friends, and several mistakes that I had to learn from to be ready for my life now. I hope I can help you through your dark times, and sit with you when you need someone to just sit with you. I hope I can encourage you to cry, because it helps, it really does, and I hope I can help you laugh when you are ready to laugh again.
I hope I can help you learn how to love your body, how to hold on to yourself and your autonomy. I hope I can be there when you feel powerless, and remind you that your power is never truly gone; sometimes it’s just hiding, and we have to spend some time remembering where it could be. I hope I can be there when you feel alone. I hope I am someone you call when you feel alone, because I promise you will never really be alone.
I hope that I can be there to help you reject all the policing of your body that will come as you get older. I hope I can show you that it is possible to honor your truths and your family, even when they are in conflict with one another. It has taken our parents a long time to expand their ideas of gender and sexuality, but I promise you that you will never have to face their rigidity alone.
I hope that I can learn from you, just as much as I hope you will learn from me. You have already taught me so much about embodying joy and love in the short time you’ve been in my life, and I know that I will only continue to grow as our relationship deepens.
I know I won’t be around all that often. Believe me when I say that I think about you everyday, and that the pictures and videos of us make me smile even on the hardest days. I might not be there when you take your first steps, or when you have your first day of school, but I’m only a phone call away, I promise. It’s hard to be so far away from you and our parents, but I do this work so that one day I can come home and stay.
I love you, habichuela. Thank you for bringing so much love and joy into my life.