And here she is just last week:
Nine years ago today my life changed for the third time. I brought home my second child, my sweet little baby girl. The challenges of multiple children, different genders, sibling rivalry; all of that ran through my head the day we brought her home. We knew from the get-go there were going to be problems when TheBoy pushed the baby out of Mommy's lap because she was "in his way" - and things haven't progressed much beyond that in the internecine warfare department...
Having a daughter changes the world for a man (and a woman, of course). You realize that, yes, sometimes life *is* unfair to the other gender; that the expectations of little girls are significantly different than that of little boys - and most often, not as forgiving. There's "boys will be boys" but no "girls will be girls", that sort of thing. When you have a strong-willed male child, people talk about his leadership potential, about how he's going to be the captain of the winning team, the head of the debate club, etc. A strong-willed female child is stubborn, intractable; she should know her place, behave like a lady.
BabyGirl G., you be as strong-willed as you want. Don't let anyone define who you should be - let yourself be you, and if that's not good enough for someone, that's their problem, not yours. Explore the world; never be constrained by clucking tongues and being told you're not "acting like a lady" - tell them you're acting like BabyGirl G., because you are. We may clash occasionally, butting heads over bedtimes, or appropriate attire, or other mundane items that crop up in the here and now; but remember this today and always:
You will always be my little girl, and I will always love you with every fiber of my being.
Happy birthday to my little princess.
That is all.