Today, you turned seven years old! It is incredible how fast time flies. I can still remember the day you were born.
Your mom and I lived on 73rd and Constance Avenue in an apartment on Chicago’s Southside. We planned for you to be born at home. Throughout your mom’s pregnancy, we worked with a midwife and a doula to ensure your arrival to this world was safe. On the day your mom went into labor, your grandmothers, great grandmother, grandfathers, two of your aunties, midwife, and doula were present. Our little apartment was full of people and love in anticipation to meet you.
Mom and I were especially excited to see your small face for the first time in our home, but you had other plans. We walked around the apartment, completed all the recommended breathing exercises, prayed to God, did a mini squat workout—you name it—and we tried to have a natural homebirth. However, after thirty long hours of labor the midwife decided to transfer your mom to the nearest hospital.
The doctor later explained that occasionally when a woman gives birth for the first time her body is confused. She doesn’t understand how to relax and enable the dilation process to do what it is designed to do. Eventually, your mom’s body responded and she relaxed. Fifty-two hours after labor began, you arrived on December 17, 2010, at University of Chicago Hospital.
When I looked into your eyes for the first time, my whole world changed. Finally, I was a father. The honor that I dreamed about from the moment I learned of your mom’s pregnancy became real. You were a healthy and beautiful child. That’s all that mattered in those first seconds you blinked your eyes at me.
Fast forward seven years … it is wonderful to see how much you have grown. You and your brothers have accomplished plenty in your limited time on this earth.
I am proud to say that I am your father.
You are destined to be a leader. I see it in the way you boss your little brothers around the house, enjoy creating art, and remain loving and kind. At seven years old, you can speak Spanish, English, and some Portuguese. Your ability to not allow your gender assignment to dictate your household roles or what others may assume about your level of intelligence is remarkable.
I want the best for you. It is important to me that you understand your rights as a woman. You are equally intelligent and capable as any boy or man you will encounter in your life’s journey. In the news right now, countless sexual harassment allegations exist against political figures and celebrities. On social media, people use #metoo to share their stories and pledge solidarity with others who have experienced forms of sexual assault.
I pray that you and your brothers never experience any sexual, verbal, or mental forms of abuse in your lives. If I could permanently wrap my arms around you and protect you from any physical or psychological harm, I would. That’s just simply not the reality. It is important to me that you discover who you are designed to be … independent of our family. God forbid if something ever happens, please know that as long as Daddy lives he will be there for you.
You are worth more than any modern human instrument can measure.
On this seventh birthday Zuri, know that I love you and always will.
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