I’ve loved you since before you were born. I cried tears of joy the first time I heard your heartbeat 148 beats a minute when you were in utero. The overwhelm of loving someone I didn’t know was incredible. And now, I know you, I see you, I hold you, I kiss you. We do life together and it’s a privilege beyond words.
I imagine you as a tiny baby, so small your head could be cradled in my hand and your feet only just made my elbow. And I also imagine you as an adult, who you will become, what you will choose to do and where those decisions will take you. You are the most incredible mix of empathy and drive, passion and pragmatism, strengths and sweetness. When people ask me what you’re like I tell them you’re equal parts compassion, creativity, and drive. I love that about you.
vI’m so honoured to be your Dad. When we lie next to each other talking about your day and you dance on your bed and tell me what you did and the things you did and learned. I am completely astounded at the ways you have dreamt up how to stay up late despite my best efforts to make you more of a sleeper like your brother. I often wonder if I’m doing any good, or being too hard, or passing on my own woundedness to you and Maddox. I fear that my inadequacies as a man will impact your experience of me as a father and possibly even your expression as a woman. I’m sorry, please forgive me.
You will finish high school at the end of 2027. Finishing school seems so far away, but you’re more than halfway through primary school and nearly halfway done for your formal education. I shouldn’t but I shake my head at how quickly the time seems to pass. Perhaps I’m better to take my own advice and invest time rather than spend it.
In 2012 Australia released a commemorative 20 Cent coin for International Women’s Day….. Yep, a coin. Even more than 100 years after the whole idea of women’s rights began the best we could do was a coin. We can and will do better.
So, on International Women's Day, my dream for you, so far….
Keep believing you are a woman of value.
The sad truth is in our world today, women and children are STILL the most vulnerable. Dislocation through war and famine, domestic violence, poverty, workplace equity and access to equivalent levels of support so you can be all you can be STILL don’t exist in the progressive world we live in. I know you’d be horrified to be told you’ll get less pay and less opportunity than the boys in your class. It seems worse than unfair, it’s unjust.
It stuns me and in your own words ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl if you can do the job you should get the same as everyone else.’ I believe you deserve to be treated with value, dignity, and equity. I believe you have a right to be safe. I believe that if anyone violates your personal space without permission you should scream “Stop it, I don’t like it.” Just like we’ve practiced.
I equally believe, as men, we need to be educated and re-educated. Papa grew up in a different world to the one you’re growing up in. His Dad, your great grandfather, refused to let your great grandmother work after they were married. Seems ‘wrong’ now but for him it mattered that he provided, protected and supported his family. That still matters to me so you know. Deeply. I guess it’s just in a different way because our world has changed.
Zaza, I see you. I notice you. You are lovely to me and Mummy. We value you.
Keep believing in your superpowers.
I’ll never forget that day we were bike riding during the summer in Manly. I put you in the front that morning because you’d had three days practice behind Mummy and we decided it was time to be the ‘leader.’ I called out as you strained to get up that small rise ‘You’re being a wonderful leader!” And you turned your head and said back to me “I am aren’t I daddy!” You were four years old and the possibilities were infinite.
I’m still embarrassed for disciplining you for leaving the dinner table without asking and running across the room that time Maddox hurt himself. When you tried to look at me your eyes immediately told me I had made a big mistake. You had seen what was going on, worked out the best thing to do and just did it. Being a parent to you changed forever that day. Thanks for letting me learn to be a better Dad that day, and every other day since.
Your ability to see, summarise and act on a situation is off the chain. Just quietly, it’s a leadership gift that might upset a few people and will certainly benefit many. Thanks for letting me teach you how to share more of what you’re thinking with us so that it's not just clear in your head but also in our hearts. I wish I learned that when I was nine.
You can seriously make something from nothing. You see possibility, opportunity, design, and execution as hobbies that appear effortless. Other peoples superpowers always seem effortless, don’t they? You can make up games, curate experiences and use what’s in your hand with such ease.
Oh, you are a natural with small children. Like Mummy, Anya and Mimi. It’s beautiful to watch.
Keep believing in your creativity.
I kept this one separate from your superpowers because I see it as so much of a stand-alone strength. We tell you all the time, ‘Zarriah, you can create something from nothing.’ And you can. When you do art, you conceptualise and create so beautifully. When you think of games and experiences, you design and execute like it’s a new theme park.
When you bake you’re a natural. You can make marinades without a recipe, you baked and decorated your own birthday cake this year, and last night those meringues with the note that says ‘Dad, do not eat’ and a count that you’ll check and hold me accountable to, I’m sure.
You can cook and bake. You can draw and paint. You can sing and play the flute. You can imagine games and experiences. Together that’s a formidable gift of creativity and conceptual leadership. You can see something in nothing and make it something. That gift will serve you and others for the rest of your life.
Keep believing in your contribution
You have a Mum who’s one of a kind. Mummy is the kind of woman I would point you towards even if I wasn’t married to her. Mummy is super talented, incredibly diligent, off the charts character and both elegance and spunk combined (Can you tell I like her?) When Mummy and I were talking in late 2017 she told me you said, “Why do I have to wait until I’m an adult to start a business?” Fair question. Without a good answer, we decided to start a business with you, then a seven year old. You sold your accessories online and raised money to put a clean water well in a village in Cambodia that didn’t have that. Do you know who that impacts? Women and children mostly. Women and children, who through no fault of their own, have less than you and now have access to clean, safe, drinking water because you decided not to set a limit on yourself. We’re so looking forward to the next phase of the Zarriah project for you, but also for the people you can help.
We make a living with what we get Zarriah, we make a life by what we give. (Attribution: Winston Churchill) I’m so proud of a young lady that has the passion and commitment to see this through, to learn what it means to run a business for profit and for good. Thousands and thousands of people could be impacted by your vision.
Keep giving. Keep contributing. Remember your skills are talents to steward not things you own to benefit just yourself.
Keep believing in your prayer.
I wrote your prayer for you before you were born. It had everything in it at that time that I wanted you to BE when I wasn’t as involved in your life. Although I can’t imagine that right now because nearly every morning I get to cuddle you, have breakfast with you, talk about your day and look forward to hearing about it later that night. Mum and I know all too well that we are raising you to be an adult, it’s that just now you are a child.
So your prayer is what I want to impart into you, what I hope, dream and pray you will be as an adult (and along the way too :))
I have written the prayer in bold and my explanation in italics for you and our friends who read this.
MY PRAYER FOR ZARRIAH GRACE.
As Zarriah sleeps that you would know God loves you and you’d love him back for the rest of your life.
Knowing you are loved and loving back are deep needs and satisfying possessions of your soul.
I pray that you would know your purpose in life and maximise its potential.
When you know WHY you were born you can be an unstoppable force in the world.
I pray you’ll say “Daddy, I’m blessed, and the good hand of God is upon me.”
I believe being grateful for who you are and what you have shows a strong, humble character.
I pray you’d be a leader AND a follower.
Because I believe you can’t be one without the other.
That you have friends because you’re friendly.
Life is a mirror, people remember how you made them feel not just what you did.
That you’d be a quick learner.
When you know how to learn you will know how to grow personally.
A wise decision maker.
Your life will be the sum total of your decisions. I believe you’ll make wise ones.
And a positive contributor to the world.
What we have is not for us. It’s to be used well for the benefit of others.
In Jesus name. Amen.
Zaza, Mummy and I love you. On IWD 2019 we celebrate you and look forward to a better future that we have no doubt, you will help create.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.