Today is International Women’s Day.  In honor of today, I’ve written this.  This is for you, my daughter.

Perhaps, since I don’t personally have any specific religious convictions, it’s not quite accurate to call this a “prayer.”  Perhaps these are just a list of “hopes.”  But I’ve found that prayer, unlike hope, contains, intrinsically, the dual qualities of desperation and certainty.  Prayers, unlike hopes, are desperate. They transcend the realm of wanting and desiring, and enter into necessity, into requirement and essential.  They are desperate, because they are needed.

But prayers are also certain.  They are shouted in the dark by the lonely voice, but contain with them the comfort of being heard.  It doesn’t matter by whom.  A higher power.  A friend.  A kind neighbor.  Even people who stumble upon a mother’s blog post.  The person who prays is certain that, though their voice may echo in the silence, someone is listening on the other side.

This is my prayer.

I pray that one day, soon (very soon, please. It must be soon), all young girls will know, without question, without equivocation, without hesitation, that they are loved.  I pray that they will know that their clomping, loud, eager footsteps are their mothers’ favorite sounds.  I pray they will feel the admiration and amazement and awe that their fathers experience whenever they look at their little girls, their mysterious and tormenting, yet perfect little girls.

I pray that every single girl will feel safe in a space that she can call home.  I pray that her sense of “love” does not have to include violence, or abuse, or insult, or anger.  I pray that if such horrors do befall her, that she will have people who will take her away from such things, and bring her to a place of light, and joy, and popcorn and movies on Saturday nights.

I pray that she gets hugged.  Every day.

I pray that every booboo gets kissed better.

I pray that her grandparents will comb her hair into pigtails and braids, and her aunts and uncles will push her, higher higher and higher, on a swing.

I pray that every single little girl will gaze with wonder at the stars, and know that they, in their incomprehensible magnitude and distance, do not even contain a small percentage of the potential that she has in the tips of her eyelashes.  I pray that every little girl will be taken to see the stars, especially if she’s never seen them before.

I pray that every little girl will be told that she’s strong.  That she’s the strongest person in the world.  That she can pick up a house, and break a tree.  Because she is, and she can.

I pray that every little girl, when asked what her favorite book is, can’t make up her mind.  I pray that she never runs out of people who want to read them all to her.  People who will ask her to turn the pages.  People who will ask her what she thought.  People who will be unashamed to use the funny voices.

I pray that every little girl will have someone to kiss the nightmares away, and make her favorite foods on her birthday.

I pray that every little girl has a happy birthday.  Every year.

I pray that every girl knows she’s beautiful.  And that she believes it. Really and truly, and for the rest of her life.

I pray that every single little girl knows the lie contained in the words “You can’t.”

I pray that every girl knows she has value, regardless of her gender identity or reproductive ability.  She has value because of who she is, not what she’s expected to do.

I pray that every little girl grows up being unafraid to dream.  Dream big, girls.  Dream ridiculous, and colossal, and silly, and insane, and inane.  Just dream.

I pray, my small daughter, that you know these things.  I pray that I’m smart enough and good enough to teach them to you.  I pray that you know you are the reason for my today and all of my tomorrows.  I pray that when you’re a teenager and hate me, when I have to punish you, when I have to tell you that you can’t go to the movies with that boy, or you can’t wear that sweater, or that you have to eat your peas (even though we both know that I don’t eat peas myself), you still know that I would give my life, my health, my future, my all for you.  Because I will.  Without question, without equivocation, without hesitation.  My darling Sophia.  I’m yours.  Please know that.

This I pray.