You Are…


Dear Isabel,

Even though this entire blog began because you were born, I have never written directly to you. I’ve written plenty of things about you, and about what you mean to me and your mama, and about our journey through parenthood—but never to you.

You are shaping up to be a pretty cool girl, but who you are today is as much a byproduct of the experiences and people that came before you. This post is about those things.

You are Latino and white. There will come a day when a kid will say something to you on the playground about your skin being different from theirs and you will come to us asking questions. We may not always have the answers, but we will certainly give you the necessary tools to explore your racial identity and define it for yourself.

You are strong-willed like your mama, and there is nothing wrong with that. You might be called bossy when you get older but that person is just trying to diminish your assertiveness. Stick up for yourself, don’t be afraid to speak your mind, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

You embody the sounds of La Buena Vista Social Club and the flavors of con gris. Your Ito had a much different childhood than you growing up in Cuba. Cherish his stories, learn his language (yes, he has his own), and appreciate his hard work that enabled your Mama to have the life she did.

You descend from generations of Hava Nagila dancers and their matzoh  balls. Your great-grandmother was a tremendous cook and her legacy lives on in the traditional Jewish dishes that you have already enjoyed. One day we’ll make a Jimmy cake, and I’m sure you’ll spend the entire time eating the Jimmies, or getting crazy off the caffeine in the coffee.

You are equal parts Catholic and Jewish, and celebrate the miracle in Israel during Hanukkah and the miracle in Bethlehem on Christmas. There will come a time when this might confuse you, but until then, enjoy it. (And for those you being judgy, rest assured that during Hanukkah she only gets a book a night from us.)

You are the daughter of educators. Collectively, the women in your life have spent more time in a classroom than you will ever spend on your own. Learn from them and ask them questions. They’re incredibly smart and will always be eager to read you a book, teach you something new, or help you with an assignment.

You are Frida Kahlo, Golda Meir, Cesar Chavez, and Che Guevara. These and other cultural and political heroes contributed to the world you now live in. Seek out their messages and learn about their impact on society, as their influence is evident today and will be evident as you mature.

You are a master in your kitchen, making pom pom soup, LEGO stir fry and Play Doh cupcakes like your mama conducts her stove, oven, and mixer. Eventually, you will have a an attention span longer than that of an ant and spend enough time on the helper stool I built so you can learn a few things. #notbitter

You have an eagerness to garden that you certainly did not inherit from your parents. If you find peace among the roses, that’s fine, you can spend more time at the Ito’s and let us have a break.

You are privileged. You were born in a safe hospital, came home to a house with heating and cooling and a full fridge, and have access to clean water and medicine. Both your parents have advanced degrees and will provide you with as many opportunities to learn and grow as possible. You have access to technology, which will open your eyes to the world beyond your bubble. And you have a support system that will never let you fall.

Some of these characteristics will feature predominantly in your life, others will only make small cameos, but all are important, so learn about them, integrate them into your story, and define what they mean to you.