Dear daughter, your joy is contagious
Dear daughter, your joy is contagious

Dear daughter, your joy is contagious

dear daughter,

Thank you for teaching me what joy is.

Thank you for waking up laughing and babbling no matter how dark the night was.

Thank you for that sweet smile you give me when you see me, half awake and lying in bed in the morning.

Thanks for the grin that lights up the room when your dad comes home from work.

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Some days are hard. When you cry and I don’t know what you want, or when my arms hurt from you, or when I can’t feel my legs after chasing you around the apartment for hours. But even on those days, I look through my phone after you go to bed to relive every moment. I look into those captivating eyes and can hear the contagious laughter coming from your parted mouth.

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And I wonder, every day, how the hell so much joy fits into such a small person.

From the moment you started to smile, you showed such innocent, carefree and unbridled joy. Your curiosity about the world around you, your openness to every new experience and your enthusiasm for all that life has to offer never fails to amaze me. Even on the days you are sick, you smile between coughing fits and look at me contentedly as you snuggle up next to me.

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Joy is hard to explain. The dictionary says it’s “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness,” but that doesn’t seem to do the word justice. Dear daughter, you have shown me that joy is not meant to be described in words. It’s meant to be seen in the twinkle in your eyes and felt in the intensity of your hugs.

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I have never been so confident as to know what joy is.

Have I ever been as happy as you? was your father If we ever were, we don’t remember. It seems hard to imagine that the two of us could have made you. Somehow you are not tainted by our cynicism, our pain, our worries. It pains me to think that we will never be able to completely protect you from the world. One day you will see the not so pretty sides of life. But I pray you never give up your joy.

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I had heard of parents learning from their children, but I never imagined that I would learn so much from you in just the first year of life. I knew I was going to learn how to change diapers and how to soothe you and how to work in short chunks while you nap. But I never expected to learn something so profound. I never thought I would be able to see the world with fresh eyes and share your enthusiasm for life.

Dear daughter, thank you for teaching me what joy is.

May the darkness of the world never extinguish the light in you.

Ashley Leung

I am a developmental psychologist, calligrapher and mother. My husband and I have a daughter (and a cat!).