In her eyes,
she is perfect.
She looks great wearing dresses,
she looks cute wearing sweats and/or jeans.
She looks great in boots and sneakers.
She looks like a princess when she dresses up.
She loves her eyes and she is told that they look like dad.
She loves that. That there is a piece of her she got from him.
She loves her smile and she is told she got it from mom.
She loves that too, that a part of me is in her.
She loves that we have the same color hair.
We match mom, our hair, it matches.
She loves hearing about how much we are alike, how much she and Cory are alike.
She wants to know where she came from.
How we are connected.

She loves to look at pictures of herself.
Old pictures, pictures we just took, pictures of her and Cole, pictures of just her.
God, she loves loves loves to take pictures with me, with us.
She loves family shots.

She loves to show us her artwork.
She loves to hear that she is creative, that I love the fact that she used my favorite color.
We do homework together and I remind her how smart she is.
How well she has adjusted to reading and writing and math.
And she loves to see how proud we are when she is reading that book alone, or complete that match problem.
I am in awe watching her learning unfold, I am amazed and she beams with pride.

And at some point, she is going to think she is not good enough.
I won't know how she will get there.
I may not hear the comment that makes her believe it.
Or maybe it's years of hearing how she needs to look different, dress different, act different.
Maybe it's someone telling her she has to spend 5 hours a day on a sport in order to really compete in it.
Or maybe it's a magazine article that makes her feel bad.
Maybe a classmate will say something.
Maybe she will overhear a grown up talk about how much she wants to change about her body.
And maybe that will lead her to believe that she needs to change hers too.

But at some point, she will lose her sparkle.
She will lose her shine.
She will see herself not as perfect and gorgeous and smart,
she will want to change so much about her.

Anna, perfect is impossible to live up to.
It does not exist.
But happiness, it's inside us.
It's something we have to pick.
Happy and calm and content, with what you have and connections you make.

Sweet girl, know that our connections bind us.
You came from us, two people that wanted you, tried for you, work for you.
You get your eyes from him, your smile from me, your humor from him, your thinking from me.
And so sweet girl, don't over think like me.
Don't obsess.
Feel the calm and the happy wash over you.
You are not perfect, but you are lovely, you are healthy, you are all that we have poured into you and all that you are creating.
You are not perfect, but you are insanely gorgeous, inside, out, and that gorgeous gorgeous mind of yours.
Stop with picture perfect.
Start happy.

Look at yourself with smiles,
be kind and gentle to yourself.
Create happy sweet girl.
Leave perfect for movies and commercials and shows that can create something unreal.
Live in this imperfect and scary world.
Live and love the imperfect.
Find happy.
You are not perfect.
You are Anna James Houser and you are remarkable at being her.

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