… on a letter to my daughter as she graduates college


Pinch pots; June Mackenzie Dingle; circa grade 4, Swallow Union Elementary School, Dunstable, Massachusetts.

Dear Mac,

I was in the pantry this morning, looking at the pinch pots that have been here and there and everywhere in our house since I unwrapped them one Christmas morning so many years ago.

It occurred to me that I should grab my camera, because the morning light was so pretty. And then I got to thinking.

I have read so many of your essays, from elementary school to middle school to high school to college.

And many of them have been about me.

It makes sense, because many kids choose to write about their moms when they are little. But, as you grew, and your life took on some perspective and context in the wider world, you still wrote here and there about my life, and how it impacted your life.

I think it’s time I do the same, about you.

I thought about starting with your birth and working my way forward, with tidbits about your early arrival, silent temper tantrums (where you would throw yourself, belly down, spread-eagled on the floor of the supermarket and stay there, not making a sound, as people eyed me suspiciously and stepped over you per my hand motions, eye rolls, and me smiling and shaking my head). I thought of mentioning the full circle of your life’s fashion preferences – dresses at first, then stirrup pants (no bumps(wrinkles) allowed), then jeans and t-shirts and converse sneakers every day, then dresses again (this time with high heels). I thought of lots of stories, some you’ve heard and some maybe not.

And then I thought of this.

I am so happy for you.

How many parents get to say they are happy for their kids.

Proud? Sure.

Freaked out by? Okay probably more than care to admit it.

But truly happy, like in general, not just on a wedding day?

Well, me for one.

And I’ll tell you why.

You are loyal. You are so, so loyal when it comes to your friends, and your family. I have seen it. I have heard it. And, when that loyalty isn’t returned, I have shed tears with you over it.

And yet, you are still loyal.

You are caring. You pay attention to those around you – everyone around you, not just the popular kids or the easily likable people who you see every day. Everyone. You take each person as they present themselves to you, no matter what others say about them. And sometimes you are disappointed. Just sometimes.

And yet, you are still caring.

You love magic. You don’t love it because you never experienced it, and wish that it was a part of your childhood. You love it because it has been a part of your life.  And even though you know that sometimes I or Dad happens to be behind it, you still love it. I will never forget our talk about Santa Claus, when I told you he was not real. You rebounded so quickly when I told you that it was now your responsibility to create the magic for your little brothers.

And then you asked me if the Easter Bunny was ‘still real’.

Sure, sometimes people think you are wHierd when you get excited about a quote from Piglet or Pooh, or when you cry at a Disney parade, or while watching a YouTube video of a great wedding proposal starring a couple you will never meet or know. And sometimes people tell you that there is no magic. And that magic is silly.

And yet, you love magic anyway.

You love. You love fully and completely. You love your friends and your family and you love Jack. And once you love, you don’t yield. And sometimes people have told you that love should wait, or love wouldn’t last, or love shouldn’t be taken too seriously by someone so young. And some people have said ‘I love you’ in that trendy, say it to everyone all the time way that people do today. And you’ve believed them. And your heart broke when their definition of love didn’t match your own.

And yet, you love anyway.

You are brave, in that you don’t lie.

You are humble, in that you know that there is so much you don’t know.  But you are eager to learn.

When you were little, we used to talk about being the type of person that others want to be around.

I would tell you that this has nothing to do with being popular, and everything to do with being loyal, and caring.

That it has everything to do with being able and willing to love and trust, and believing in magic and possibility.

That it means being truthful, and being willing to be wrong, and to always be willing to learn from anyone and everyone you meet.

And you have these traits. Oh sure, we all work on ourselves, and you will always work on you. But you have them.

They are not evaluated, or graded, and they can’t be studied for.

These traits need to be earned.

They need to be lived.

And you, my loving and loved daughter, have them all.


Now it’s time for you to take them out for a spin, into the broader world.

And I can’t wait to see what happens.

I’m so happy for you.




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