I Thought My Job Was to Speak for My Child. Then I Heard This.

I used to believe that my job was to speak for my child.

I did not yet know that it was really to listen.

To listen to her.

To listen those who experience life through a lens more similar to hers than mine.

To listen to those who know what it’s like to see what she sees, feel what she feels, know what she knows.

When I listen, I hear the same refrain again and again.

Don’t try to change me.

(It won’t really work.)

Love me.

(Love me not for what I might one day be but for who I am right this very second, right here, right now.)

Love me not by trying to wedge me into your vision of what it means to be human, but by respecting my experience of being human.

Protect me.

(Protect me not by teaching me to camouflage myself but by instead helping to create a world in which I no longer need to hide to survive.)

Protect me by showing me how to love myself, believe in myself, value who I am as I am.

Protect me by showing me that I am not alone — that there is a vibrant, diverse, beautiful community awaiting me with open arms — waiting to guide me, to support me, to welcome me home.

Show me.

(Trust that I’m watching.)

Show me that you value my community.

(Celebrate my extended family.)

Show me that their opinions matter to you.

Show me that you will never let your voice eclipse theirs … ours.

Show me that you’re listening to them … us … me.

That’s what I hear when I listen.

So that is what I will do.

The image is a photo from 2008 of my daughter, Brooke, at age 5, whispering in her daddy’s ear.

This post originally appeared on A Diary of a Mom.

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