A Letter to My Daughter

Kristen Carbone
3 min readJan 25, 2024

“I will not be a mystery to my daughter. She will know me and I will share my stories with her — the stories of failure, shame and accomplishment. She will know she’s not alone in that wilderness.” — Viola Davis

(I found this letter in the notes on my phone and have yet to send it to my brilliant daughter.)

Darling girl,

I am sorry that you’re struggling right now. It’s difficult for me to see your middle school experience as only yours because I remember mine so vividly.

We are similar in many ways and one thing we share is the experience of finding sixth grade a particularly challenging.

It’s so easy for me to close my eyes and be back Whole Language (which I still blame for my bad spelling) where my teacher, a former nun, told me I should try exercising more to get rid of my tummy. Or to teleport myself back to math class, which I almost failed, because I was so distracted by Mark Ward. He was tall, so I obviously decided I had a crush on him and he was obviously already dating my pretty blonde friend, Nicole.

Sixth grade was the first time a friend confided that she thought she liked girls, and the year another friend was raped. I moved through the hallway of B Wing feeling alone even when I was surrounded by my peers. My friends were peppered across friend groups and I was an island with many bridges but only my own little house. I wasn’t cool enough to sit with at the lunch table with the girls who lived in my neighborhood and sometimes would stand with my lunch for a long time wondering if someone would ever invite me to the table.

At home, being emotional wasn’t encouraged. Logic and reason and propriety were firmly positioned as top priorities and so on the days when I was overcome with the frustration and sadness and hormones that made me cry, I mostly did that alone. Feeling sad made me feel weak, and so I hid it.

I think, dear girl, that this is where we differ the most. Deep down I believe you know that your emotions and empathy are a powerful asset that you are learning how to control, and in turn, leverage. You have always cried freely and I love that about you. I want you to feel all your feelings.

I also want for you to always know, even when you’re overcome by feelings, that you will be ok. Because, as your wise Dad has said to me many, many times in the moments when it really felt like nothing would ever be ok again, that “things will be ok because they have to be.” He is right.

And while I wish I had a secret anecdote that would help you get through this time, I can only offer up my time and my love. I will always make time to listen to you without judgement and to love you fully.

I know you’re going to grow up to be the most wildly interesting and bright adult and I hope that you can find ways to enjoy the time between now and then.

With all my heart,




Kristen Carbone

Just trying to understand the tiny space I occupy in the cosmos without becoming too distracted by the laundry.