Today you are twenty three months old.

I give your letters a lot of thought throughout the month, but this one I have avoided. The only thought I've had is how I don't want to think about this letter.

This is the last time I will write to you as a one-year-old.

As I was driving home, knowing this letter was waiting for me here, unwritten, I started to think about what I wanted to say.

Just as I started to write your letter, mentally, in my head, the radio started to talk of the journalist, Anthony Shadid, who, at 42, is now dead. Terry Gross began listing all the times he'd been kidnapped, held hostage, detained, and tortured while on the job. But most recently, he suffered a fatal asthma attack in reaction to some horses, and that is how he died.

There is no way to explain how well that parallels what I am about to write.

You have a friend, another baby born the same time as you, and the two of you play every week. Recently, I was there for your date and I filmed the two of you playing a game with your grandmother. It was a fast, luge-type race in the wagon, the width of our kitchen.

I don't know that I really noticed at the time that your playmate said, "Scary!" after every go (and then he said "MORE!" after every go), but since I had it on "film" you've played it over and over again and I've heard the transcript over and over again and I've heard him say "scary" over and over again.

It's not that you've never been scared, though it's rare, but you've certainly never uttered the word scary in your 23 months on this Earth.

There are many things in this world that are scary, to be sure. And fear is a valid, and healthy, emotion, indeed. It keeps us safe. It prevents disaster. It is what keeps us alive.

On the other hand, there are so many parts of this life you can grab by the throat, dig in your nails, and shake until it's done.

I've given a lot of thought to your path as a woman, and I don't ever want you to operate out of fear. I don't ever want you to doubt your abilities. I don't ever want you to feel like you're not in control, that you don't hold the pen, that you not the author of your timeline.

Because you are. You so are.

In no way is this to say I expect you to succeed at all that you do. No way. You master things quite quickly right now, but you must fail, you must get frustrated, you must learn to try again, because this is how to stay hungry. I am all for building things up, and tearing them down, and doing it all over again.

If there is one thing I promise, as your mother, it is to never let you hold my fear. I promise to always state my fears as my own and never project them onto your dreams and desires because I can think of nothing worse than a dream that was never even given a chance to die.

Happy Twenty Third Monthday.