Dear Girls: On Being Brave

Dear Girls,

Last week I took you for a check up at the doctor’s office and you both got a few shots. Picture me sitting on the exam table one of you in each of my arms, clinging to me, hot and sweaty with tears and quaking sobs. My heart both breaks and swells into a million pieces in those moments, so strong is the love I have for you.

Afterwards Vera, I told you that you were very brave.

“No mommy,” you replied. “I wasn’t brave because I was scared.”

“But that’s exactly what being brave is,” I explained. “Doing something, even when you’re afraid.”

You didn’t reply, just nodded solemnly and stared out the window thinking about what I’d said.

I’ve been thinking about it too. I’d never quite put it to words like that before. This thing called bravery.

The truth is that I’m afraid all the time. I’m scared of everything.

I fear that I’m not a good enough mother, that there are a thousand missteps I’m making along our way. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do all the things I want to do, write the books I envision, get to all the places I want to go. I’m scared that I’m not a good enough friend, that I fail to put others before myself. I fear for my work and my housekeeping abilities. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m scared that I’ll be lonely again one day. I worry about my health and my culinary abilities. I afraid of hurting people, of not being in the places I’m supposed to be. I’m afraid of being judged, afraid of judging. I worry sometimes that the words I write aren’t as real as they could be. Sometimes I realize I’m not breathing, and I’m afraid that one day I’ll stop altogether.


Despite all of those swirling anxieties, I get up every day and plunge forth, wading through the thickness of my life. Leaning into it all as though there is no other choice.

So, by my own definition, is that bravery?

Living my life, even though I’m afraid to.

I sold my second book this month girls. It was a profound moment in my life. Vera, you were at school, and Jules you were taking a nap, when the call came in from my agent that Penguin had made an offer. I hung up the phone and wept for a solid twenty minutes.

Just stood in the living room by myself in the middle of the day, looking around, and weeping. All I’ve ever wanted since I was a little girl was to write books, to be a real author, and something about selling my second book, confirmed that dream as a reality.

I wept too, that my parents are not here to witness my accomplishments, the taste of that desire as bittersweet as you can imagine. And then I wiped my face, woke up you, Jules, with a hundred kisses, and picked up you Vera, from school, and swept you both off to the beach where the world was wide and wonderful and real.


I’ve been traveling a lot these last few weeks. Leaving you both at home in the care of your doting father, while I head out into the world. It’s felt amazing to be alone. To be quiet, to be unsure and lonely and scared. To be in a hotel room in a strange city, tucked into a big bed, all by myself. To wake up in the morning and speak to no one for the first couple of hours. The opposite of motherhood.

I’ve missed you immensely on those days, in those places, but I’ve also gulped down those solitary moments, drinking as much as I can before returning to our life together. These days have been important to me, and I have this funny feeling that they’ll be important to you as well. Not just when you have these same experiences, but that your mother did.

There’s nothing quite like traveling alone. It requires bravery. Stepping off an airplane in a foreign city, renting a car and driving down a road you’ve never known, eating dinner alone in a restaurant, putting yourself to bed at night, only to wake early so that you can hike through an unfamiliar forest, the only sound your own footsteps.

If there’s ever a moment in your life when you’re feeling unsure of who you are, take a little journey like this one and you’re sure to remember.

I think that’s one of the bravest things you can really do in life. Remember who you are.









  • Posted August 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful and brave. Love your spirit and your words so I’m looking forward to your next book. Congratulations.

  • Lisa Lilienthal
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Congratulatons Claire! So thrilled for your book news. Beautiful words, as always, and infinitely relatable to me. xo

  • Melissa Valdez
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Hello Claire,

    I am so happy that I found a blog with your daily writings. I was on vacation this past week and before I left I purchased your book. I could not put the book down the entire trip- once it ended I felt a bit sad because I wanted to hear more of your journey, of your bravery. Thank you for continuing to share your life and story with us all. So much of what you shared touched me beyond words. Thank you

  • Evelyn
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite posts to date. Love everything about this. My favorite line: the opposite of motherhood. So true! Yes. Yes. And yes. To this.

  • Sian
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    A beautiful letter to your girls which was actually exactly what I needed to hear for myself today, thank you!

  • Casey
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your second book deal! I loved this post, even though I don’t have kids, I can relate to feelings of anxiety and bravery in daily life. These letters are such a gift for your girls and when they’re older they’ll feel so lucky to have a mother who put so much effort into creating their lives. Loved reading this.

  • Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    What a gorgeous post. Your writing is always inspiring and brave 🙂
    Your words are also exactly what I needed to hear today. In the middle of a difficult time, swirling, navigating in turbulence, I need to follow the advice you gave your girls and ‘take a little journey’. I think I will!
    Thank you,

  • Michelle
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes.
    All of it. Perfect, wonderful thoughts.
    Other than the worries of you not being a good enough mom. You’re amazing!
    I share so many of those fears…I wonder how many of us do? My guess is – many. If not most.
    And I love solitary travel as well, although I miss my kids the whole time (while relishing the peace).
    Gathering the courage to walk into a nice restaurant (or any restaurant, really) and eat alone. It never takes long before I’m completely eavesdropping on others or imagining their lives.

    Beautiful letter to your girls.

  • Melissa
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    One of the most profound things I’ve ever read. Thank you for being courageous and sharing your soul with us, Claire. I am always better for having read your honest words.

  • Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    I have recently discovered a little bit about being brave. From my youngest daughter. She managed to combine pre-eclampsia, failed inductions, child-birth, a ruptured appendix and a major operation within a very short time. She came a few hours from death as they removed her intestines to a nearby table to flush the abdominal cavity in a 5 hour operation. Next day she managed to managed to get out of bed despite the pain and logistics nightmare of maneuvering the apparatus for 2 drips and 4 drains from bed to chair and was feeding her little baby. She then managed to find time to phone her dear old dad, me, 2 thousand kms away, to assure me that all was well. And she was still making jokes. I am in awe of the strength and bravery of women and mothers.

  • Posted August 24, 2013 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    That was an incredible post, Claire. Somehow, it managed to feel gentle while giving me a solid punch to the gut. I am going through so many of these same feelings right now as well, and it just about took the wind out of me to see these feelings put into print. Lovely and true and profound and simple. Thank you for that…

  • Jen in SC
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Oh, my God, I love this. How are you always in my brain and my heart? I feel such the same way about my two little girls, as what you describe.

    So glad to come back to your blog and see a few newer entries. I missed your writing.

    Congratulations!!!!! on your second book (-: I am so, so eager to read it.

  • Laura Young
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    As always, your words speak to my heart. You are so blessed to be able to put to words such beautiful thoughts. your daughters are so very lucky. Congrats on your second book! I can’t wait to read it.

  • Chris
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Claire…congratulations on your new book!!! Can’t wait to get my hands on it!! When will it be out? Trying to be brave at 47 years old when I travel to visit my daughter in London possibly by myself.

  • Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    So wonderful; your authenticity and brimming love. Everyone has fears don’t they; i’m convinced it’s walking through the grit that becomes like walking the mystical path with practical feet. You go girl; looking forward to your next book; Happy wondrous hours to you and your family.

  • Posted August 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful…I love your words. XO

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