Willa for President

I didn’t need Hillary to win the election to prove to my daughter that girls can do anything. That hard work sometimes doesn’t lead to the results you want, but you must never give up. That the world isn’t her oyster; it’s a sea of all sorts of fish. Some of them are delicious and others will bite your face off.

My four year old is resilient. She brushes off skinned knees and girls who don’t feel like playing with her at birthday parties. She doesn’t wear shoes when she walks the gravel road to our tiny cabin. She picks up snakes, spiders, and bullfrogs and holds her little hand out to feed our 80-pound sheep. She’s also not afraid to ask for a hug when she needs one.


I know this because she is just like her mother.

She knows what it means to be strong. She’s watched me balance a full-time job, a toddler and another baby on the way while building our home for three years. She’s helped her father tear up floors and cabinets when we finished our last fixer upper. She (tries to) picks up her 25-pound baby brother when he’s crying or wants to be held before naptime.

She has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. She knows less than half the words to all of the songs she sings loudly, but makes up the lyrics as she goes. “Ridiculous” and “seriously” are two of her favorite words, and she uses them appropriately. She’s not afraid to keep me in check when I’ve been yelling too much at her brothers or—just when I need to hear it—says, “I love you.”

She has an appetite for life. Her favorite snack is pickled pigs feet. She is the first—and sometimes only—of our kids to try food like kimchi, spam and lobster. This summer our hotel had a twisted, teenage-filled outdoor water slide she asked if she could go down backwards. When her father plows the driveway in the dead of winter, she is the first to grab her boots.

She rocks her own style. Her go-tos are anything with Batman, rainbows or capes. She plays outside in princess dresses and loves to get dirty. She wears cowboy boots without socks like her mama. Sometimes she hangs in her underwear because she is comfortable in her own skin.

She is learning what it means to be kind. To pick toys to give away when she gets new ones. To turn the pages of the library book gently because “other kids will want to read this.” She knows not all kids have daddies and that families are different. She understands that some of her classmates can’t control their emotions and offers a hand on the playground.

She is independent to a point beyond reason. She doesn’t just pick what she wants for lunch, the girl makes her own sandwiches. She peels cucumbers, gets herself fully dressed and pours almond milk in a cup when she’s thirsty. When she spills something or the baby needs to wipe his nose, she takes care of business.

My daughter is tough as nails. She gets that from me, her dad, her insanely energetic brothers, her grandparents and preschool teachers. She is surrounded by incredible people who are lights on her path. Whatever her destination, whatever comes next—she is going to take on the world. My middle child—my only daughter—and thus, one of my greatest responsibilities.


 Photos by Shannon Ahlstrand Photography.

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(Non) Stay-at-home mama raising my three screaming cubs while restoring our 35-acres of wilderness just outside of Cleveland. Copywriter, sheep herder and fixer upper. I live in muck boots, jeans and wear dangling toddlers as accessories.

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