Dear Jessica and Alison,
I have been an elected official since age 23, and I’ve accomplished many things—as an assemblyman, a congressman, and a senator. But by far, the greatest accomplishment I’ve achieved is the two of you. And my most cherished title is “Dad.”
You are both strong, intellectually driven women, much like your mother. I’ll never forget seeing you, Alison, for the very first time during your mother’s sonogram. I remember your fingers, your feet. I even saw you sucking on your tiny thumb. And when I saw the little flutter of that tiny heart, well, that was one of the most profound moments of my life.
Since then you have grown into a strong-willed, motivated, but most importantly kind person. You are incredibly thoughtful and loyal to the people in your life, and naturally they are drawn to you. You are comfortable with complicated ideas and in complicated social settings. You can do anything you want.
Alison, you have also always valued your independence. I remember one summer when you were three years old. Your mother and I thought we lost you at a very crowded outdoor restaurant. We panicked and were about to call the police when we found you sitting with another family, chatting and enjoying some of their French fries. I think back on this more frequently now that you live in San Francisco. Although you are far away, I know you are living a full and exciting life (and hopefully finding some good French fries).
Jessica, you have always been funny and empathetic, with a great work ethic. Your intelligence, both deep and practical, is amazing. Mom and I couldn’t reach you after the September 11th attacks, and because you were downtown at Stuyvesant High School, we were rightfully scared. Finally, after hours of waiting, your mom called to tell me that you been separated from your class during the school’s evacuation—because you stayed behind to help an elderly teacher down nine flights of stairs. I took a deep breath and leaned back against the fridge.
You see, as a dad, sometimes I have to lean back, hoping and praying that the two of you will be okay in this sometimes-scary world. And time and again, the two of you lean forward, showing me that you’re the independent, strong women that every dad hopes he will raise.
Every day I try to improve the lives of others. Whether I’m working on immigration, education, healthcare, crime reduction or women’s rights, I’m always fighting to make sure that we, as Americans, are safe from harm and have access to the resources we need to make a good life for our families. I hope that the work I’ve done has helped you live the life you want to live. And I hope that, as a father, I have given you the tools that will enable you to reach your goals and fulfill your dreams.
I have always believed it is harder for strong women to achieve than it is for men. But that makes strong and successful women the most interesting people in the world. I have observed this in the Senate, and I have observed it with both of you as you’ve matured.
I am so very lucky to have the two of you in my life. Thank you for your limitless patience, support and love. You are the rock of my life.