This one was harder to write because I know you read them now. These were supposed to be letters that I gathered when you were 18 to show you that every year I stopped for a moment to reflect on what a gift your life is. But then, you discovered this blog and somehow knowing you’re reading these in real-time makes it that much harder. But, like my mother before me, I am much better at sharing my love in writing than I am in real life, so here we go-for better or worse-your birthday letter.
Twelve. You turned twelve last week and you have such an active life I didn’t have time to sit down and write you this because I was busy getting you from place to place all day. It’s ok though. I wouldn’t change any of it.
I wouldn’t change the carpooling to soccer and theater tryouts because I love how well-rounded you are to try both. You are courageous enough to go after what you want no matter how far out of your comfort zone it may be. From birth, you have had an enthusiasm for life that is enviable. Nothing in the last 12 years has diminished that. No amount of criticism or struggle has made you sad or angry. You just dust yourself off from each fall and head back into the trenches to continue creating the life of your dreams.
You are a pleasure and an inspiration to watch.
I wouldn’t change the hours I spent in the store last Friday trying to buy you a new iPhone or the dirty looks I get now that I did. I know I said forever and ever that we would wait until high school. I know I SWORE I would never buy you a smart phone. But you’ve never asked for one. You’ve never complained about getting whatever we decided to give you-even if it was nothing at all. You are grateful for all that you have and that, my friend, goes a long, long way. Also, you use that beat up old iPod to facetime all your aunts and cousins and I find it so endearing that I couldn’t buy you a phone that would discontinue that communication. I love that you chat with my sisters and call dad’s sister and her baby without us even knowing. Those relationships, the ones outside of mom and dad, they will grow more and more important as you get older and I want to do everything in my power to keep them going.
So, if you get a hard time about being spoiled, just smile and know that nothing could be farther from the truth. If I get a hard time for giving in and ruining it for all the other parents who are waiting to buy their kids phones of any kind, then I’ll take a lesson from you and move along, content in the knowledge that I made the best decision for us and no one else’s opinion much matters. You taught me that.
Finally, I wouldn’t change our late night burger-joint birthday dinner or the homemade cake that was four days late. You know why? Because both of those things, burgers and an ugly but delicious cake, seem to be symbols of my relationship with you. It’s not perfect, and sometimes it’s not pretty, but man does it feed my soul and make me so, so happy no matter what it looks like to anyone else.
I hoped and dreamed when you were a baby that you’d grow up and be exactly who you are: an independent, ferociously kind, spirited young lady who still likes to hang out with her mom.
Here’s to many more years of sharing iTunes mixes and ugly cakes.
I love you Baby Girl, every last inch of your 12 year old self.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.