To My Little Girl on Her Very Grownup Birthday,
It’s hard not to think of this birthday without a little nostalgia. We are at a time of transition and the feeling that this may be the last time you opt to hang with me on your special day is very strong. Last weekend, we went to visit a potential high school for you and it was in that moment that the reality of Fourteen hit home.
Your dad used to say, when you were very small, that he had a hard time grasping how the baby he held in his arms would one day also be the 4th grader or 8th grader that would share his home. I was just the opposite. I held that sweet baby in my arms and hoped and prayed she would turn into the 8th grade daughter that I imagined her to be just based on her amenable, sunshiney, chatty baby disposition.
I am here to tell you that you have exceeded all of my expectations. Not only do you continue to be amenable and full of light, but you have also proven to be unflappable in your convictions and doggedly determined to look at the world through a lens of positivity even while you acknowledge the bad and work so hard to change it for the better.
I braced myself for the teen years that everyone warns you about. I waited for the surly, argumentative kid that would overtake my sweet little girl come puberty. Yet, while you’re clearly growing up before my very eyes, your heart and soul remain unchanged. You are polite and funny and know exactly when to reel in the sass. You are not afraid to use your voice and stand up for what you think is important. You’ve taken some hits, but nothing keeps you down for long.
“I just don’t understand why people complain so much.” and “It’s just too exhausting being negative.” are oft repeated phrases that come from your mouth. Which, given the average life of a kid in junior high, is a pretty remarkable attitude to have maintained.
I am so proud of you. I know we say that a lot, but I am afraid the depth of its meaning is lost. I want, no, I need you to know that dad and I adore you, but also are so proud of you and all that you stand for so much that it physically hurts. While you are soft and warm in all the right ways, you are also fierce in the sense that you refuse to be broken. Your spirit is light and kind and open to share all the love with everyone you meet, and you will not allow the world to dampen that, no matter how much it tries.
That, my friend, may be the secret to life, never letting anyone dull your sparkle. And you have discovered it at 14.
I know that soon you will meet all new people in high school and the days where you choose me on Friday night will be no longer. But I want you to know now that I have loved this time so much (even if I am constantly reminding you to chew with your mouth closed, wash your hair, and please don’t lay all over me). I consider these days a bonus of motherhood.
Dad said once the best compliment he ever got from his own dad was when Gamps said he would hang out with dad if they were the same age. I feel that way about you, kid. We’d be good friends, you and I, if I were 14 too. You’re just the kind of person I would want in my life. Loyal, kind, confident, silly, not afraid to share yourself with the world, and sure to change it for the better.
So, as you spread your wings and fly off to new adventures less and less tethered to me, know that I will always be home to welcome you whenever you need it. Know that I admire and adore you. Know that even if we’re not 14 year old peers, I will always have your back like the best kind of friend (even if you chew too loud).
I love you (Or ILY as the kids say.)
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