To My Girl,
Thirteen. I can’t believe it. I can remember when I was 13. That’s how old 13 is, because you know my memory kinda stinks so if I can remember, it can’t be that far in the past!
When I was in high school my mom wasn’t the most effusive with her words of praise. Once or twice a year I’d go on a church retreat and she would be forced to write me a letter. In these letters, she told me how she felt about me and the person I was becoming. I still have each of these letters and they still melt my heart when I read them today.
After the first retreat, my mom always started each letter like this:
Well, another retreat another letter…
It used to make me laugh. She couldn’t just be sappy. She had to throw a little humour in. Now I understand what she meant. Every year, for many years, I have written you a letter on this blog for your birthday. Each year, they get a little bit harder to write. Not because there aren’t plenty of great things to say, but because I feel repetitive in my message. Quite simply, you continue to amaze me. All the spunk and confidence you had when you were six is still there.
You are still polite and kind and generous with your heart. I still want to spend my time with you because you are great company.
You are brave.
Sure, you are scared of ghost stories and scary movies, and riding a roller coaster is not your cup of tea. But that’s not the kind of brave that I mean. What I mean is that every year you age, you continue to be brave enough to stand for what you believe in, even when that is hard and even when what you believe in is you. That might be the hardest thing of all-standing up for you. You manage to do it though, and mostly you are humble about it. Even when you mess up and aren’t humble or generous or kind, you are never afraid to take responsibility and make things right.
The other day, you came to me to complain about a conversation with a friend. In the retelling of the story, I (maybe not so kindly) pointed out that perhaps you were the one who was wrong, and the friend was merely standing up to you. A switch for sure, and one that might have thrown you for a loop.
Instead of getting defensive. Instead of being mad at me (for very long), you spent some time alone, then apologized to your friend, and came to tell me how you worked it all out.
That is brave. Apologizing is brave. Taking responsibility and seeing when you are wrong is brave. Forgiving is brave.
Being yourself in the face of a world that wants you to conform is very brave. Allowing others to be themselves, even if it doesn’t always work for you? Well, that is the bravest of all.
So, another birthday another letter. I’m sorry if you feel like this is repetitive. I know when I was a kid, reading how much my mother was proud of me never got old. I hope you feel the same way.
Because I am so proud of you, there may never be enough birthdays for me to share how much.
Thank you for being you and never being afraid to share yourself with the world.
So much love,
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.
What wonderful tribute to your courageous daughter and her kind, loving and open-hearted mother! Way to go to both of you. Treading through the land mines of the mother daughter landscapes is hard. Sometimes we step on the bombs and blow it all up, but some glorious days we get to love each other with tender fierceness. Thank you for sharing one of those beautiful loving connected days!
Amy, Using Our Words says
Beautiful. Just like that brave, savvy, big-hearted girl you’ve raised.
Kimberly Coleman says
What a sweet note. Happy Birthday to your teenage girl!