Every year I promise myself I will begin to pen this letter to you weeks in advance of your birthday and yet, every year I’m sitting in front of a blank page just hours before the calendar flips to the day your were born.
Every year, I’m certain all of the feelings I have for you, all of the wishes I wish, all of the dreams I hope….they will magically flow from my heart to my fingertips to paper. And yet, here I am, once again….sitting, finding it close to impossible to put YOU – great big, extraordinary YOU in to words.
I’ve looked back over a few of the letters I’ve written you and I think YES….THAT MAGIC . And THOSE LESSONS. And I hope this letter will be possessed of the same heart by the time I’m finished…I hope you will feel the same love in my words as you read.
Every day, I am learning from you and every day I hope to be the guide you need as you set the bar for who you want to be as you grow up. In honor of your last pre-teen birthday, here is a list of lessons I’ve learned from you and a few I hope you are learning from me.
12 Lessons Shared Between Mother and Daughter
From you, Small Girl, to Me.
Laughter is the Best Medicine: Of course your smile lights up the room, but it is your laughter, your spunk, the sense of humor you get from your daddy….good heavens – your goofy faces (also a gift from your daddy) that can take a mood from dreary to delightful. You have a knack for knowing when to make people laugh – and you have taught me when to let go and giggle.
Kids Can be Teachers, too: When we list the ‘teachers’ you will have in life, we often think about parents (hey – that’s me and your daddy), the teachers you have in school and the mentors you’ll find later in life, but Mini, you are, by far, one of my greatest teachers – and so is Coop. You remind me every day that I still have so much to learn and some of my most important lessons are found in the quiet moments in our very own home. Thank you.
Different is Divine: You love your freckles. You loved having braces. You love your glasses. You have never once hesitated to embrace anything that might make you a little ‘different’ from the kids around you and I love it. Not only do you recognize differences in yourself as strengths and embrace them as qualities that make you unique, you feel the same about qualities like these in others. That is special and important for everyone I know to remember.
It is Ok to Say No: It is not uncommon for me to say ‘yes’ so often that my schedule and work load are overwhelming. You, on the other hand, say ‘no’ when you are tired, ‘no’ when you don’t want to play, ‘no, thank you’ if you are not hungry. You are not impolite, but you – simply by being you – are a small girl example of what it means to set boundaries in life.
Being Uncomfortable Can be Cool: How many times have I sat on the sidelines and watched you, your dad and your brother play one sport or another? Too many to count, right? You know I don’t play because I’m uncomfortable, because I feel uncoordinated and unathletic – but YOU still encourage me, still invite me, still want me to join in and cheer when I make a play. You remind me that it can be cool (and fun) to take the plunge and allow myself to feel uncomfortable.
Treat Yourself as You Would Treat Your Daughter: You have taught me to do my best to be a living example for you. I want you to grow up knowing it is possible to have a career you love and a family you prioritize. I want you to see me as a mother who adores her children and who never stopped aiming to be ‘who she wanted to be when she grew up’. You have taught me how important it is that I aim to show you what happy looks like – on most days.
From Me to You:
Be you – Twelve years ago today, this glorious bundle of goodness rocked my world. She had a full head of dark brown hair, chocolate brown eyes and a not one single freckle. In the last dozen years, she has exploded into a tornado of independence and opinions, wit and funny faces, curiosity and intelligence, athleticism and heart, friendship and compassion and too many beautiful freckles to count. Like all pre-teens, you are forging a path – one that is spiked with opinions and outside influences. I want you to remember that whoever you choose to be, whatever path you follow in life, it is yours. You are not me, your dad, Cooper, your grandparents or your friends. While we will always be here as a sounding board and we (especially before you are an ‘adult’) will guide you and offer advice, we love that you are uniquely you. You have your own opinions, interests and heart. Follow them.
Work hard: Here it comes – that quote I simply love….”Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” I know you’ve heard me say it over and over again, but I believe it in my soul. There will be a million people in the world who have ‘more’…than you….whether its height, speed, talent on the on softball field or basketball court, a gift for mathematics or art, or just money….but only you can control your heart and hustle.
Keep Your Curiosity Sharp: You have always been inquisitive, but as you are growing and learning more about the world, you have had more questions. Keep asking them, Baby Girl. Keep furrowing your brow when you don’t like what you hear. Keep pushing for the answers. Make the adults around you think about the things that are important to you. Your heart, your opinions and your voice matter.
There is Magic in Possibilities: From the time you were a toddler, I could see the magic in your eyes. There is a sparkle that exists in a child who believes anything is possible. You have always been one of those kids. Now, you’d think that the sparkle would dull as you age, and in many it does. I have yet to see it happen to you. You still believe you can if you try. This is a gift I would like to see you hold dear. Keep believing in magic, Small Girl.
It is Hard to be Loved: I love, adore, and treasure the relationship you and I have now. I’m incredibly grateful for the gift of your confidence and while I hope you will long trust me as someone you can continue to confide in, I am aware there may be a day you will not agree with my decisions as your mom. I want you to always remember that I (and your dad) won’t make decisions based on what is popular, or what ‘everyone else is doing’, but rather based on what we believe is best for YOU. We love you, and sometimes, it is hard to be loved.
I’m on Your Team: When you were tiny, I can remember being in awe at the pure tiny of your paw in mine. As your push in to your first teenage year, I know I won’t always be able to hold your hand, but little girl, I will ALWAYS be on your team. I won’t always have all the answers, we may not always agree, but I promise you can count on me to be standing at your shoulder, supporting you.
Mini, Punky, Small Girl, Delaney – you are so very loved.
Thank you for holding my hand as we navigate this mother-daughter journey together.
Thank you for allowing me grace when I make mistakes, for teaching me the true definition of patience, for guiding me through motherhood and being part of the heartbeat of our family.
You are a gift.
You have my heart, always.
Happy, happy birthday Baby Girl.