No other moment in my life has been as significant, as life-altering, as all-encompassing than the moment of your birth. You came into this world and simultaneously the old me left it; with your entrance into this life, I became a mother. Nothing, not one other thing, has so defined me. For the last thirteen years, we’ve been inextricably bound – mother and daughter – figuring it out together as we go along. But I know that my existence as the center of your world is waning. You will eventually define your life apart from me, and that’s how it should be. Always, though, my most important evolution will have begun with you.
You’re a teenager now. Officially and for real. You. Are. 13. I know how much you love that, you big dork.
It’s simply incomprehensible, although it also feels like there’s no way you’ve only been around for thirteen years.
You are funny and irreverent. You are incredibly intelligent. You are dramatic and, truth be told, melodramatic. You see the truth in a way that often surprises me, and you thankfully are not all drawn in by the pitfalls of teenager-hood. At least, not yet. You stay above the fray more often than not, a fact for which I am truly grateful. Good lord, may that continue over the next few years.
You’re you. You’re totally and fully finding yourself and it is awesome to watch. I love you. But I also really, really like you. That’s important.
I so vividly remember being your age that it’s hard for me to believe that my baby is thirteen. I hope that my memories and opinions about what was good and what was bad about my teenage years will help me help you navigate yours. I know I cannot and should not shield you from the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager, but I hope that I can be for you the person you need to help you get through it all relatively unscathed.
The next few years will absolutely be a defining time in your life. You will find your tribe, and although the members may change over the years, I believe that the people who guide you through your teenage years have an impact on your life unlike almost any other people you’ll ever know. If it’s a good time for you, you’ll meet adulthood well-prepared.
My most fervent hope is that you will surround yourself with people who GET you, who know what is truly important, and who will help you figure out who you are yourself.
I also know that we are, by nature, coming into years when you might pull away and I might try to cling too close. I hope that by being cognizant of that, I can minimize any potential disasters.
I also hope you understand that regardless of what you WANT me to do, I will be your mother first and your friend way, way, way down the line. You’re still a kid. My kid. Even if you are a teenager.
I think that our decision to move to England has been really good for you. You’ve already found people who get you, you’ve experienced a new culture and had to adjust to massive change, and so you’re better prepared for the changes to come. We’ve had some really amazing adventures that I hope will become a foundation for you to build a life on.
You are, though, even at thirteen, my little girl. You will probably never not be. I truly enjoy spending time with you, regardless of what we’re doing, and I hope it will always be so. You’re an excellent and skilled cook, great fun on an adventure, and a fantastic shopping partner. You are able and willing to talk about books and movies with me that no one else in this house has a real interest in reading or watching, and I truly appreciate that. Like I said, I like you a lot.
You are the apple of your father’s eye, and such a funny little thorn in his side sometimes. I love watching your relationship. You are far more like me than you are your dad, and seeing the two of you square off makes me laugh inside every time. You challenge him – to be more sensitive, to be more patient, to be more willing to understand the challenges and intricacies of a girl. And he challenges you – to be stronger than you think you are, to back up your opinions with facts and thoughtful arguments, to not fall victim to your own drama. It’s lovely. I love you two.
And your brothers are the exact people you need in your life to bring you back to earth. My very, very favorite thing is to watch the four of you play together, independent of your dad and I, whether it’s soccer, whiffle ball, poker, or a board game. I hope that your relationships with each of your brothers remains as strong in the future as they are today. You guys share a childhood with memories and experiences that no one else will ever understand. They get you in a way that no one else ever will, and you get them. Stay friends.
My god, you are thirteen. I cannot even believe it.
Please know that,no matter what ever happens, I am so grateful to be your mother. You are the thing that changed my life, the person who made me me, and for that I am forever grateful. And as the person who MADE you, please know that my greatest wish is that you live a life you love and you know that you are adored and appreciated every step of the way.
Happy birthday, baby girl. Happy thirteenth.