I knew what love was when I first laid eyes on you, but I didn’t know the magnitude and depth a heart could feel in one single instant. My heart exploded with gratitude, because I had never seen anyone more perfect, and I had truthfully been questioning God’s plan. I tangibly learned what a miracle was with you. He gave me (us) the greatest gift the day you were born, and I knew that we were made for eachother. When you were a baby I couldn’t even imagine you as an adult. I didn’t want to because I was savoring every single moment with you. You were a perfect little angel and everyday was filled with your firsts. I’m so grateful that I got to witness each and every one of them. You are a lady now, and you’ll continue to spread your wings. I’m quite certain that there will be many firsts to come in the next few years…I may not be there, physically, for all of them, which I look at with both sadness and pride. I do know, however, that you will do great things my love. Please know I will walk alongside of you and be cheering you on forever.
Dear Precious Daughter,
Today is your 18th birthday and although I will always hold onto the memories of the past, I SEE you right now, exactly where you are. I don’t want to be the parent who doesn’t want to see your younger years go, because I don’t want to waste a minute not witnessing the beautiful woman that you have become. You as a baby, as a toddler, a darling little princess, and even those partially gruelling pre/early teen years will always tug at my heart strings, but I feel the same about you today. You are beautiful-inside and out. You are strong. You are capable. You stand for something. You are creative. You are kind. You are loyal. You are resilient. You lead, because you have moral fiber unlike any other I know. You KNOW yourself, and you live accordingly. That’s more than so many people can say at such a young age. You are the consummate big sister, a caretaker, and self-proclaimed disciplinarian- I smile because I get how much you love them. You see the world in color, and you light everyone else’s because of it.
I talk until ‘I’m blue in the face’ about life, love, behavior etc… but I feel like my job isn’t completely done yet and for whatever reason I feel rushed to get it all out. I can’t believe we are here already! You’re 18- how did this happen so fast??? There is so much more that I want/need to say before you spread your wings further…(clearly today has me a little choked up- which I’m sure you’re enjoying). I used to joke about clipping those beautiful wings of yours, but I would never want to do that….because I can’t wait to continue to walk through life experiences beside you.
I wanted to share with you some realizations that I wish I knew when I was 18. Things that could have helped me navigate this path a little easier I think!
Your faith is your greatest treasure. I will always try to make any pain you feel better, to smooth out any bumps in the road, and to protect you from inevitabile hardships. The truth is that I would lay down my life to make yours better, but someone already did that for YOU. Lean on HIM, into HIM and let him ALWAYS walk beside YOU, because IN HIM you have freedom, joy and LOVE. He alone can ease your burden and wipe away your tears. You are NEVER alone with him in your heart. I will always be here for you too, but I’m human, and at times I may disappoint and anger you even though I never want to, but HE won’t. REMEMBER THAT FIRST AND FOREMOST.
Life is about LOVE. Money, status, power, fame, whatever it may be, are lonely if there is no real love and real relationships in it. By real love I don’t mean just romantic interest, I mean love your family, your friends, your neighbors with your whole being- and let them love you back. Pour into people, not things. While we’re talking about love, don’t ever be frightened by the risk of heartbreak, because the reward of deep and everlasting love is always going to be greater than the pain of a heartache! (I’ll have ice cream and a cozy blanket waiting if it ever happens.)
Remember always that God, not the world, made you. Be who he created you to be… YOU. Don’t fall into the trap that you have to fit inside of a neatly packaged, cookie cutter box, that looks and acts a certain way or believes a certain thing. Know how YOU like your eggs. Don’t change that for anything or anyone. Keep being YOU…. You are made perfectly, but you are not perfect… no one is…and you are not expected to be. Because of the fact that God made you… Be bold enough to know what is right from wrong and unafraid to stand for it. Sometimes standing for something can feel lonely, but being a facade is a desolate existence. Be true to yourself by being real. NO matter what the world tells you remember that you are lovable and of complete value. I love EXACTLY who you are, always.
Take care of yourself but don’t be selfish. Selfish people hold their gifts for their own benefit. Your gifts were given to you to share with others. Generously give of yourself and your resources in order to help to build others up. Over time your gifts may change or evolve… be unafraid to keep learning new skills and challenge your abilities so that you can continue to touch lives.
Be an encourager. Lift people up and give them hope in humanity. Listen to their words so that you can understand their heart. Empathy and compassion are needed to form meaningful relationships. Include people, for sure the ones you love, but also the hard ones. You can have profound impact on some of the most difficult people in your life.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Every closed door opens a brand new one. Look at obstacles as opportunity… solutions wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t problems in front of them. Keep reaching for positive solutions.
Say “YES” and take risks more often (as long as you’re not breaking the law or compromising your morals). Get out of your comfort zone and say yes. Yes to opportunity. Yes to people. Yes to experiences. Yes to life. Regrets can take a lifetime to get over….SAY YES!
I love you, but you are NOT always right. Be willing to accept loving criticism. Hear a different point of view. Understand that that doesn’t invalidate your point, but it opens your mind to greater possibility. Surround yourself with people (including your parents- ha) that will challenge you. You want to keep moving forward. Do NOT allow yourself to stay stagnate by seeking people that will tell you what you want to hear. Be willing to think about every situation from someone else’s perspective. You don’t always have to agree, but be respectful.
You’ll get what you’re seeking. Seek the butterfly. Even on our darkest days we must seek the goodness in life. LOOK FOR the sun to shine through the clouds and the rainbow at the end of the storm. If your focus is on the good, you will find some, no matter what situation you’re in. You WILL HAVE bumps and bruises, but in those are blessings and beauty. It may be hard to see at the time but keep looking for them. All of those things will be part of YOUR journey… don’t waste precious time looking for and/or expecting darkness… flutter like a butterfly and spread your beautiful color for the world around you to see. You will always be someone’s bright spot!
Silence truly is a virtue. You can’t unsay things that you say. Your words have meaning for true good, AND true bad, and we as women seem to have power in words. When in doubt, breathe and remain silent for a bit. Listen. Use your tongue to enhance relationships and build foundations, not to destroy them. Your words speak to your heart’s rhythm, so make sure that what you are conveying is a direct reflection of who you are. “Sorry” is a powerful word- don’t be afraid to use it, and remember that it should rarely be attached to an excuse.
Lastly, one of the biggest things I can tell you, teach you, want to knock you over the head with and make you KNOW, is that no matter how big the problem, mistake, the fear, the belief, the whatever…. it’s never too big for us all to navigate together. We love you no matter what. We are here and will help you- NO MATTER WHAT. Love yourself, just as we ABSOLUTELY love you
My sweet girl, you were, always have been, and always will be mine, because God prepared our paths perfectly. Keep doing what you’re doing because your smile lights a room and your spirit melts a heart. You changed me and so many others lives that day you were born. A change that I am infinitely grateful for. Your beautiful life gave me the gift of motherhood, but your beautiful soul breathes life into so much more! The world is your canvas. Create your masterpiece.