I know. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.
And I totally wrote that title right after promising myself I wouldn’t write anything too embarrassing here. So much for good intentions.
Let’s get straight to the point. It’s your birthday! Which means I get to write you another letter and say all the things.
This is my reward for the twelve hours of horrible labor and the five a.m. feedings and that one time when you were two that you bit me on the chin. Now once a year I get to say whatever I want, and not even your expert eye-rolling can stop me.
So here’s what I want to say. I want to say that you are on the right path. I want to say that you are one of my favorite people. I want to say that you do not know as much as you think you do. I want to say that that’s actually really good. I want to say that you are quite a bit like me. I want to say sorry for that and also you’re welcome. I want to say that I’m excited about who you are and about what your life is going to be.
And I want to say, no, you can’t have cake before dinner, even though it’s your birthday, but I will possibly let you eat a piece for breakfast sometime. Don’t try to figure it out. I’m an enigma, given to you by God to keep your life from being too predictable.
First things first: You have chosen wisely. Out of a loud world full of millions of options of places to put your love and ways to fill your time, you have chosen Jesus and family and friends and books and softball and The X Files. You have chosen to submit your will to the authority of those who love you, even though it was strong as iron and you could have clung to it stubbornly. You have chosen to build relationships, to apologize and change the subject and make jokes and laugh at them, even though you are clever enough to rip apart with your words and hot-tempered enough to want to.
None of those things are over and done with, of course. Choosing your life path doesn’t work like that; you can’t decide it once and for all. Instead you have to make the right choices day after day, over and over, forever. And sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you won’t. But so far God is helping you make the right choices more often than the wrong ones, and that’s how you know you’re headed the right direction. Because every time you choose wisely, it’s easier to choose wisely the next time.
Now where were we? Oh yeah. I like you. A lot. You are funny and interesting. You have good taste. You pay attention to what’s happening around you and you understand things. You get it, and it’s awesome.
It’s no secret that I was pretty worried about the whole idea of having a daughter before I had you, but you’ve changed all of that completely. Just a little something to remember when God ignores your fears and worries. He’s got this amazing thing you could not imagine and he’s not going let your lack of imagination stop him from giving it to you. Because He is like that.
Which brings us to how you don’t know everything. Don’t get me wrong, you are really smart. Sometimes your innate brightness is startling. And you are growing up, figuring a lot of stuff out, having new experiences and learning so, so much. You have all the confidence that youth and energy and the hard work of your Papi and I could possibly give you. Which is just as it should be. I’m just going to say this now and leave it out there for the next couple of decades to bring it back around.
Life is an endless series of opportunities to learn how little you know.
I say this from my own painful experience. Being your mom (and Scott’s and Lucy’s) has showed me my own ignorance every single day. This is good. I am better when I remember that I am not God, and that I need him every second or I’m going to screw it all up.
You can try to deny that fact and bluster through life more full of yourself than you should, or you can let that terrify you into not attempting the things that you should, or you can just accept it as the reality that it is and get on with things. There’s no need to be afraid of being wrong and there’s no need to be ashamed of the mistakes you make. There’s only a need to face those things with your eyes open and let them change you and grow you.
Okay, now I said it. We can go back to you ignoring that for another few years.
The reason I know you’ll ignore what I just said is that you are so very like me. Not a copy, by any means. Just an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Not enough like me that I don’t need to listen and try hard to understand you. Just enough like me that I recognize what I’m seeing and can get it when I need to.
So. For the instinct to force everyone to just do what you want and the occasional violent urges when they won’t, for the fear of letting other people down and the worry about what other people think, for the tendency to get overly absorbed in your latest interest and the habit of leaving things unfinished when that interest is gone, I am truly sorry. And for the thrill of getting lost in a wonderful new idea and the fun of really witty conversation, for the ability to see reason and to think fairly about yourself and others, for the drive to constantly get better and the determination to master yourself, not to mention for the fanstastic sense of humor, you’re welcome.
So that’s all of it, then, except the part where I say how proud I am to be your mom and how excited I am to see what becomes of you. Unpredictable possibilities have always been my happy place, and that is exactly what you are.
Anything could happen from here. I can’t wait.
P.S. I shouldn’t end without saying it: Growing up is hard. I know, and I’m sorry. We’ll try to make it as smooth as we can, but nothing can change the fact that it often sucks. That’s why there are friends and journals and pillows to punch and moms to cry on and sometimes, only sometimes, cake for breakfast. (And now I’ve brought it full circle. 4 points for me.)