Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Wow!! I am officially the mother of a teenager! You have reached one of the first big milestones in your life, and it's bittersweet for me as I watch you, my firstborn daughter, shift into that space, somewhere between childhood and womanhood. This time in your life is full of choices and changes. Some of these changes are exciting; some will feel uncertain and a little scary. You're going to make some mistakes along the way, but that's all part of growing up. Don't ever be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake, and never regret anything that happens in your life. Your past cannot be changed, forgotten or undone, but you can learn from your mistakes and use every new day as a second chance to do better. You will never have to go through anything alone. I am always right with you, I am here to help you whenever and however I can, and I am always ready to catch you when you fall. I've accepted, though, that the times are coming when you won't always need or want me around anymore, and that's okay. I want you to be independent and live out your own dreams, and I know there will be many moments still that you will need and want me with you. For those times, and every other time in between, I will never be far - always right beside you, every step of the way. Please try to be patient with me when I don't seem to know what I'm doing, and I'll do the same for you, because at the same time you are learning how to be a teenager, I'm learning how to be the mother of one. This is all new for me too, and I'm excited to see how our relationship will change and grow as we enter this new chapter together. I hope we can always keep our lines of communication open and that you know you can talk to me about anything and everything. I may not always agree with you, but I value your opinion and I want to hear what you have to say. I will always listen with open ears, an open mind and an open heart. I will never judge you or make you feel ashamed of your feelings, decisions or mistakes. It wasn't very long ago I was a teenager myself, so I understand the things you are going through more than you may think. Be brave enough to ask for help when you don't know which way to turn. I'm here to guide and support you always. I am certain that you can do anything you set your mind to, because you are filled with endless potential for greatness, no matter which path you choose. I know that sometimes you may feel like you already know everything. You know the important things for sure. You know to be generous and kind; to stand up for others; to hold yourself accountable for what you've done - both right and wrong, and to always be honest, because you've learned the consequence for getting caught in a lie is far worse than telling the truth upfront. You know to try new things; to enjoy good food, to enjoy a good book, and to enjoy a good laugh. You know to say "please" and "thank you"; to offer your help to anyone who needs it. You know the importance of family, and the meaning of a true friend. But there are plenty of things you don't know yet and will learn along the way. The biggest thing to learn is that there will always be more to learn, no matter how old or smart you are. Never stop searching for knowledge. Be wise in knowing what you don't know, and if you don't know the answer, ask. Learn the facts, but never allow other's opinions to take up residence in your mind. Do your own research; form your own opinions. It's the best way to grow. You still have so much to explore, and I am excited to see where it all takes you. The beauty that life has in store for you is beyond anything you can imagine. There is so much to look forward to and you may feel ready to grow up and put your childhood behind you now, but I ask that you don't run away from it just yet. You still have a few good years of being a kid left in you. You will have the rest of your life to be an adult, so until then, take it slow. Don't rush through life always waiting for the good parts to come. They're happening every day! I pray that you see yourself as I see you. Beautiful. Funny. Confident. Gentle. Brilliant. Kind. Generous. Creative. Compassionate. Strong. I pray that you know how much I love you, even when we're fighting and you think that you hate me. I hope that you can remember that I have your best interest at heart, will do anything for you and would never do anything to intentionally hurt you. No one in this world will ever love you the way I love you. Find the good in people and look for the silver lining and humor in every situation. Laughter is the best medicine and a positive attitude is infectious. When things aren't going well, keep reminding yourself "this too shall pass." No matter how mad you are, or how sad you may feel, it will not last forever. Certain losses, though, will impact you for the rest of your life, but time does heal pain. I promise. Whatever you decide to do in life, make sure it makes you happy. Do something every day that you love. Be true to yourself. Go your own way, and walk away from anything, or anyone, who no longer serves you, grows you, respects you or makes you happy. Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten. Have fun, and a lot of it. Be kind and laugh often, but not at the expense of others. Be grateful for your blessings and enjoy them, but don’t forget to help others who are not as fortunate. Don't hold grudges. Life is way too short to constantly be mad at someone. Everyone makes mistakes, so let things go and be forgiving, but distance yourself from negativity. Just because you forgive someone, it doesn't mean they deserve to stay in your life. Don't make time for mean girls, and don't be one. Always remember you have bigger things to worry about than wasting time or energy on people who treat you badly. Ignore them. You can't change the way people treat you, you can only change the way they make you feel. You are in charge of your life and how you feel about yourself. Surround yourself with people who you like and who like you... And always be yourself. It’s better to feel happy and content in a small group - or even alone - than to feel empty and lonely in a big crowd. Be confident enough not to follow the crowd, as tempting as it may be, because most of the time, all those cool kids are simply too afraid or too weak to be more than a just a follower. In my eyes, you are beautifully perfect in every way. Take pride in presenting yourself in the best possible light, through your words, your actions and your appearance. Take care of your appearance and your mental well being. A heathy body and a healthy mind are the key to living a long, happy life. Work hard, and just when you think you’ve worked as hard as you possibly can for something, work a little bit harder. Going the extra mile in everything you do will set you apart from all the rest. Never stop learning. Enjoy everything you've accomplished, big or small. Believe in yourself, because if you don’t believe in you, you will never convince anyone else to. Show the world all that you have to offer! Let them see what I have always seen in you - greatness and love. And please, don’t be envious of others. Someone is always going to have more than you may have or be better than you at certain things. Just worry about doing the best that you can do. It's enough. You're enough. Always put your family first. When it really counts, your family will always love and support you no matter what. It is my hope that you, George and Norah will always be close and take care of each other, even when you’re grown and long after daddy and I are gone. Always set a good example for each other. Be each other’s cheerleaders and raise each other up. Support one another. Talk to each another. Listen. Be there when they need you, and they'll be there for you. It's true what they say - blood is thicker than water. Nurture the bond that you have, and take care of each other, always. When the time comes I pray one day you will find a man, more kind and loving than you could have ever imagined, and that he’ll love you as much as I do. Be selective and careful with whom you entrust your heart. It's your most beautiful gift to give, and anyone you share it with will be a better person for it. You may fall in and out of love several times in life, and each time will be different. When it doesn't work out, don't let heartbreak discourage you, harden you or keep you guarded. Let your guard down, keep your heart open and remember how being in love feels. When your heart is telling you it's right, let yourself fall madly and deeply in love, but don't let love change who you are, or who you want to be. Don't settle for anything less than you deserve or allow yourself to be put last in any relationship. Giving your heart to someone and sharing in their happiness shouldn't take away from your own. I hope that you find a man that will love you for who you are today and tomorrow and forever. You have a beautiful light inside of you that I admire so much. Never allow anyone to extinguish it; find someone who will nourish that fire and make it shine brighter. I see you becoming an amazing mother someday. You have a patient, gentle heart that makes you a natural, and your children will know how lucky they are to have you as their mother. Seeing your baby's face for the first time will take your breath away. Trust me, I know. It will be in that moment you finally understand just how deeply I have loved you and will always love you. Most importantly, remember nothing in life is guaranteed. Tomorrow is promised to no one, so never take anything or anyone for granted. Be thankful for your blessings and tell your loved ones that you love them, every chance you get. Sometimes it seems like yesterday that I was holding you in my arms for the first time, but when I think of all that you and I have been through, it amazes me that it's only been 13 years. Even before you were born, from the moment I knew you existed, I have loved you more than I ever thought possible. You teach me more about my own life and make me want to be a better person. You are a blessing to everyone fortunate enough to have met you, and you make me proud to be your mother every single day. Happy 13th birthday, Abby. I love you.