An entire decade has passed since you arrived in this world. How is that possible?
When you were born, I was a terrified almost twenty two year old. I didn’t have a five minute plan, yet alone a five year plan. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, how I was going to make it all work. And yet…here you were. And it was as if somehow, with your first breath you also whispered my purpose out loud. You were mine and I was yours. And that was it. The rest would somehow get figured out.
And so it has.
I have a feeling that the next ten years are going to be tougher for us than the last ten. It is often that way for mothers and daughters. So far, I have watched your first smile, your first steps, seen you off to your first day of kindergarten (with quite an impressive entourage, might I add). I tried (pretty unsuccessfully) to hide my disgust at your first wiggly tooth, tasked someone else with teaching you how to ride a bike without training wheels (thanks, Shawn), had you right next to me as I married the man of our dreams and have absolutely adored watching you become a big sister. But the next ten years? There are even bigger challenges (and adventures!) ahead. We will navigate middle school. High School. College. I will watch you get your drivers license and have your heart broken. You will disappoint me (and I will surely disappoint you) and make me proud, probably in the same day. But I think that the joys will be bigger too. If I have learned anything being your Mama, it is that you will continue to surprise and delight me. And that we will keep learning and growing together.
This year you have spent lots of time figuring out all of the particular things that you love. You tried surf camp and discovered you were actually awesome at it- standing up on the board on your first try and later that day, catching a football while surfing on a wave. Your softball team won the championships and you were described as the “small but mighty Grace” at the trophy ceremony. You fell in love with Hamilton and we surprised you with tickets for Christmas. I will need to see the show again, because I spent most of the play watching you instead- I have always known that live theater was part magic and seeing you experience that for yourself was incredible. You are grown up in ways I sometimes have a hard time wrapping my head around and become more independent from me with each passing day. We are similar in many ways (disorganized voracious readers with soft, empathetic hearts) but also so different. You have a hard time verbalizing your emotions (where I want to talk— or write— everything to death) and I am still trying to understand how to navigate this as your emotions get bigger and more significant. You want to be a scientist or a teacher. Your comedic timing continues to be impeccable, but your brand of humor is becoming dry and sarcastic. It is honestly one of my favorite new developments. You can spend hours quietly occupying yourself, only to come downstairs and ask to snuggle. Although I know the growing of our family is hard for you sometimes and you may have even wished it would go back to the way it was before, with just the three of us (not that you would ever admit that out loud), you never act jealous of your brother and the way that you adore him is a true lesson in unconditional love. You have always been an “old soul” and sometimes share such pointed and sophisticated observations about the world around you that I’m not even quite sure how to respond.
We have all heard about the literal pain of childbirth. The agony of contractions and all the pushing. But there is less said about the emotional pain, that starts the moment the cord is cut. It is the first act in letting go. What was once one is now and forever two. The entire experience is as downright brutal as it is beautiful. Motherhood continues on, much the same. With each year that passes, I find myself stuck somewhere in between pushing you forward and clinging on to you tightly just as you are. But I remind myself that each push (no matter how painful) is bringing us toward something marvelous and unknown.
This letter to you sounds sadder than I meant it to. Even as I write, I have tears threatening to topple on to my cheeks at any moment. But what I want you to understand is that they are the bittersweet but also happy tears of a mother who is just so proud of her daughter. Of who you have become (and continue to become) both because of me and in spite of me. I am grateful to stand on the sidelines of your life, forever your greatest cheerleader. You are kind and fierce and smart. And please also understand this- whatever adventures and trials the next decade (and more) brings to us- my love for you can never be wiped away by any words or actions. I remind you constantly that all my rules, all my nagging- I do it because I want what is the best for you, because I’m trying to ultimately make things easier for you, not just to be mean (or “the worst”- the dagger you hurl when you are really REALLY unhappy with me). Let’s unravel and traverse this whole growing up thing together, just like we always have- okay? I am so thankful that I get to be yours…just like I was in those very first moments.
You are the very best thing to happen to your Mama. Always.