Day 187- A Letter to My Daughter on Her 13th Birthday...
Updated: May 8, 2020
Happy 13th Birthday to my beautiful daughter, Grace!
I can’t believe it has been 13 years! It seems to have flown by, seems like just yesterday she was this tiny, wide eyed little girl. She was so sweet from day one. Just easy. Except, if I walked away from her...then she cried this horrible, pitiful cry that always made me come running back. She learned to crawl early just so that she could get to me. And it has pretty much always been this way.
Today she crosses the threshold from childhood to adulthood. Today she is no longer a child, today she becomes this other creature that is not well understood by adults...a teenager. We will get through it though because what other choice do we have?
Actually, our relationship is much like that my mom and I had/have. We have always been close. I never knew how close until my friends commented on how much she tells me, how much she involves me in her life. I didn’t know, I thought that all girls told their moms about dating, alcohol, drugs and drama. But apparently, I am very lucky and privileged to be on the inside here. I thank my girlfriends for the insight, I have always been grateful about our relationship...but now I get the gratitude on an even deeper level.
I thought the best use of today’s blog would be to write her a letter from my former 13 year old self. Tell her all the things I know now, that I could have really used then....here goes.
My Funny, Beautiful Gray,
I named you Grace because you are my undeserved merit. You and your brother are the best thing I have ever done. Being your mom is a privilege and gift. I am so incredibly grateful to be your mom, every day. Thank you for being such a wonderful person. Thank you for picking me to be your mom.
Today, you cross over into the in-between years of no longer being a child, not quite an adult. I remember this time to be frustrating. I felt compelled to grow up but was delayed in pretty much every way. I was a “late bloomer” and prayed for boobs every day for like five years. But today I am so grateful for the delay. That my physical maturity took its sweet time in arriving. It put me out of the frey with boys for a little longer. I can see now that this was a very good thing. I know you are dying to develop into what you see all your friends developing into, but trust me, you can wait. You can enjoy the lack of womanhood for a little longer. Savor it. Looking back now, it was one of the best times in my life. I was not ruled my hormonal imbalances, not tied to the opinion of others, especially boys...looking back, it was a great time that I failed to enjoy because I focused on all that I lacked and in so doing, I completely failed to see all that I had.
What I had was integrity, interest, a love of outdoors, animals, close, intimate friendships with people who had my back. I had a sense of self. I liked who I was even though I doubted that I was good enough for the peer group I ran in. I was happy. I was carefree until I allowed the opinion of others to lock me down and make me so unhappy.
I allowed my maturational delay to make me feel less than. I saw what 13 year old boys were looking for - boobs and a butt (yes, it was the same back then) and I allowed that to become the yardstick with which I measured myself. Which is debatedly fine I guess, but then I failed to get a new yardstick for like 30 years...please, don't do that.
I allowed my externality to become the thing that I worked on and cared about the most, while the interiority suffered. I said and did things that I was not really ok with. I went places and dated people who were not good for me, didn’t really care about me and were not worthy of me. I cheapened myself, all because I didn’t feel like I had what the boys wanted.
Please, please, please don’t do that. You will get boobs and a butt. They will come in good time. I hope you will see that they are just part of your container. And while the container for your life is important, it will never hold a candle to what is inside you. That is the place you dwell, not in your body, your clothes, hair or things that you have. It isn’t Gucci belts and Jeffree Star makeup that really add anything to your life. It is who you are on the inside. No matter what, be your own yardstick. Do not ever let anyone else tell you who you should be...not even me.
You are a bright light that is full of grace. You are beautiful, insightful and compassionate. You are an empath. A little about that...my sensitive girl. The world is hard and cruel sometimes, but there is always goodness, you just have to look for it, sometimes very hard.
These hard and difficult things are going to cut you deeply and you may feel like you cannot overcome them, but you can. Your ability to feel is your superpower. It is the thing that you do best, every day. The best use of your life is to channel the sensitivity and make it work for you, never wish it away. It is your birthright. It is your gift to yourself and all those you meet. That empathy you feel for the injured bird, the kid outcast, the unfairness of the fight, these are the things that make life worth living...being able to feel them with your whole self is the blessing, not the curse. Pain can make you wince and turn away, and that is a way to live life. However, I have learned that leaning into the pain is better. It lessens the pain by leaning in and increases the ability to feel joy. Resistance is futile when it comes to feeling. You are a feeler and, please, accept that this most amazing treasure, it is yours to further develop or let wither, your choice always.
You, my sweet, kind beautiful soul, are a light bearer. You take light and love wherever you go. You see what you can add, then do it almost without effort. You are not a shade caster. As you enter adolescence, there is a natural tendency to rebel and cast shade wherever you can. It is ok. Cast a little shade every once in awhile. It won’t last forever unless you let this time define the rest of your life.
Adolescence is not forever unless you allow the things that happen to you in the next few years to make that so. I know a lot of adults, myself included, who had a prolonged adolescence which has its advantages (I am not going to lie) but what it did for me was delay my time in the various beginning stages of adulthood and so I missed out on some pretty crucial parts of my life because I remained stuck in my teenagedom for longer than was necessary. There are many stages to life and they all feel like they will never end and that they are over far too quickly. My advice is to enjoy them then let them pass. Each stage has its ups and downs, it’s positive and negative. Do not fear the stage that comes next any more than long for the one that you just left. Instead enjoy the hell out of the one you are in. Own it. Relish it. Savor it. Life doesn’t give you do-overs or second chances very often, do not waste them on failing to live in the present. Today, this moment, is all we have...ever.
Finally, I want to tell you that you don’t have to like something to accept it. Shit, I wish I knew that at 13. I railed against so many things for so long because I could not just accept what was. There are many things not to like about life, but it makes your life not worth much if you focus on that. Acceptance is the answer to ALL your problems. Whenever you find a person, place or thing unacceptable to you, the problem is you. This seriously is the magic to life. I mean it. If you can change yourself to fit your world, then you cannot fail. If you insist that the world change to fit you, you are going to be exhausted all the time. Life will be one disappointing venture after another.
Allow yourself to be happy even when your friends like to pretend that happy is uncool. Allow yourself to love your family, even though your friends think that is lame. Allow yourself not to be defined by the limited minds of your peers. Remember, you are the light bearer and sometimes the shade throwers will overwhelm. When that happens, retreat into yourself to protect that most precious flame that is your soul. Honor it. Love it. Revere it. It is your path. It is your home. It is your birthright.
Know that on this day, your incredibly cool mom (HA!), loves you with all that she is. Know that I think you are truly one of the best people I know. Know that I love you forever and am honored to be your mom. Today we will kick quarantine’s ass and have the most amazing birthday celebration ever because we, my sweet, are never limited by the outside stuff...we know the magic happens right here, inside our souls.
Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life...Happy, Happy Birthday!
I will always have your back...
Remember this from my dear Cheryl Strayed...
My Advice to my adolescent self?
You know who you are, so let yourself be her now.
It's okay to be smart and ambitious and curious and not terribly cool.
Don't waste all those years trying to get the boys to want you and the girls to like you.
Don't starve yourself skinny. Don't be a pretty cheerleader.
Don't lose your virginity to the captain of the football team.
Don't lose anything to him.
Be the captain.
You are the captain.
Take the ball and run.
All my love, admiration and support,