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Happy 17th Birthday, Amazing Grace...

My Dearest Grace,

You are 17 today.  One last moment of childhood left for us both.  You are almost an adult and I am almost done with this aspect of parenting.  The parenting is never done.  Ever.  And I suppose, some can also claim, and be correct, that neither is the childing.  I know I have been an example of that for sure.

I have been thinking about what I want to say to you this day.  And there are so many things, but I have said those before.  And so it weighs a little heavy for me today to say something different and new and important.

I guess what I need you to know today is that I have enjoyed every minute of the last 17 years.  You have been my confidant, my friend, my daughter, my laughter and my joy.  And I yours.  And I think appropriately for the most part.  I feel like I have been the mother for the most part and only allowing you to step forward into mothering me on very rare occasions.  And I guess I want to say thank you for the wise counsel you have provided to me on those occasions...embarrassed as I am that you needed to.

But those limited times showed me that I did my best with raising you, gave you enough moxie and spice that you would be so bold as to call me out, to show me the ways in which you, at a much younger age, surpassed me.  And while it was humbling, I was grateful for the lesson.  As I pray that you will someday be for all the lessons I have endeavored to teach you, to impart to you, to counsel you.

Not all mothers and daughter are as lucky as us.  Not everyone has the relationship we do, the closeness, the intimacy, the lack of competition.  I feel that we have been able to surpass the issues so many fall victim to and rise above and beyond.  And that is in great measure due to you.  You have allowed me access to parts other daughter insist remain remote.  You have flung open the door to your life, your friends, your struggle and your pain.  You have granted me access to places other mothers of teenagers only fear to tread.  But you, you have allowed me entrance and access and I pray that I have been worthy of your trust, faith and admittance.  Please know, I have always tried to be worthy of your trust.

This is your last year before you truly are given your life over.  This time next year, I will not be able to tell you much as you will be granted the power and agency to make your own decisions no matter what I do or say.  So please forgive me this next year as I struggle to put forth all the things I am so very sure I missed in the intervening 16.  I am not making up for lost time, I am endeavoring to round out your childhood with all that I was too scared, shy or terrified would alienate you from me.  

Please know that you are an amazing gift to all who are lucky enough to know you.  You are smart, fiercely so.  You are beautiful, from the inside of your being all the way to the way you show up in this world.  You are funny, fuck, so funny.  You are kind, and loving and tender with this world’s most tender needing beings.  It is a pleasure to know you, to spend time with you, to laugh with you and to watch you grow into this most amazing woman.

Being a woman is not easy.  Unfortunately, the world has already schooled you all too well in this particular lesson.  I did my best to shelter you from it for as long as I could, but life has a way of being lifey, in spite of me.  I have watched your pain and done my best to mediate it, to alleviate it and to encapsulate it so that you are never robbed of the life that is rightfully yours.  It is a delicate balance of holding on and letting go and I haven’t always gotten that balance right.  Regardless, I have tried and failed and tried and failed.  And I guess in so doing, showed you that this is life and living.  We try, and fail and try and fail until we are dead.  That is the process of living.  And it is in all this trying and failing that life unfolds for us.  

I have learned so much more from all my failing than I ever did at the things I have done successfully.  Remember that.  The greatest of life’s lesson come with pain and hardship and strife and struggle.  Life is truly not figuring out a way to avoid all of that but a way to embrace it all and know that the opposite will always will grow and you will shrink.  You will love and you will lose. You will fuck it up and you will fucking smash it out of the park.  You will move forward and you will fall back.  Life is full of paradoxes, and it is the space in-between the two extremes that the best parts of life occur.

Know that you have always been one of the best parts of my life.  And in between all our loveliness and all our pain, this mother/daughter relationship has burgeoned into what we have today.  A relationship where I love you with all that I am, a love so fierce there have been times when I thought, perhaps, neither of us might survive it.  My fear so great for your safety that I didn’t ever want to let you do anything. But God granted me more faith than fear and an intense desire to support you to live your own life, to blossom into the best and fullest version of yourself.  And to be grateful for the ringside seat to your ultimate becoming.

And so often it has been anxiety ridden and pain laden.  But I will tell you today that it was worth every dark moment I walked through to be here with you today, as we celebrate the 17th year of you being here with us, literally gracing us with your presence, and being, and humor and life.

Being your mom is the best thing I have ever done. Getting to raise you every day of your life and watch you unfold into this most amazing version of yourself, the greatest gift I have ever been given.  You and your brother are my greatest work.  And know that I shall never, ever give up on being your mom.  To remain supportive and kind and willing allow your life to eclipse mine.  It is the natural order of things and I am truly just grateful to have a seat at your table.

Know that I look at you with awe and wonder and love and interest every day of your life.  I always have and I always will.  I respect you and love you and enjoy every single moment I get to spend with you.  And while I know those moments will become less and less as you claim that which is rightfully yours, know that I do not ever regret it or wish it to be otherwise...oh, sure, there will be moments that I will feel the loss of your daily presence in my life.  But know always that I am happy for you and want you to take your turn and not waste it.

We only get this one least that is all we are assured of.  Just this one.  So enjoy it.  Do good things with it.  Make yourself proud and sure and loved and cared for and I promise, that if you make your own happiness your birthright, and endeavor to claim that every day of your living, you shall bring respect and honor and happiness to all those about you.

This much I know is true, the greatest and most difficult thing in your life is to become who you are.  Not who you are meant to be...but who you actually are. And you my most amazing, beautiful and wonderful daughter know that truth better than anyone I have ever met, because you are the one that taught it to me...

Happy Birthday my most amazing Grace.  I love you in all the ways, for all the times. Again. Still.



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