(This is my annual birthday love letter to our daughter. Regularly scheduled articles about the Impostor Complex and your Unshakeable Confidence will crank back up next week. Promise.)
Today’s your fifteenth birthday.
I just...can’t even.
So can we take a pause here to let me catch my breath and scan where we’ve been.
On your eighth birthday, I made some wishes. They continue to hold strong and true.
On your twelfth, I made an apology and some promises I’ll never break. Namely, this: “I will never withdraw my love. I will always be your soft place to land. You will never go wrong if you are always yourself.”
Remember when I used to drive you to Theatre Day Camp? In particular, it was the summer of Taylor Swift. Ly had turned you onto her, yeah? “Romeo and Juliet” was the gateway.
You’ll not be the least bit surprised to know that I used to watch you in the rearview mirror as we sang along to “Fifteen”. You had just turned seven. The fact that you would one day be that freshman girl who discovers the only way one can truly learn about heartbreak took my breath away. Knowing all too well the next eight years would go by in a flash.
I was right. (And you KNOW how I like to be right.)
The first line of the song was:
“You take a deep breath”
So I did. Every time in the car. I would watch you with your head thrown back as you belted it out with full heart and voice. I would smile and also wonder at what age I would need to address how problematic the lyrics were. But for the moment, just feeling it all. And breathing deeply.
Which is what I’ve been doing for the past eight years.
Your grace taking my breath away, and me needing to take a deep breath.
Grounding into the now that we have. Every time.
This year has been one of massive transitions. Again. As you have navigated the newness of high school and tricky terrains and social dynamics and expectations swollen with your potential and projections from those who mean well but place the weight of the world on your sunny shoulders...because you cheer everyone up.
And your grace takes my breath away.
And so I take a deep breath.
I want you to know it’s okay to feel down, and to stay down just as long as you need to.
That you don’t have to be the good girl.
That I love singing with you as much as I love our spirited conversations about problematic lyrics that presume cis-het relationships and suggest the value of a girl’s worth being inextricably linked to her virginity.
That there are no limits to our love. Nor on your capacity for greatness.
That you get to choose.
But what I want you to know is that the shift that has happened in this last year has taken my breath away above all else.
No longer do I feel the need to show you the world.
Now I only want to see the world through your big — and yes — beautiful hazel, knowing, questioning, challenging, just, loving, kind, empathetic, and sparkling eyes.
Because you see the all.
But above all, believe YOU.
I love you with every breath I have.