On the occasion of your 12th birthday, I wanted to share a little of the many lessons I’ve learnt from you, my precious daughter.
- There is no point of comparison, as we are all so very different, achieving in our own allotted timeline. There is no room for envy, nor hankering after what someone else has. You celebrate your friend’s wins more than anyone I know. I have never seen you covet another’s fortune.
- You have taught me to not fear death. Loved ones have died in front of you, and you have reached for their hands. You have insisted on attending more than one viewing and have then celebrated their precious lives, whilst comforting the grieving.
- You aren’t afraid to be seen, whether that be via acting in a production, dancing or singing. You stand on stage and proudly declare that you are here, staking your place in this world. You know that there is enough room for everyone.
- Criticism doesn’t bother you. You humbly take on board constructive feedback, but discard nastiness in all its forms. It takes many people a lifetime to learn the difference.
- You have a keen appreciation of the ridiculous, and a wonderful sense of humour. Remember when we were trying to find the hotel room I had booked? We wearily walked several blocks, because I couldn’t figure out which way was north when Google Maps told me to go that direction? I finally saw the appropriate signage on a motel building and remarked to you that it was pretty grand for a budget motel, what with its marble reception and pianist. The nice lady at the counter informed us that the budget arm of their chain was in fact a few blocks away. “Just head west,” she said, which saw you collapse into peals of laughter. We laughed some more when we read on the copious instructions in the dodgy room that if we showered, we would surely set off the nervy smoke alarm and the whole place may have to be evacuated. Being able to laugh in the face of delays, problems and a directionally-challenged mother, will hold you in good stead.
- You have a healthy relationship with social media, with no interest in most of the platforms. You don’t need likes nor to have your worth affirmed by other people. Sensitive, you are acutely aware of the pain of exclusion, and see no need to highlight what you are doing and with whom, every day.
- You are a loyal friend, and make no demands of those whom you love. You may not see a good friend for six months, but when you do, you simply pick up where you left off.
- You bound out of bed of a morning, and give every activity 100%. Your enthusiasm inspires me.
- Before you came along, I was a hermit. This world had been a dangerous, unpredictable launching pad, and I put away my rocket ship, and closed the blinds. When I started IVF, I had to travel to the clinic most days, and my engagement with life began anew. Now, I look forward to adventures and the world is no longer terrifying. This is largely due to your love of travel and new experiences.
- You have built yourself up, and played to your strengths, letting nothing stop you. I have seen the way you deflect negativity and refuse to play small to help naysayers play large.
- You are a savvy shopper, and hate waste. You already have a healthy relationship with money, and prioritize accordingly.
- Life, when seen through your eyes, is blissfully clear. You have taught me to simplify rather than catastrophize. You have the gift of being able to break a problem down into workable pieces, and look to hopeful outcomes rather present calamity.
- You are grateful for every kind action, and for our home. You are grateful for the trill of birds, the trees in the yard, the food in the pantry and for the clothes in your wardrobe. I am lovingly reprimanded whenever I have bought you something that you simply don’t need.
- Careful with money, you proudly brought back a large portion of the spending money I had given you when you went away with a friend a year or so ago. You have a budget and stick to it.
- You aren’t afraid of your voice, and not only do you stick up for yourself, but for those around you. You wont let certain things happen on your watch, no way. You live with integrity and won’t say anything, unless it is true. You are unafraid of confrontation, and saying what is on your mind, even if it’s a hard conversation to have.
- You have borne witness to my surgeries, and have seen the scars. You have experienced the aftermath on a daily basis, and have the heart of a social justice warrior. You have anger at the plight of the homeless, and demand to know why resources aren’t freely available for youth, whether that be in the way of long-term housing or counselling. You find so many things unacceptable, and by this, you can help promote change.
- You adore all things vintage! You love petti skirts and A-line dresses, record players and vintage shoes. To you, everything old is new again, apart from old attitudes (which needed to be put into mothballs). Little girls can now be seen and heard, and that aside, they demand to be respected.
From the time you were born (four weeks early), you have always had your own timetable. Walking before you crawled, climbing structures before you had ever played in a sandpit. I could only watch with admiration. I am doing the same now, as you cartwheel into your teenage years. I love you, sweetheart.
Yours Always and ever,