Every year, I write a love letter to my daughter on their birthday because one day, I hope that she’ll read them and get to know me in a different way. The whole purpose of this blog was to write down not only their milestones but my journey through motherhood. One day when she’s a mother, I hope she might like to read them to get to know us both from a different perspective.
I loved you from the moment you were a blip on the ultrasound screen. Actually, I loved you before that. I loved you when you were a + sign on a pregnancy stick. I loved you before I even knew how much I could love you.
My heart filled with with so much love and happiness that I was actually dumbstruck for a moment. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. That I was going to get to be your mom. I was terrified, I think that’s normal. I was terrified that I was going to let you down.
Then, I watched you being born and held you in my arms and I knew. I knew that I would spend my whole life committed to loving you unconditionally and being the best mom I could be to you. I realize that is defined differently by everybody but for me, it simply meant raising you to know that you were wanted and loved and to be the best kind of human you could be. I wanted you to be happy.
The moment you were born and they lay you on my chest, all warm and gooey, my heart exploded. I was overcome with so much love and happiness that I was simultaneously laughing and crying. I want you to feel that same overwhelming love for your entire life and I promised myself that you would.
Now, you are 12-years-old and we are entering that part of adolescence where you are beginning to feel a little unsure of your place in the world; caught someplace between a child and a teen. Your body is changing and the hormones are making you feel unsure of a lot of things but I hope the one thing that you never doubt is my love for you, it is as strong and as fierce as the day you were born. It never wanes.
I can’t believe that I’ve been a mother for a dozen years. It seems like just yesterday that I was holding you in my arms and staring at you in awe. I couldn’t believe that we made you; our miracle. Now, you are almost as tall as I am. Soon, you will be taller than I am but to me, you will always be that tiny, newborn on my chest. That moment forever imprinted on my soul.
I wanted to tell you 12 things about you this year so one day, you can look back and know these things.
1.6th grade is a crazy transition year and, with the exception of Nutcracker season, you have handled it all with grace, dignity and just a little bit of crying, which is to be expected. I am proud of you. All those A’s, Harvard here we come.
2. Dancing and Singing. You always dance and sing like no one’s watching. You love the theater and everything about it. You joined the Youth Company at ballet. Your dad wanted dedication and I’d say committing to something 5-days a week plus rehearsals and performances has shown us a level of dedication that humbles us. You go girl. I still can’t believe that you’ve been dancing for 10 years. I still remember buying you your first ballet slippers.
3.Your smile. They say the eyes are the gateway to the soul but I can look at your mouth and know everything about you. I know your real laugh, when you think nobody is watching and you are 100% pure happy. I know your smiles; the fake one that tells me to take the picture already, your big one that goes all the way up to your eyes when you are excited like when traveling or chocolate are involved, your pursed lip smile when you want to throw your little sister or anyone for that matter out of the window for doing/saying something stupid and, my favorite, the quivering, tiny smile you get whenever you try to lie to me. You’ve had this tell since you were a toddler and I hate to break it to you, you always will. I can read your face like a book; my favorite book in the world.
4.Friendship. The way you’ve begun to handle your friendships and controversy. Can I just say that I am so proud of the way you rise above gossip? I love that you have your expectations and you stick to them. You are direct and you don’t let toxic people take up space in your life. I hope that never changes. By the same token, I love the way you love your friends like family. You are a good friend. You once told me when you were 4, that to have a good friend you need to be a good friend and I think you are succeeding at both.
5.Disney, I love the way you still love all the things Disney now just as much as you did when you were a preschooler. Every trip to Disney World with you and your sister is a memory that I’ll cherish forever. And, yes, I will have a Disney princess marathons snuggled up on the sofa together with you any day of the week for as long as you ask. Beauty and the Beast on Thursday!
6.Changes, wow, I know you have gone through a lot of not only mental but physical changes this year. It’s rough being this age because everything seems to be changing at warp speed but we’ve been open and honest and I always will be. I’ve got you. As I always say, everything is a teachable moment and you can talk to me about everything no judgement. Hey and the sex talk ambush on the way to school the day before your birthday wasn’t that bad, was it?
7. Standing up for what’s right. This year, I watched you (and your little sister) become activists. You are no longer bystanders in the world, you have opinions and beliefs and you are willing to vocalize them. You are willing to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not popular. Thanks for standing in line at the polls with me this year. Never forget, women can do anything.
8. Little kids. You are always super sweet to your little cousins. You have always been a nurturing soul. You are very patient and you look at life with a childlike wonder that allows you to relate to children and animals with a tender and kind heart.
9.Wanderlust. I’ve seen the fire ignite within you. My love of travel and yearning to embrace new cultures and people has rubbed off on you. I love the way you thirst for new experiences and new places. You even volunteered to forgo Christmas for travel. That’s my girl.
10. Self-confidence. You exude self-confidence and nothing could make me happier. I love the way you love your body. You still run around the house in your skivvies. There is no shame or second guessing, there is only loving the skin you are in. I pray that never ends. You live life in a big way. You are bold, you are fierce and you are beautiful in every way. You are kind, giving, smart and funny. You love to laugh but never at another’s expense (well, unless it’s me and the way I say cabinet.)
11. Just like Mommy. Maybe you wouldn’t want this to get out but really, I don’t think you care. I love that you ask me what I’m wearing before we go out and you try to coordinate. At an age when I was expecting to be the person you most wanted to not be like, you seemed to have clung to me for whatever reason. I don’t know why and I don’t question it because, silently, I love it. It makes me feel like you like me (the person) not because you have to but because you choose to. That means everything to me. Thank you for not shutting me out.
12. The unencumbered way that you go through life. Ever since you were a wee little one you have always done what you have wanted. You don’t see limitations. You see challenges and you just go for it because there’s never been a doubt that you can accomplish anything you put your heart to. Never forget that.
These are 12 things about you that I love. There are so many more; too many to list. Happiest of birthdays to my Bellabini! You made me a mommy and I will love you forever.