In many cultures the thirteenth birthday is a transition from childhood to adulthood that is commemorated with some grand event - a bat mitzvah, a hunt, even marriage in some cases. The most we could come up with was adding you to our cell phone plan as a sign of your maturity and "separateness" from us. It seemed kind of pale so I decided to write you a letter. The teenage years are notoriously difficult between moms and daughters. You will want desperately to prove that you are not me and I will also desperately want to keep you from making the mistakes that the me I was at your age made. And that leads to conflicts and tears and slammed doors and often several years of not quite fitting together as the perfect little pair the way we did when you were little.
So many times parents speak of their hopes and dreams for their children all underlined with the idea that at the end of the day their child be happy. When you were born I only hoped that you would survive - your life at the time was too tenous to imagine what profession you might have as an adult. I begged, bargained, pleaded, prayed that you would continue to keep taking one breath after another. I promised myself that if you did make it, I would be grateful for each one of those breaths. That I would not lay a heavy burden of expectation on your shoulders to chafe under - that I would let you be you and be thankful for it.
I have not always succeeded in that promise. Gratitude in some ways can be like grief - when it is fresh it overwhelms the mind and the senses and pushes everything else away. But as time goes on while it doesn't lessen in strength it comes to visit less often. When you were a baby I would lay next to you almost every day and listen to you breathe watching as your tiny chest rose and fell. Awed by the evidence of your warrior spirit and humbled that I was your mother. I no longer watch you breathe with the ardency of a new mother but last week you walked out onto the deck and raised your face and closed your eyes to take a deep breath and smell the grass after the rain. I listened to you breathe and watched your chest rise and fall and once again I was awed by your spirit and humbled to be your mother.
Your favorite book as a toddler was Maybe my Baby by Irene O'book. The cute little rhyme in it always captured perfectly how I felt -
But Diver or DriverI am thankful for who you are and the woman that I can see glimmers of you becoming. I love you so much and I am always proud of you.
Inventor or Star
I'll Love you