Today you are 17 on the 17th.
I love golden birthdays, as if regular birthdays weren’t delightful enough, and I especially love this one because gold is a lovely color for the Anniversary of My Motherhood.
Some women are born mothers, I think, but not me. I became a mother when I had you. It’s not something I had imagined very well, but belonging to you for the last seventeen years has been the greatest honor and accomplishment and happiness of my life.
I will never forget the moments we sat together and talked about the future. It scares you sometimes – all the decision-making to come. At least, it used to. Lately, I get the feeling you grow every day into confidence about what you want and what you believe and what makes life worth living.
It bothers me sometimes how much I am still growing in that confidence. It doesn’t bother me for me. I love knowing each day is a new day to see my life purpose more clearly. “Make the search for meaning the story of your life,” I read on Happify.com, and I am doing that. But for some reason, the constant learning bothers me for you. When it comes to career and happiness and relationships, I want you to know everything good and true now without any of the hard work and mistakes it can sometimes take to get there.
I want you to know about money. If your dad and I have instilled at least one boring life truth, I hope it’s that debt is the devil. Always, always, always get your butt back to zero as fast as you possibly can so you can start growing from there. Better yet, never see the other side of zero at all, because that side has far too many limitations, and we want you to be limitless.
I want you to know about love that it is a choice every day, that choosing someone and being chosen by them is the greatest gift in the world, but it’s up to each of you to keep giving the gift every day. Stay at the table, have the conversation, let the other person grow and change, think differently and have debate, but stay.
I want you to know how free you are, that you are the boss of you even when you’re not. That no one can make you feel inferior without your permission or make you alter your priorities or make you do anything you do not believe in.
I want you to be happy.
I want you to quit things and say no when necessary and not have a bit of guilt about it. We know you know how to commit. That’s crazy important, too, but sometimes we have to let go and I dream that you would know exactly when that is and never struggle with it.
I want you to know God and what it is to be loved and held by him and yet I want you to question what you know all the time and approach others with humility and wonder and love.
I want you to like your work, love where you live, enjoy your day.
It took time and mistakes for me to learn so much of this, and I discover more every time I approach the day with the openness to learn. I wish you could know everything I’ve learned so far, without the mistakes, and grow from there. But I guess when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t take the journey from you for the world. The journey is the best part of all. The hardest, the most beautiful, and the best.
That’s what I want most for you: to believe that, to hold onto it in the good times and the bad, to ride the freakin’ bull and suck the marrow and trust every day you wake up is a great and glorious gift you’ll spend the rest of the day trying to earn.
The first seventeen have been my favorite seventeen so far. I love that they are just the beginning of you, and the rest could be anything at all.