From your earliest days, you were marked for leadership. Your drive and tenacity to master skills and complete tasks were unmatched. What I used to call independence, I now understand as leadership and determination.
Your fierce loyalty to your favorite things [your blanket, stuffed animal, and sippy cup], was reflective of the passion that continues to move you forward. The image of you carrying your blanket on your shoulder with your head cocked to the right holding it in place while doing three other things, is an image forever etched in my mind. It spoke of a strength that would sustain you through the ups and downs of childhood, and one that will continue to lead you throughout adulthood.
Your personality, both tender and determined, coupled with your darling, tiny-toothed smile, commanded a room. Your small voice and infectious giggle were intoxicating to my routinely tired ears. Watching you move down the hallway by way of somersaults was a normal occurrence and accurately reflects your personality today.
I confess that sometimes I hid behind your energy and activity. I convinced myself you didn’t really need me to play with you. Because you were always on the go, I assumed you were content in your play and deferred to the role of passive observer. That decision was rooted in my own insecurity, not in my lack of desire. I wasn’t confident I could be a good mama, so I resolved to observe and absorb every detail about you. Your idiosyncrasies became the delight that buoyed my heart.
Fear of what I knew from the moment you began expressing your unique bent sometimes paralyzed me. You were beyond your years in your ability to love and encourage others. I knew because I was often the recipient. Shame taunted me because I knew I was supposed to be nurturing, cultivating, and teaching you, but often I found myself in the learner’s seat.
You’ve heard me say this many times, but because it’s true I’ll say it again. You taught me how to be a good mama. You showed me, repeatedly, what it looked like to be motivated by compassion. You were the one tending to classmates, animals, siblings, neighbors, and parents. I continue to be awestruck at how effortlessly nurturing comes to you.
As you move into the next season of your life, hold tightly to the things you know are true. Your life has a purpose. You were created with a specific, unique bent the world needs. Only you can do you and who you are is good. Never compromise your integrity. Tap into your determination to reach for things that feel outside your grasp. Share your words with the world. You have vital contributions to make in our family, on your team, in your community, and in the larger picture of life.
If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it would be this, live in the middle. Not your birth order, but the mundane moments of everyday life. It’s easy to be consumed with beginnings and endings because a lot of excitement exists there, but most days are spent in the middle. With each day you are given, days in the middle of so many other things, all ordinary days at best, you can be fully present. So, give it all you have. Don’t shrink back. Live each moment in the middle as if it’s the best and only one you have.
Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” So, as you step from high school to college, keep your eyes ahead of you. Don’t get hung up on what others are doing. They have their own path. Follow yours. Chase adventure outside the lines of your self-imposed limitations. Where you see scarcity, others see opportunity clothed in risk. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith.
Failure is an excellent teacher. Use it to frame your understanding and adjust your perspective. Whatever you do, don’t allow failure or fear to impede your pursuit of excellence. You have what it takes. It may not come quickly or without excruciating effort, but it will come if you stick it out. I believe in you. If you fall, I will be near. If you succeed, I will cheer. If you struggle, I will come.
This is my promise, I will be your biggest fan until my dying breath. I admire you, baby girl. I always have. I always will.
I love you,