Here is the third letter in the Letters from the Heart blog series! We have several more letters to go, and you will hear from some new voices in the coming weeks. The letters are tender and inspiring, and I hope you’ll come back every Monday to read each installment!
I had the fortune/misfortune of launching kids in back-to-back years. Poor planning, they said. True, but I had failed to plan. Oops. It was rough on my heart, but it didn’t kill me, it taught me. Using lessons from the first graduate, I walked with less confusion and more clarity with the second.
I have two sons and a daughter. When my daughter launched, I didn’t know how much I’d miss all the things I mention about her personality in today’s letter. Once she lived several states away, her absence created a hole I hadn’t anticipated. I missed her companionship and opinion about outfit options, etc. Nothing personal, but those remaining in my house didn’t have the same level of interest in such things.
This is the letter I wrote for my only girl [who happened to pen the first letter in this series]. It’s filled with the kind of words my heart longed to hear at her age. It’s the anthem I hope she clings to when she loses her way or forgets her own song.
We owe it to the people around us to be generous with our words. If this inspires you in any way, please do something life-giving. Tell someone who you see them becoming, applaud the effort you see in a family member, or turn the encouragement on yourself.
Thanks for reading, friend. I’m thrilled you are here, and I hope this series brings your heart joy and motivates you to action.
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’ve shown 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,