Happy 17 to my daughter

Dear Pumpkin (gosh, it feels so ridiculous to call you that now… but that’s what I did when I started writing here and so it stuck),

Happy birthday to you, sweet girl. Today you are 17 and this morning, I was up early just as I was 17 years ago, though fortunately not because of agonizing pain or discomfort. Just awake and watching the clock and thinking how quickly the years go by and what a big year is ahead for you.

Just a couple weeks ago, you got your drivers license. Drivers training and permit hours have been a challenge amidst the current state of the world. But finally you did and and finally you have a license. It’s kind of amazing. Feels like another exciting milestone accomplished.

Yesterday, we went to get your senior photos done and it was such a fun time watching you pose and play and have a blast with the photographer. I can’t wait to see how those come out. I feel like they will showcase your love of fashion and sense of style and your free spirited personality. Another milestone.

Your junior year was a step closer to normalcy. You remained involved with theater. You were cast as Emily in Our Town. Your performance was exquisite and I cried at every performance. I am hopeful that your director will let you wrap senior year with a comedy, instead of once again casting you as a dying girl — but time will tell! In the musical, you were Cinderella’s Mom (also dead), and you had this lovely ethereal costume for this “tree mom” role. I love seeing you on the stage and making connections and friendships in your theater family.

You’re still an exceptional student who gets phenomenal grades – even in classes you hate. When you’re interested and engaged, there’s no stopping you. This coming year, you’ll be taking an independent study to spend more time being creative and exploring art. I have a hard time envisioning how it will go but I’m excited for you.

We’ve started college tours and I think you’ve got your mind set on where you’re applying. It will be interesting to see where you make your home for the four years of college. I know it feels overwhelming to try to choose a place but I think you’ve seen some great places and I hope you feel comfortable about that.

You have a tight knit group of friends. Your friend group are creative, bright, funny. I love how each of you embraces your own individuality and what makes each other unique and special. This past weekend you took part in a demonstration organized by a friend of yours and I am so proud of you for standing for what you believe and for using your voice to move toward change. Gen Z makes me feel a little hope for the future – and I am so proud to have raised daughters who will not be silenced.

It’s hard for me sometimes when I realize, “My baby is 17!” but I am so excited for this year and I’m honored to have a front-row seat for all the things you do in the year ahead and beyond.

Happy birthday. I love you so much and I’m so very lucky to be your mom.

Love you lots and lots of tater tots.



Happy 20th, Princess

Dear Princess,

Today you are 20 years old.

Twenty. 2.0.

I don’t even know how that happened.

This is the latest on your birthday I have ever written this letter, I think. It’s nearly 9 a.m. and as I type, your cake is in the oven and the pans are overflowing and soon I will smell batter burning on the floor of the oven and I’m not sure how I managed such a mess but perhaps I needed more coffee before getting things started today.

And you are at work at the place you’ve been for just over a year, a place you love with people you like. You made your own cake to take into work today because you wanted to be a little “extra” about your birthday, and I kind of love that… and not just because it’s the kind of thing I would do.

You have finished your sophomore year of college and you had another stellar year academically. I didn’t tell you this, but the other day I found my college report card in the basement, and… well, you’re doing much better than I did. I am simultaneously super proud of you, and worried sometimes about the pressure you put on yourself to succeed. You have a drive to do things well and I’ve never needed to nag, push, or tell you what to do. Blessing and a curse, and what not.

I think this year may have been a slightly better year after two years of complete Covid garbage. I still mourn for the things you missed and I know sometimes you do, too. I am hoping that some of your new adventures pave the way for leaving the past in the past and embracing what’s to come. And what’s to come is a grand adventure.

This year you applied for and were accepted to a study abroad program. This fall you will be heading to Spain for the semester. I would never have had the courage to do this and so I’m in awe of you and truly excited for what this year will bring. I don’t know how it will be, not seeing you for months (though I look forward to coming to visit!), because I’ve never gone that long without seeing you. But there’s no way I’d dare stop you from this experience – and getting to see the world.

You still love your Spanish classes (obviously), and find less joy in Stats (also, obviously). You have made some new friends, and got involved with some activities. I know it’s still kind of hard to have normal these days, but it feels like we’re on our way. Ish.

I loved my days coming to visit you at school, taking you out for cinnamon roll pancakes and then having you show me your favorite coffee shops. It makes me smile when we order coffee and you quickly get out your debit card to treat me to a cappuccino – because never in a million years when I pictured my parenting journey did I imagine the days of my children buying me coffee at places they had discovered on their own. It’s pretty great, I’ve gotta say.

The hardest thing this year was the realization that some people are just never gonna be who you want them to be, or what they need to be. I mean, “disappointed but not surprised” is not an unusual theme, but I think this year it truly hit that you could do everything right and some people still just won’t show up, won’t be there, won’t be what you want or hope or wish. And I hate that for you. And I hate it with the understanding of someone who has been there and felt that and experienced it. It’s AWFUL. But I am so proud of you for acknowledging the feelings and for working through it. Being a human is hard and it’s good to use all the tools we have to figure ourselves and our lives out.

You love Harry Styles. Tik Tok. All the caffeine with none of the dairy (oat milk lattes are a fave). White shirts are a staple in your mostly neutral wardrobe. A little bit of pink to keep things sassy. Retail therapy. Garlic aioli. Time with our doodle. All of the music. Pretty color palettes. Baking, always baking.

I am so glad that I have raised good humans. You are one of my favorite people (and yes, your sister is another – I don’t play favorites. Even on your birthday!). And I know that I am lucky to just genuinely enjoy my kids so much. Talking to you on long drives is one of my favorite things and I feel grateful for every minute and all of the years.

I don’t know how twenty years flew by like it did, but you’ve made life so special and I’m so very lucky to be your mom.


Love Mom.

To My Daughter as she Turns 16

Dear Pumpkin,

Sweet 16 – is that even a thing anyone says anymore? I started writing it on your birthday card and stopped myself. It sounded so archaic and old-timey. But you are sixteen and isn’t that sweet?

We’re still a ways away from getting your license – trying to accumulate all of those permit driving hours which has been a challenge in these weird Covid-y times, in part because for the longest time, driver’s training wasn’t being offered and in part because we also just haven’t gone as many places that afford you the opportunity to drive as frequently. We’re chipping away at the time – hopefully we’ll get there soon and you can have your license. You don’t seem much to care and so I don’t push.

Today your friends will come over for brownie sundaes and it’ll be good for you to have time with your friends. They’re a lovely group and I am glad that you all have stayed in touch so well over the summer, recently arranging a potluck day at the beach. You all dressed up and brought a dish to pass and spent hours on a lightly raining day doing your thing. I think you will be glad to be back at school again where there is structure and you’ll be able to spend time with your friends more regularly. Several of your friends attended virtual school last year and they’ll be back in-person this fall and I know you are excited about that.

The last school year was hard – but you found magical moments in the midst of it. You were cast as Beth in the play Little Women, because the director knew you could move people to tears. You were also in the musical. You were quarantined four times due to close contact with covid-positive classmates which resulted in missing the PSAT three separate times (what are the odds? It’s really weird that it kept working out that way).

I didn’t want to pressure you or your sister to push yourselves too hard academically during the madness of the 2020-1 school year and did not, and yet you both managed to excel. You ended up with nearly all As fall semester and straight As in the spring and I am impressed knowing the hurdles you leaped in order to get there. Having to learn materials despite the fact that some teachers didn’t do much to aid students who were remote due to quarantine – I’m not sure how you managed it.

You like to listen to music – lots of music. You have been trying to teach yourself to play guitar. The other day you said, “They put too many chords in songs. Why does anyone need more than four?”

You’re rewatching Gilmore Girls for the third? fourth? time? You also love The Good Place and have every routine from John Mulaney memorized, at least it seems that way. It is interesting to me that I went from knowing all of the shows and movies and music you listened to, to hearing you recite some bit from a stand up routine and have no idea where it came from.

You are little by little starting to talk about college and I know that as much as the last sixteen years have flown, these next two will fly as well. I don’t know yet where you will end up but you’re considering your options and thinking about the kinds of things you might want to do in the future. So it’ll be interesting to see what directions you decide to explore. We’ll figure out some college visits soon, see what places might feel like home to you.

Sometimes you seem to be in your own world but I am always in awe of when you can tell better than most when I am feeling sad or having a bad day. You did this recently. I thought I was doing a decent job of keeping a happy face on and you knew that I was sad. You wanted so much to make things better for me and I was grateful for your love and kindness when I was bummed, while also being frustrated with myself that you needed to ease my feelings. You are so observant sometimes and I am grateful for that.

I started crying when I was wrapping your gifts yesterday. Maybe i’m just emotional lately – goodness knows the past year has done that to me – but maybe because you’re my youngest and you’re getting so old, and it makes me think of how quickly time is flying and how much I’d like things to just slow down a little bit now.

Sixteen. I don’t even know how it happened. Where has the time even gone?

I’m so proud of you all the time, always. I am so very proud to be your momma. And I love you so so so much.

Happy 19th, Princess

Dear Princess,

Last year on your 18th birthday, I printed out all of these birthday letters and gave them to you to read and I thought at the time, do i keep writing these letters after this? I wasn’t really sure, but here it is, the morning of your 19th birthday and the answer is obvious: of course I keep writing.

This year has been one of the hardest years we all have experienced – one of the hardest in your life. And while we don’t believe in the Pain Olympics, I can say with absolute certainty that the way the events of the world have hit and the time that they have hit have been particularly difficult for you and your friends and the stage you’re in — who experienced the end of one chapter, the beginning of the next in the midst of absolute chaos. Nothing was the way you imagined, nothing was the way it should have been, and everything sucked. And while we were absolutely fortunate to maintain our physical health and well-being during *gestures wildly* all this, emotionally the year was draining and challenging.

I recognize all of that. And I recognize how hard you worked for every shining moment in your 18th year. How despite having very few in-person classes, several insensitive and incompetent instructors, and far more time on Zoom than anyone should spend, you managed to crush your freshman year of college, making Dean’s List both terms with a badass 4.0 this fall. You managed to figure out a math class taught by an instructor notorious for failing more than half the students each term — and you got an A. (That teacher is a butthead, by the way.) You work so hard, far harder than anyone could ever expect and you accomplished so much. And I wish you didn’t put that kind of pressure on yourself, but I also recognize that pressure and know that my telling you it’s not necessary probably won’t change a thing.

You worked hard to keep yourself and loved ones safer this year. Even when it was hard. When you were missing out. When you were lonely. I hated every second of that for you, knowing your friends were posting all the things they were doing on social media, and knowing that it was beyond your comfort level to risk anyone getting sick. You washed your hands, you wore your mask, you really did your best and I am proud of you for that. And also, I hate that you even had to.

You have always been capable of seeing the world outside of yourself, and seeing your role in it. Of realizing that we all have a part to play in making the world what we want it to be — you have never lost sight of doing what you felt was right in order to create the world you wanted to be a part of.

You voted in your first presidential election. And what an election year it was. I was so proud watching you fill out your ballot and I was even more proud to hand-deliver it to the absentee box at the town hall. You were an informed voter, taking care to know what the issues are and watching debates and studying the issues on the ballot. Goodness knows, so many others voted without even knowing a fraction of what you took the time to learn. It gives me hope for the future, that your generation is watching, studying, learning. That we might find change and hope from those who have endured so much at such a pivotal time in their lives and found ways to make the world a lot better than the one they were handed.

It was hard having you away at college. I knew it would be. I tried to find the balance but I know I still texted too much. I was sorry your year was hard but I was also glad when we were able to cram everything — including your minifridge! — in my Prius to bring all of it, and you, home for the summer.

And now you’re here. You’ve got a job that you’re good at, with people that you like. You’re looking ahead to your sophomore year and hopefully it’ll be better knowing that little by little, pieces of a new normal are starting to emerge. There is so much beautiful life ahead — and hopefully the struggles of this year are one day mostly a memory of a building block that made you into more of the strong and amazing young woman you already are.

I have always been tremendously proud of you. It’s funny, when you come home with a tiny baby, you have no idea what the future holds. You’re up all night, you’re exhausted, and a future where that baby in your arms is off doing her own thing and making her way in the world isn’t even a blip on your mental radar. But the days are long and the years are short, and watching you grow up and raising you into this amazing human has been such an honor.

I love you so much, and I am so lucky to be your mom.

Love you lots and lots of tater tots,


To My Daughter on Her 15th Birthday

Dear Pumpkin,

Happy 15th birthday, sweetpea. Your birthday kind of snuck up on me this year – what even is time during this whole pandemic mess? But I’m still so excited to celebrate you today and wish you were waking up here at home so we could begin the day with celebration… just like we did 15 years ago.

Well – I was joyful but probably too tired right away to celebrate, but I was so glad you welcome you into this world. You arrived quickly and without much fuss. Punctual since day 1, you were.

As I type this, you’re about a month away from starting your sophomore year of high school. Who knows what that will look like? At the moment, we’re hoping you can get back to school — even if it means you’ll be wearing a mask. We talked about the option of virtual learning, and you’d rather not go that route. I’m nervous about you going back to school with all of this stuff going on, but I respect and understand that it is your preference and I know that getting your education from computers isn’t ideal for you.

Before all hell broke loose, your freshman year was a good one. You got straight A’s. You were involved in both the play and the musical. I’m so very glad that the cast got to perform the musical for its full run before school shut down. Your Odyssey of the Mind team performed at Regionals, and you advanced to State. State was inevitably canceled due to the virus and all of that chaos. I hate that you had to miss that because your team was doing well and you were having so much fun.

You have a delightful group of friends — they are creative and funny and they are unique and I love that you’ve found a tribe of people who you connect so well with.

You are outspoken and are not afraid to call something out if it’s stupid or wrong.

You are the kind of creative wonder that makes your English teacher say things like, “I just want to take a tour of her brain and see how it works” and telling me that you’re one of the most creative writers she’s ever taught. And that makes me smile because I know that your writing is so meaningful to you and it’s something you’re so good at that it feels fantastic to be recognized for it. I hope that it continues to be something that brings you joy because I really admire that about you.

You’re smart and you don’t shy away from participating in class or from asking questions when there’s something you don’t understand and I think that’s pretty great, too.

The past few months have been hard for you. It’s boring to be home. It’s boring to not go anywhere or spend time with friends. The last bit of school was weird. Unexpectedly, the year ended and when distance learning began, your teachers were mostly MIA with assignments that maybe filled an hour of each day. The loss of routine and focus has been hard, and though I’m grateful to have the time at home with you and your sister right now, I know that you’d rather we could do fun things instead of me chugging away at work in the home office. It feels a bit like we’re all grounded.

You should be starting driver’s training now, but there’s a waiting list and who knows when that will be. But it’ll happen – we’ll get there. It’s okay because right now you’re not super eager to get behind the wheel, but I think it’ll be exciting once you start.

In a month, your sister will go to college. It’ll be just the two of us on our own — it’s never been just us. I am afraid I will drive you crazy, But we will find our momentum and our groove. Life has thrown a lot of change at us the past several months, and I guess the changes will keep coming but I think we’ll be a good team and we’ll adapt and make the most of what we’re faced with.

You’re starting the day with your dad but I’m very much looking forward to you coming home to celebrate with me and your sister. I’m excited for your birthday, to share devil’s food cake with buttercream frosting covered in coconut. I am so glad I get to be your mom and your birthday is a lovely day for me to celebrate one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

I love you with my whole heart and I am so very very lucky to be your mom.

Happy birthday <3

I love you!

To My Oldest on Her 18th Birthday

Happy 18th birthday, sweet girl. I can’t believe this day is here. 

So, here’s the thing: For all of these years, I’ve been looking forward to today, to giving you these letters. In my head, I imagined you would appreciate the sentimentality… but you got your time capsule from school a few weeks ago, and you haven’t even opened any of those letters, so I suspect that you’ll look at these and feel just completely annoyed.

Win some, you lose some, I guess. 

This was not how I pictured this time in your life, and I know it’s not how you pictured it either. And yes, I find it so cosmically unfair that so many things are left undone at the moment. That we haven’t been able to celebrate, that your school hasn’t stepped up to the plate and done a better job (or, you know, ANYTHING AT ALL) to truly acknowledge your class and this big milestone. This was supposed to be all done – but there are loose ends all over the place, and who knows when they’ll be tied.

That sucks. Graduation was a bust and you’ve barely gotten to spend the time with your friends like you should be. And I’m hoping with all of my heart that something happens soon so you can close this chapter and just start looking forward to the next.

Because I’m so excited about what comes next for you. At this point last year, you weren’t yet excited about the prospect of going to college and then over the summer, you truly started getting excited about it. And then you crushed all things by earning a massive scholarship. I know you struggle with bragging about that – but it’s a huge deal, and I’m so proud of you. At the end of four years, when so many of your classmates will be saddled with student loan debt, you get that chance to start that next chapter with very little debt at all – if any. And that will be huge in the future as you decide where you want to be and what you want to do. You won’t be shackled with that monstrous weight — and why? Because you have worked SO HARD through high school to become the exceptional young lady you are — a strong leader, a compassionate human, an empathetic friend, a helper, and just all around smart cookie. I am so very proud of you.

I have loved every year and every moment watching you grow into who you are. Watching you on stage, lighting the way, has always taken my breath away. Your confidence and grace amaze me — and while I have no idea where it came from, I am glad that you have it, because it will help you in so many ways, wherever you go.

This year you’ll get to vote for the first time and while I am sorry your options aren’t better, I am also confident that you will always take this responsibility seriously and that you will make educated and thoughtful decisions every time you cast your vote. 

I know it’s hard to feel excited about stuff right now, because it feels like the universe is just being a butthead, but despite the current situation and how tough it’s been, I remain excited for you, for your future and what it holds. 

I was thinking the other day of when you were an infant — of the first time I saw your name printed on something that I didn’t write. It was a prescription label, I think. Probably for eye drops. But seeing your name in print, this name I gave you, was a moment of, “She’s mine, this person…” And though I no longer get excited about prescription labels, I do still get a rush of realizing that this person I created is now this totally awesome human adult person. How on earth that happened, I don’t know – but it did and here we are.

I was going to say something about this year ahead and you going off to college, but then I realized that I would end up crying while typing this, so maybe I’ll just skip that part. But I hope you know that the door is always open for you (and your laundry), and I’m glad you won’t be that far away but I’m excited to watch you find your wings because the world is ready for your magic and I can’t wait to see what you do.

Usually I tell you more of what happened during the year — but, well… you know what’s happened this year. It’s all recent enough, you’ll remember.

Happy happy birthday to you. Today, we’ll have your friends come over and, with everyone six feet apart, we’ll have cake and we will celebrate you. I know it’s a weird celebration, but I’m glad we can do something — and I hope you feel loved every moment of today… and every day.

I love you lots and lots of tater tots and I am – as I’ve always been – so very lucky to be your mom. Now go take this world by storm. You’ve got this.


Thursday Ten: Sheltered in Place Edition

  1. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written here and I told myself that one of my goals for this week would be to try to start writing again – someway, somehow. So here I am, reviving this space – at least for today. I have missed writing. I’m not sure I have something to say that’s different from anything the rest of you are saying right now, but here I am anyway.
  2. It’s been nearly a month since the shelter in place order became a reality in Michigan. And for now, we’re two weeks away from a review of the status. Will it be lifted or extended? I have a hard time feeling optimistic, if I’m being totally honest. I want to believe any little glimmer of hope I can hang on to, but I also know that even if the SIP order is lifted, we’re a long way from the sort of normal we used to know. I wonder what that will look like when it happens.
  3. I’m lucky to be working from home and I know that so many people aren’t as lucky. I’m working hard right now – and long hours. I read a stat yesterday that said that although the stereotype is that people who are working from home are hanging out and watching Netflix, the actuality is that they are often working longer hours because it’s tough to turn work “off.” And this is without the benefit of being able to gab with coworkers off and on throughout the day for a breath of fresh air —though we are making use of Slack and Zoom like the rest of the world. (Sidenote: I hate Zoom. You know it’s a Zoom meeting day when my hair isn’t in a ponytail.)
  4. Oh yeah, I’ve let it all go. Most days, I’m wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. In the past month, I’ve bought two pair of joggers, gotten several pair of leggings, and while I”m comfortable, it’s a whole look. I mean, I’ve taken to doing squats and pushups during the day, so I need pants that move with me, but frankly I’m not sure how I’m ever going to get used to wearing real pants all the time again.
  5. There’s some struggles here as well, though. One of the biggest challenges through all of this is that The Princess, in her senior year of high school, is missing EVERYTHING. There will be no prom, who knows when the graduation ceremony will be, and basically, they’re done with school already. All that’s left is AP tests and her online class. Yeah, she had her last day of high school ever and didn’t even know it. It stinks to have come this far and to have worked so hard, and to lose all of those milestones for this year. And already, college orientation will be a virtual event instead of a weekend at her future college… and that’s a bummer, too. It all just sucks and I’m sad for her and the rest of the class of 2020.
  6. I have already watched all of “Tiger King” (ugh) and am currently binging “All American.” What are you watching while stuck at home? I’m also three episodes into “Little Fires Everywhere” but somehow keep forgetting about Hulu so I may never finish.
  7. I’m not reading as much as I would like to be, though. Trying.
  8. All the races have been canceled but I’m trying to keep my mileage up. Another perk of working from home? Being able to hit the treadmill for a lunchtime 5k.
  9. Another fun gem for staying at home? Cards Against Humanity Family Edition. You’ll get a hand cramp cutting all the cards out but it’ll be worth it.
  10. Dang, I really did plan to use all my vacation time this year. Don’t think that’s gonna happen. Sigh. I’ve already missed out on a trip I was very much looking forward to (and four days off), so… I think I’m going to take tomorrow off. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything, because… stay home… but a day may do some good.

Happy 14th Birthday, Kiddo

Dear Pumpkin,

As I write this, you are talking to me about making sure we have blankets and bottles of water in the basement in case there is a tornado. There’s not currently any weather going on, but it’s what’s on your mind right now. You’ve definitely got my tendency toward worry and so I’m glad you’re telling me what’s on your mind, even if it’s stuff I can’t fix.

You’re fourteen today. Holy bananas. I still remember the day you were born, watching Mork & Mindy in the hospital with the doctor before you were born, not that there was much time for that. It was a fast labor, and an early morning and for years after, you were such a morning person and I always thought, “She’s just gonna be an early bird for all her life…” But you got trickier to wake up this year – yay teenagers!

You graduated from eighth grade this year and in a month, you’ll be heading off to your freshman year of high school. You really started to find your stride this year, you found a great group of friends, and you caught your groove. It was really lovely to see. You have this group of friends who are creative and weird and funny and I’m happy to see you with your tribe.

You continued to rock your classes, bringing home fantastic grades, seemingly without trying. I know that the rules and requirements – classes you have to take, things you have to do – annoy you. Authority is not your favorite thing. Well, you’re just not a fan for a rule without a reason. It’s not uncommon to explain something to you or tell you about a rule and have you respond, “Well… that’s stupid.” Yes. Sometimes the world is stupid. You don’t want to do something just because you should. You don’t want to just accept that something should be done because it always has been.

You are a theater nerd extraordinaire. You’re always listening to musicals on Spotify. You listen to stuff I’ve never even heard of. I feel like we should go see more shows.

You don’t like cleaning. Or doing laundry. Or cooking.

Singing is your favorite and you’ve had a lot of fun in voice lessons over the past year. It’s given you a bit more confidence and you’ve tried out for roles in shows at school – I was always too shy to do that. I am always so proud to see you go after what you want. This summer, you spent a week at theater camp and you came home at the end of each day just completely wiped out. The choreography was intense and I couldn’t believe that they were teaching kids such difficult stuff to learn in a week and yet you put in 110% every day and you had so much fun at show time.

You can be tough as nails and angry and grumpy.

You can be soft and vulnerable and loving.

I suppose those flip sides of the same coin should be expected when raising teenagers, and teenage daughters, at that – but the loving side is easier for me and I try to not be frustrated with the grumpy side because I know it will pass. (Am I successfully in my attempts to avoid frustration? Uh. Not always.)

I think you are just the neatest. You are lovely and you have the most magical blue eyes I’ve ever seen.

Last night you said to me, “Mom, you do a lot of jobs. You are our therapist. Our taxi. Our chef. You do a lot. We don’t even PAY you. Why do you do it?” I do it because love. Because I love you and your sister so much. I am so very lucky to be your momma.

Happy birthday, Pumpkin.

I love you.

To My Daughter on Her 17th Birthday

Dear Princess,

Today, you turn 17. I debated, briefly, the idea of giving you all of these letters this year. I thought, well… I’ve waited long enough. But then I realized that next year, you will turn 18 just days after graduating high school, and I like the idea of these being some quasi-graduation-birthday gift.

I am already starting to make myself crazy, as you know, thinking about what is ahead for you this year. As I write this, you have four days of school left, four days until you are officially a senior. I don’t entirely know what to do with that notion. I am both tremendously excited for you, and overwhelmed with emotion. We talk about college and I think of the house without you and while I know that this is what I’ve raised you for – to spread your wings and soar – I am also happiest when my birds are in their nest, so to speak. Guess you and I will both do some growing this year.

You continue to amaze me – you always have. Just this week, you conducted an interview with a local coffee shop owner as part of an assignment for your AP Composition class. Later that morning, I went in to pick up a cappuccino. I thanked him for taking the time to meet with you, and he was overflowing with compliments. “She is so great,” he said to me.

“I know,” I responded. “I’m kind of a fan.”

Would I have ever had the guts to do that sort of thing when I was in school? I don’t think so. And while I know that sometimes it’s not the most comfortable thing, you do the dang thing, and you convey this sense of self-assuredness, confidence.

But, I also see the other side. The sensitive side. That side that reminds me that beneath that old soul, you’re still a kid who is finding her way. Who can have her feelings hurt sometimes. Who trusts that people will care as much as you do, even when sometimes they quite clearly don’t have the same kind of heart.

It’s a struggle, as a mom, to see your kids when they hurt but I feel hopeful that each experience helps shape you into the young adult who is constantly impressing me with her caring nature, thoughtful heart, and wicked sense of humor.

And oh, that sense of humor. You make me laugh. Your observations on people and on life are spot-on, a bit sarcastic, and can be biting in the best way. You are a quick thinker, and it’s that quickness that is so delightful.

A year with your driver’s license and I think you’re one of the best drivers I know. You are cautious but not obnoxiously so. You don’t drive in the left lane for no reason. Whew.

You’re a hard worker. On top of school and extracurriculars, you have been coaching gymnastics. I know it was a hard transition to go from competing to just coaching, but I think you’ve handled it well. Your gymnasts are lucky to have you. This year, they offered you a different coaching position but I’m glad you’ve turned it down. It was a wise decision and it will allow you more freedom to be involved with the musical and play at school.

Without gymnastics, you had the time to tackle a new sport. And within months of essentially picking up a tennis racket for the first time, you had an awesome season. I’m looking forward to seeing where you take it – you’ll take some lessons this summer, and keep on practicing. “I just don’t like to be bad at things,” you told the coaches. If they were thinking of underestimating you, I wonder how long it took them to realize you meant it – that you would get better at this sport, and you weren’t interested in just giving yourself time, you put in the WORK.

Your least favorite class has been pre-calculus and I can’t even blame you and I am fairly certain I haven’t used calc since college, so I know you’ll be fine. You’re rocking your fourth year of Spanish, and you’ve mentioned you think you’ll minor in it when you go to college. I love that.

Where will you go to college? I guess I’ll know by the time I write next year’s letter but for now, you’ve mentioned a few and we’ll get going on college visits soon. Ann Arbor has your attention, and I can’t blame you.

Seventeen years ago, my life changed. You and your sister keep changing my life, every day, all the time and in so many ways. It’s not always easy, but I am so very much grateful for every second of it. I am the luckiest mom in the world to be raising you guys, and I know sometimes it seems I’ve forgotten (like when the sink is full of dishes and someone has forgotten to add milk to the grocery list), but I am always aware.

I like to celebrate that especially on your birthday.

Happy Seventeen, sweet girl. I love you with my whole heart, and I am so very lucky to be your momma.


A Letter To My Daughter as She Turns 13

Dear Pumpkin,

As of just a few minutes shy of 6 a.m., you are officially a teenager.

Holy moley.

I don’t even know how that happened or where time went (I know, I say that every year). We are just a few weeks shy of the beginning of eight grade and you are so excited for school to start. Admittedly, it hasn’t been an exciting summer. I’ve been busier than usual and we’ve been unable to find time to get away just yet. But in addition to the boredom, you miss your friends.

This is the year you’ve found your tribe. I’m so excited for you – it’s such an awesome thing to find your people and to develop those friendships. You’ve found a delightful group of creatives and big thinkers and I’m so glad for you to have found that. So you’re ready to get back to school and begin the new year, this last year of middle school (YIKES).

I have two teenage daughters. Whoa. And it’s been an adventure – I won’t pretend that there aren’t some moments that make me want to roll my eyes or pull my hair out. I’m sure you girls have those kind of moments about me, too. But I like seeing who you are becoming.

You are a straight A student. A creative writer. You are terrified you might accidentally plagiarize someone even though you pride yourself on your originality. You are worrisome. You are bold in thought. You are comfortable disagreeing with people. You are passionate about doing what’s right. You wish people were nicer to honey bees. You love English and don’t love math. You want to be on stage some day and have taken voice lessons this summer. You seem to keep forgetting how to do laundry. You are on that line where you struggle with wanting to grow up and wanting to be a kid. You are loving. You want your space. You are an empath. You love Broadway showtunes. You want to travel someday (and now).

I’m really excited for you, about you. You are going to do big things.

This year was a year we’ll probably never forget. In March, you were walking across the parking lot at school and you were hit by a car. (I know you know this, but by the time you read these letters you may have forgotten when it happened). Anyway, in March you were hit by a teen driver who somehow didn’t see you crossing. (I don’t know how, I really don’t). I will probably never forget the call as long as I live, your sister calling to tell me you were fine but that you’d been hit by a car. She was sobbing, so of course I couldn’t really believe you were fine. My coworker drove me to the hospital and I beat the ambulance there – and the wait was torturous. I just needed to see you.

And of course, since I’m writing you this, obviously you WERE indeed fine. They were able to rule out an ankle fracture though it was quite deformed (and badly sprained) and you spent the next several weeks on crutches physically recovering, while I remained an emotional wreck. I mean, I’m still a wreck, if you must know. The whole time, you had such a good attitude. You never seemed upset or mad. You had a performance for your Odyssey of the Mind team two days after wards. Anyone would have understood if you didn’t show up – but you were there, wheeling on a knee scooter, showing up and being there for your team despite the pain you were in. And a week later, you were on stage in your school play – ON crutches that were three inches too tall for you! – because you still wanted to be a part of it all. I don’t know if I can even explain how proud I was of your ability to push through it all – and stunned, too. You could have taken the easy route, but it never even crossed your mind.

I really admire that about you.

You are strong and you stand your ground and for that reason, you can be difficult sometimes but I know how well that will serve you in life (even if it’s a challenge now!).

I’m very excited for you, for this year, and for what is ahead.

You are an amazing dreamer, and daring creative, and a beautiful soul. I love you so very much.


Happy birthday, sweet girl. I’m so lucky to be your mama,