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.

Lava.

Thursday Ten, It’s MY BIRTHDAY Edition

1. Thank you so much to my BFF who took me to Coldstone for lunch where I had a “For Coffee Lovers Only” (but of course) – coffee ice cream, almonds, Heath bar pieces, and I think caramel. Soooo good. She also gifted me with a bag of Tootsie Pops and a super cool whatchamacallit that says “Believe” for my office. My sis has it tattooed to her arm – for me, I prefer the desk decoration. Very thoughtful, very cool. She ALSO (because she is truly awesome) made a collage for her 365 pics that’s all pics of me. Holy crap. That was a stumble down memory lane this morning. But, it meant the world to me and made me smile and she included pictures from one of the most gruesome days of her life because I think I look cute in them – so thank you.

2. Me and my friend also went to Costco because nothing says “happy birthday” like an economy size bucket of Tide and a six-pack of dental floss.

3. My new music this week… Oh good lord. I hate to admit that I’ve been listening to Britney’s “Womanizer”. Also picked up “Fearless” by Taylor Swift, “Hare Krisna” by Thievery Corporation, and Amy McDonald’s “Run”. (The last two were free – I love the Tuesday pick from Starbucks – free music – wheeeeee).

4. Season Finale of Project Runway last night. Well, shoot. I don’t even know what to say. I didn’t love the final collections of ANY of the three remaining designers. I liked bits and pieces. It’s not like last year when I was totally in love with Christian’s fierceness. Or when I was on the edge of my seat rooting for Daniel Vosovic. I was… meh. I didn’t care. And actually, though the cohesion would have been shot, if I could have taken bits and pieces of the collections and shoved them together, that would have been the ideal situation for me.

5. It is rumored that my grandfather is getting sent home today. That would be the most awesome birthday present ever.

6. Fun gifts so far – The Princess made me a cool candlestick type thing. It’s cool. She MADE the sucker, so that’s awesome. She also made me a card – and that’s my favorite card yet today. Also loving my iTunes gift card.

7. Going out to dinner tonight. Not sure where, but I just pretty much put my foot down. I am not cooking on my birthday. The kids are going too – so it’ll be chaotic and goofy. Pretty much like life usually is.

8. I only watched about the last 30 minutes of last night’s debate, obviously. It was listen to bickering and back biting or watch Project Runway. I am guessing I didn’t miss much.

9. I learned “Silent Night” in guitar lesson today. It’s easier than “O Holy Night” so I’m thrilled.

10. So, I stopped to get coffee today and the barrista today was this little dude. I’m guessing he was 20ish. He looks super young. He usually works mornings, so I wasn’t surprised to see him. I was surprised to get a bunch of his personal life info when I asked how his day was. But, hey to the guy at Starbucks who is getting allergy testing this afternoon – hope it comes out the way you want it to.