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,


About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.

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