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.

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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