Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Do You Tell a 13 Year Old Girl Who Knows Everything?

Dear Freckles,

You've been asking me for a few weeks now if I wrote your birthday letter yet. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.

Not yet.

I try to write these as close to your actual birthdays as possible, so I'm doing it now as I sit here on the eve of your day. Just before you asked, again today, if I'd written your letter yet, you asked another question. One that I couldn't answer off the top of my head.

You wanted to know what time you were born.

I knew that it was in the afternoon, I knew that it was a Sunday. I knew that we'd been to the hospital the night before having left a wedding in which your brother was the ring bearer. We walked in to triage, him still in his tuxedo.

They'd told me then that I could walk laps around the hospital, or I could go home and try to get some rest. I knew I wasn't sleeping either way, so it didn't matter much to me. I knew you'd be here soon. Late the next morning, after your uncle had driven down to take care of your brother, we left for the hospital again, knowing that when we came back home we'd live in a world with not just one child but two.

You came into the world that day at 4:10p.m. I dug out your baby book to check. I know you how you are with needing specifics.

You're thirteen now. Officially a teenager.

It doesn't even seem possible.

Some days I look at you and I still see the little girl with the long golden ponytails running around in circles.

Some days I look at you and see glimpses of the woman you are becoming.

Most of the time, I see both versions of you, simultaneously, all tied up in the same person.


I guess this means that you get to order from the adult menu now. I guess. Gosh.

You are still perfectly content to be trapped between childhood and adolescence in every way that doesn't involve menus, though, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

You aren't in a hurry to grow up, but then you never have been. You have always been my cautious one, though that probably comes as a surprise to most of the people who know you. Who you show to the world is often such a different person than who you are on the inside.

You come by that honestly, but I know that you know that.

I know you know.

I know.

You're almost as tall as I am anymore. I'm waiting for the morning when you wake up just beyond my height. I know it's coming, and sooner rather than later. I know that you'll remind me of it daily for a while once it happens.

So many changes are coming, whether you want them to or not. I know that even though there are days you urge that clock to run faster, most of the time you want it to slow down a bit.

At some point this year, you started emailing me. There are days that the only real interaction we have, you and I, aside from grunting and sighing, are those emails. Please never stop sending them, emojis and all. I'll be busy doing whatever else it is that I am doing, and know that when there's a message sitting in my inbox from you, it's a glance into your life in one of the most genuine forms. You make me laugh. God, do you make me laugh.

You've taken some steps, done some things that were scary this year, taken some chances, put yourself out there into an unfamiliar world. I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of you in those moments, because I know more than anyone else just how hard it is for you.

You do it anyway.

And whenever you take those risks, know that I'll be over here, far enough away to give you space but close enough that you'll always be able to find me, cheering you on.

I'll be doing jazz hands and making crazy faces at you...but you knew that already.

I love you, baby girl.

Stay funny, stay weird, stay you.

Happy birthday.


p.s. math homework is still the worst.

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