It seems unreal. I cannot, I just cannot comprehend that by the time the sun rises tomorrow my baby, my first born, will officially be an adult. As I sit flicking through photos of the years that have flown by, I smile through the tears. Each photographs brings flashbacks, memories that pierce the Soul and have me yearning to relive them. The day you were born, the first chuckles, the toddler banter. You were the friendliest and easiest baby ever. And then you grew up; you took on the role of big sister and the years and the experiences began to mold you into someone who was tough, kind and smart.
And then the teenage years rolled in and you proved every notion about teenagers right. There were those days that you were moody and insolent, cheeky and daring! But we plodded through, loving you more than ever, trying our best to be ‘parent friends’, forgiving, coaxing, teaching, preaching, shouting, each side, both you and us exercising patience, tolerance and restraint until the cloud lifted and the innocence which was still so much a part of you shined through...until the next episode:)
But the memories that are the brightest are the ones of all the fun we had and the many important lessons you taught us. You introduced me to new authors and new bands, TV shows and stand up comedians. You started traditions, got us hooked to award shows and car pool karaoke. Together we loved Harry Potter and Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and Katniss Everdeen. Together we watched back to back clips of Ellen and stayed up nights watching ‘How to get away with Murder’- you in your room and me in mine, but still it brought us together and I will forever be grateful and cherish you sharing all this with me. 18 years with you. Every moment precious, every phase one great adventure.
And now you are going to be 18 and the world is out there waiting to be discovered. In spite of all the crap going on, believe me, it’s a wonderful world and the best years of your life are ahead. You are going to have experiences that will awe you, change you, challenge you. You will meet people that will almost break you, and others that will inspire you. Some will touch your soul and awaken emotions you never knew existed. The world is out there. Enjoy it. Be good to it. Take chances and soar high. And no matter what, tomorrow and the day after and every day after, remember that I love you in the fiercest sense, like only a mother can and that I will always be your biggest fan, your loudest cheerleader and the one shoulder you can always rely on no matter what.
Considering I have lived now in this awesome world for 42 years, and having had some pretty exciting adventures of my own, can I take the liberty of sharing 18 bits of wisdom on this your 18th birthday? (Disclaimer- much of this is not original advice. I have borrowed from the many wonderful writers/poets whose words have inspired and guided me through my life).
- You will realize that every situation doesn't need a reaction. Choose your battles wisely because there are only so many battles you can fight. Sometimes you just have to close an eye, leave things alone and let the stupid be.
- Everything is temporary, moments, feelings, people. It’s never early enough to realize that life is finite and fragile. Never take anyone or anything for granted.
- The most important dimension of love is giving and this can take many forms. Give and allow others to give you.
- Freshly baked chocolate brownies can fix just about anything and for those pains it can’t, there will always be your sisters or mom or dad at the other end of the phone.
- Learn to also be happy with little, because if it’s always not big enough, not bright enough, not comfortable enough, you will always feel cheated. Ultimately happiness lies in the small, numerous joys that are most often already there.
- Never betray your heart to quieten your head.
- You never need to peel away your layers to fit into the mold. You are perfect just the way you are. Believe it.
- Don't toughen yourself by desensitizing yourself. Feel deeply, let people know what they mean to you. Be bold in who and how you love. Say what you need to say, then say a little more. Say too much, show too much, love too much. It will never be in vain.
- Never say no to an adventure. Strive for a life that sizzles. Make your everydays count.
- When you have hard times, you will learn that no matter what there is always hope- believe that there is something beautiful in the horizon. And as much as you should be able to reply on friends and family, there will come a time when you will be on your own, so stay tough, stay resilient, be there for yourself, push yourself up and be your own best friend.
- The only opinion that matters is yours. If we have done our job well your conscience will always nudge you to do whats right. If you think you are doing the right thing, then you are.
- The darkest times can bring you to the brightest places. Hard to believe when you're weighed down, but trust me on this.
- The most toxic people can teach you the most important lessons.
- Don’t change your journey because the road ahead is unknown or challenging. Walk different paths so you can have thrilling and new life experiences.
- There will be times when all your instincts will tell you to do something that defies logic, upsets your plans and may seem just plain crazy. Listen to your instincts. Ignore logic, the odds,the complications and do it. It will be worth it.
- The way the world is right now, you will see more and more people normalizing hatred, being at ease with nastiness, and feeling united in their separation. Don’t stay quiet. Speak out, take a stand, don't let the bullies win. Be brave but be kind. Because every time you do, you will send out a ripple, making a difference one bully at a time.
- In life you will make friends out of strangers and strangers out of friends. Seek out the torch bearers, the magicians, the game changers. Find your tribe. Allow them to challenge you, love you as you are; allow them to read your soul and lift you up.
- And when you are anxious breathe, don't doubt your resilience. It may feel unbearable right now but breathe and breathe again. You are strong. It will pass. I promise it will pass.
Happy Birthday. I love you. Don’t party too late:)