First and foremost, I love you. I really, truly, madly and wholeheartedly love you.
You are the most caring person I have ever met. You love your siblings, cousins, and the younger children of my friends. You are attentive to their needs and you are willing to play with them without acting like you’re too old or too cool to be involved with 7-year-olds. That speaks volumes of your character. Like I said, I love you ― yes, you.
The tides are changing. You’re getting older. You aren’t as interested in spending time on the couch watching a movie during our family nights. You are messy and you have a response for everything I ask and your responses are not always delivered politely. You are starting to be mean to your sister and bossy to your brother. You’re not a baby anymore.
You’re blossoming in eighth grade and even though you’re defiant at home, your teachers have nothing but good things to say about your character. And unlike your mother, your grades have not dropped since entering middle school. You’re still a straight-A student.
Parenting you is becoming harder each day. I want to give you everything in this world that will make you happy but I also don’t want to spoil you and make you think that you deserve everything you want simply because you want it.
It used to be easy. Your wants were minimal. You wanted to nurse longer than you probably needed to, you wanted an extra cookie after dinner, or five additional minutes of play time before bed. All of these things were easy to manage.
I could say no and not feel guilty or I could be a bad influence and let you have that extra cookie because let’s face it, I wanted one too. But now things are different.
Right now you still adore me, you still look up to me, you love your father, you care for your siblings and you are a part of our house. You are grateful to your family and have (mostly) good friends. You are a tomboy and you don’t care about makeup or clothes.
So today, before the s**t hits the fan, I want you to know a few things.
One: I will always love you. No matter what you do, no matter what piss poor decisions you make, you are always going to be my baby and I love you.
Two: I will never judge you for making bad decisions, but you must learn from them. You’re going to make bad decisions, everyone does. But if you don’t learn from them, then you will never improve. I will stand by you when you suffer from the repercussions of your bad choices and I will try my hardest to stand back and let you see how things could have been different.
Three: You can tell me anything. And I truly, honestly mean this even though deep down I know you don’t believe me. When I was younger, my mother told me the same thing and then I found myself in situations where I needed my mother and I was terrified to tell her the truth. Looking back I know that she really did mean what she said and even though part of me believes you won’t listen, I just want to put it out there and say that you really can trust me.
Four: Question everything and everyone, even me. Think for yourself, find your own path. This is your world just as much as it is mine and neither of us own it. Find your place in this world because of your own discoveries, not because of a path that I or anyone else wrote for you. Be your own Magellan.
Five: Fall in love but don’t rush your heart. My mother used to tell me that you never forget your first love and that no love after will be quite as intoxicating or consuming. There is no love quite like your first. And if you’re lucky enough to hold on to your first love, your love will eventually change and become admiration rather than intoxication. That is all OK.
Being in love is a beautiful thing but it can be painful too. I want you to fall in love and I want you to feel everything that I felt the first time I fell in love. But don’t rush your heart. You have so much time to fall in love and find the person who deserves your heart.
You will learn as an adult that there is something special about giving yourself completely to another person. Love is a beautiful and complicated emotion. Be smart when you find it. We don’t know who your first real love will be but I know we can’t wait to meet them.
Six: You will eventually love and cherish your sister. Trust me. I know you think she sucks right now and that you’re sick of sharing your room with her but one day, she will be special to you.
Seven: Don’t rush life. You are going to grow up. You’re going to be an adult eventually. Don’t rush it. Take a deep breath and enjoy all of your free meals and free room and board while it lasts. Trust me... pretty soon you will not have the luxury of knowing that there is always milk in the fridge and those crackers you love in the pantry.
I love you, Jade. You are my beautiful, kind, and creative daughter. No matter how old you get.