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A letter to my daughter, on this day, her 13th birthday....

Beautiful People! benvenuta/benvenuto (Welcome)

"Children make your life important." -Erma Bombeck

Let's go...

13 years

156 months

4,475 days

107, 400 hours

This is how long I have been a mother to Tai Tallulah Belle (affectionately known as Lulu) Smith.

To say I am blessed is an understatement. My daughter has cornered the market on perfection when it comes to being a daughter. I could not possibly be more proud; I have been given the privilege to witnessing her growth, putting effort into shaping her into the remarkable young woman she is fast becoming.

There is just something about her turning thirteen......THIRTEEN!! She is now a teenager; real talk, my stomach is in knots. It isn't as though I did not know the day would come or that she isn't every bit growing into her new "older" self; it is that there is a part of me dying to keep her tiny; those beautiful eyes filled with nothing but trust, as her hand seeks mine for comfort.

I will confess, there is an inherent beauty and true gift in being able to observe her as she becomes comfortable in her own skin; stretching to fit her surroundings, fighting within her heart and mind to find the right path. I do my best to quietly guide her when she needs it without being imposing, to hold my tongue when I know the lessons she is living must be learned through experience not simply directed by one who has already lived it.

Miss Ladybug,

At 13 you are every bit the treasure today as you were when you were placed in my arms 4, 475 days ago. You were everything then, you are everything now. By everything, I mean all that I hope a human being I raise will grow up to be above all else, kind. Ladybug, you are so VERY you! it is a joy and honor to witness you make up your mind, have an opinion, fight for it, believe in yourself, and fight for that too. There are some traits I firmly believe as your parent I can teach you: kindness, respect of others, gratitude and others you likely will find in nature of yourself: a willingness to forgive, to fight for what you are passionate about, to take a deep breath and walk away when others disagree as well as to know in your heart of hearts that the right decision is often the hard one, but the one that will allow you to sleep at night.

You make me proud, so very proud.

Delightful. Dynamic. Dreamer. Deserving. All this, all you. You delight me; I love your heart, your enthusiasm, your sense of humor, that gregarious laugh. Your energy is boundless; your heart for your crew of friends is endless. You dream big, you go after those dreams, you add to your list and keep going. You deserve to keep succeeding and I will be here to help make it happen.

Extraordinary. Enthusiastic. Empowering. Entertaining. I am as you refer to me, your "birth giver" so I'm a little biased; you are EXTRAORDINARY. You continue to empower yourself to be yourself; you are tough, resilient, at such a young age with a mature soul and "woke" spirit. I learn from you just as you from me.

Authentic. I am keeping this in a category all by itself, as it is by far one of my favorite things about you. YOU ARE YOU. At 13 you aren't influenced by others the way I was at your age. You truly look inward, decide what matters to you, and stick with it. I am in awe of you. If I could bottle this trait, I would sell it to every teenage girl on the planet. Your sense of conviction is beyond your years, evidenced in your blooming activism and social justice responsibility. Keep standing up for what you believe in; it is the core of your strength.

Everything. Yes, I am back to everything. There isn't a mother on this earth who doesn't want the best of everything for their child. I wish you everything: hard times-so you know how to pick yourself back up. Good times-so the joy is real, the laughter is big and the happy is a memory you will carry with you. Loyal friends-so you value the treasure that is "people who get you". Those who disappoint-so you understand the value of loyalty thus will seek it out. Big losses-so you learn how to regroup, evaluate, and be better. Big wins-so the losses will feel like a stepping stone and the people who supported you during the losses and wins will still be your people. Love-because we all deserve it, but it will take a while and a few frogs to get there.

You are so very loved. I am honored that you trust and talk to me about anything and everything (even when you know I cringe at some of the everythings you tell me). I am grateful that you continue to confide in me and hope that you will always trust that my space for you is safe, unconditional, and free of judgment. However more than anything, I need you to know that YOU ARE LOVED. No matter your decisions, your wins, losses, your good and hard times, you will always be loved by me.

The little girl who took my breath away 13 years ago

156 months

4,475 days

107, 400 hours

I love you Ladybug,

From your "birth giver"


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