A Letter to My Natalie on Her 13th Birthday
Happy Birthday Nati-Patty…
13 Years ago (nearly, it’s not quite 11:59am yet) you were born. 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and just shy of 21 inches. You were perfectly adorable; and looked like a little alien with your big head and long limbs… From the word “Go,” you and I were fast friends… largely because you wouldn’t let anyone else hold you for more than a minute without throwing a fit. Even at your 1 month photo shoot; we had to take frequent breaks for me to hold you – you’re smiling in this picture, but it was 2 minutes after you were WAILING because I hadn’t held you/walked you around recently enough for your liking.
Yes, you always took the world on with your own terms in mind – your size and stature were completely irrelevant. As your Mother, that’s worried me from time to time – as there’s bound to come a day where that’s irrelevant only to YOU – but I’ve also always admired your determination… there’s something to be said for setting your sights on something & not giving up… knowing what you want & going to get it. You’ve always done a good job of this – but remember, it’s okay to NOT know the answers immediately & be a little perplexed now and again, too. There’s a lot of growth to be found in failure and “perplexed” makes for fun pictures!
You were such an adorable toddler & preschooler. You were completely enamored with the mirror; and anything that got you in front of it was a-okay with you! You used to put on this long string of fake pearls from the time you could toddle – just that and your diaper – and stare at yourself in the mirror and smile, sway, laugh.. for the LONGEST time… up to half an hour or so! You were big into dress-up and make-up & fun w/ your sister. You guys were fast friends – the best – and I loved watching the two of you play. Your sister was your first and best friend for many, many years – even when you two clash now… remember that. You’ll never have a friend that’s known you as long, or as well, as your sister has – that’s a special relationship I pray & encourage you to continue to work at. All good relationships take work, pumpykin… even family ones!
As a parent, you hope that your children will have natural tendencies that will help them get ahead in life. All children do, of course; it’s just a matter of which ones. You came into this world alert, aware and curious.. that’s never changed. I love your voracious appetite for learning & hope you never lose it! Remember, though; as you get older & the subjects get more complex? Studying is a GOOD thing… take time with it, enjoy that, too. There’s a certain pride that comes with doing it right; doing it perfectly (or as close to it as you can)… knowing you did your best and not just enough to get by. One of the dangers of being naturally smart is that things can come easily; and it’s easy to accept a “B” when you could have had an “A”… but that’s short-changing yourself. So… do yourself a favor and don’t.
You have, quite possibly, more energy than even I do & a natural ability to form friendships. I’ll never forget your 7th birthday party – where we had nearly 10 more guests than the 24 that was already on the list! You’ve always had a lot of friends and as a parent, I like that for you – but more than that? I’m proud at your ‘social’ conscience – you’ve done a great job, to date, of making sure that you treat other people fairly, kindly & that those around you do, too. The anti-bullying clubs you’ve formed; the way you stand up for others – that makes me so proud of you… it’s not enough to know what the right thing is in life… you have to act on it to reach your full potential. Keep it up, shortness & I suspect that doing right by yourself & others in this area will take you far in life (and make you feel good, too!).
Parents work with their children from ‘toddlerdom’ to teach them manners. Goodness knows I worried a little with your proclivity for swiping your fingers through the butter sticks and occasional drinking syrup through your preschool years! LOL Eventually, though, most kiddos learn the ‘prim & proper’ way of the world and lose a little bit of the “ham” that makes life fun. They grow up too fast – this one I was guilty of, too. While you, like me, are a social creature… you’ve done a great job of staying [and enjoying] being a kid. Keep the silliness; my hope for you is that you continue to enjoy these next few years at the pace they were intended.
Finally, I hope you continue to try new things – you’ve never been afraid of a challenge… while, if it comes from a place of conceit or bragging; the foundational pride in that can set you up for failure? Thus far, that doesn’t seem to be what motivates you (most of the time, anyway ;p ) & I’m glad for that. As you enter your teen years, there’s more to explore, try and do… you’ve got a good head on your shoulders & I trust that you’ll make good choices on what to get into and stay out of. But your family, especially your Dad, Sister, Grandparents, and I, are always here for a ‘pulse-check’ on anything you’re considering … so, keep talking to us, too!
Happy Birthday, Pumpykin… welcome to your teen years and I hope that they’re everything you want them to be and so much more. I’m really proud of the wonderful young lady you are and look forward to working with/watching you grow into an equally amazing young adult over the next few years! But for now? Let’s start with a Birthday Brunch… I’ve got reservations somewhere I know you love to go!
Love you forever & like you for always…