childhood, family, inspirational, Instructional, love, motherhood

To my Daughter, on the Occasion of her 17th Birthday,

I don’t anticipate that you will read this, or understand. Actually, in some ways I hope you never understand.

It’s difficult, to tell you what you need to know, since you are so distant now. Perhaps I should have said more, sooner, but your childhood was precious to me, and I did not desire to tarnish it too soon. You’ve gotten to be the All-American Princess and that has been a joy.

For you I wish only happiness and success in life, to never know the purifying effects of the fire, the pain of being broken and remade, and the hand of God being the only thing that keeps you whole.

I suppose there is little enough I can do at this point. I’d tried to send you letters but knew you would never read them – if, indeed, you received them at all. I’ve thought about sitting down over coffee (or tea) with you and actually hearing your voice, but I’m not allowed to see you. I know you think that is your decision, but it’s not your voice that has refused me, and that concerns me to the soul.

So, then, this…

Know that I shall always love you. I’m your mother, that’s not a bond that can be broken. When you need me again, I’m here.

As you go on in life, know that you can do anything you truly want to accomplish. You’ll never be too old, too untalented, and certainly not too stupid.

Never let anyone tell you that you are stupid. 

Never let anyone tell you that you are useless, worthless, or crazy. Never let them destroy the trust you have in yourself. If you stop feeling you can trust yourself, trust God. He is there.

Never let anyone tell you to defer your dreams to make theirs come true first. This isn’t selfishness on your part – asking it is selfish of them and a big clue that it is time to walk away. The only reason to put life on hold is to care for the person who won’t – or can’t – ask. And that person won’t use their status as your husband/boyfriend/partner to pressure you into giving up what you want in life.

Never let anyone strike you and then tell you that they love you. True love does not come to insensate blows. True love does not beat their pregnant wife while she hides on their bed, for hanging a shirt backwards in the closet. True love does not chase their beloved screaming through the house until they have cornered her and she falls at their feet fainting, then drag her by the hair across the room. True love does not tell their beloved that the reason they want to kill themselves is that she has failed in her duties. True love does not tell the mother of their children that they would be better off if she were dead. True love does not ask the unthinkable and take by force what was given them in marriage. You have many who love you and will protect you if you find yourself alone and hurting. Do not let him convince you otherwise!

Never accept empty threats without question. This is the 21st Century, darling, he cannot have you locked up in an asylum no matter how much he threatens… and you are not crazy. Trust me? Once? He’s not your mental better even if he is bigger and stronger than you are.

Know that you are cherished, not just by me, but by many. All are willing to help you with your burdens should they seem overwhelming. Many hands make light work… you have family, you have friends. Have the courage to ask when you need help.

In Art, as in life, you will make mistakes. The trick is learning how to find the joy in those errata and accept them into the harmonious whole of the composition. Life does not come equipped with erasers. Your life is full of joy and beauty, you only need look to find it. I cannot find it for you, nor can anyone else. It is yours and yours alone.

You are your own person. You are not the property of anyone else. Never forget that. Walk the paths God has laid for you, not the ones others would push you onto. You’re living your life, not giving them vicarious pleasure.

It’s a funny place, this thing we call adulthood. You’re entering it blithely, and rightfully so. But never forget that life is all about choices, and you are the one who will have to live with the choices you make from here on out.

Not much more I can say. Don’t drink, not yet, and not until you’re 21, and don’t be like the young idiots I know who get plastered every weekend. There are more pleasant memories to carry you forward in life. Don’t do drugs. Silly to say – I can’t imagine you doing that, but then, I don’t know you any more. You wouldn’t, would you? And despite what you wrote me, I’ve never thought you were having sex – I don’t know who told that to you – you have your head screwed on straight. Don’t let a boy knock it loose. And if you do make that decision, don’t let him hold it over you and extort things from you.

I guess that’s all. I could go on, but it’s like throwing pieces of my heart into a black hole. They might reach some parallel universe somewhere, somewhen and do some good, but I don’t know and it hurts. Yeah, I guess that’s the last thing. Motherhood hurts.

But it’s totally worth it.



1 thought on “To my Daughter, on the Occasion of her 17th Birthday,

  1. You are a paragon of strength, and a good model for your children. You also made Charlotte cry when she read your letter. I don’t know whether hug you or do worse to those who hurt you.

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