A *Belated* Letter to my Daughter on her 11th Birthday

Her birthday now and forever (while we are in this school district) falls during spring break – and this year, the resort wifi was unsecured and a bit problematic, so this post is late but well-intentioned.

Dear Maddie,

Happy 11th birthday, sweet girl.

Every time I look at you, I marvel at the young woman you are becoming. While forever our baby, you are no longer our little girl (and recoil at the word on many levels.)  Every day you show us another bit of  independence, but you still reach out for our help. This push and pull has framed your last year as you struggle to find a balance. Keep working at it – you are doing wonderfully, and need only to give yourself a break from time to time, because you are harder on yourself than any other person could ever be.

Before our eyes you have transformed from a stubby-legged, stubborn toddler to a leggy tween, still strong-willed but more curious and silly than ever. You are delightful, adventurous and quirky. You may chafe at the latter term at times, but it is one aspect of your personality that I hope you never, ever let go. As you approach your tween years, the pressure to conform will grow, and I hope you rail against it – you, with your mismatched socks,  strong opinions and stronger sense of right and wrong.

Your boundless interests – dance, lacrosse, reading, art, crafting, science, and animals – and your endless curiously continue to delight us. You are far braver than I ever was at your age, and your adventurous nature (and strength to overcome your fears) will serve you well as you tackle these last years before teen hood.

What I love most about you is your big heart. Your care for your friends, how you stand up for them, how you extend yourself to help them – from wearing a helmet on the lacrosse field just so the friend that needs to wear one for her safety won’t feel the odd one out, to defending a friend even though it puts you in the sights of the “mean girls” at school – you love and give unabashedly. Your gentle, kind and loving heart is on your sleeve, and sometimes leads to hurt and sadness because not everyone else is as kind, so know that we are always here for a shoulder to cry on (or a hug – or just to give you space until you are ready.)

You are growing into a remarkable young woman and it is a blessing and a delight (and sometimes not without frustration) to travel this road with you. We love you loads. Happy 11th birthday.

11th birthday

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