Big week for you, kiddo. A week that has so far left you crying in the driveway, overwhelmed by its massiveness. Eighteen is rolling in as a tsunami: scholarship ceremony, new kickboxing addiction, admission to the University of Michigan, and a musical theater showcase that you were born to sing. I am happy to ride that wave with you, but the bittersweet thing about eighteen is that I can only watch from the beach.
Sometimes the hardest part about parenting is having to stand witness to your kid’s life. The hurts, which have certainly blindsided you this past year, the highs, of which there have been many… none of it is my own journey and yet it feels like somehow it must be. Learning, for me, to let go, to trust that you will leap into your divine adult self with perfect grace has been such an emotional lesson. I am proud of you. So proud. I am madly in love with you. I cannot imagine what it will feel like to drop you off in Michigan and walk away alone, except to say that I am never alone when it comes to you. You are always there, the current of my own heart.
Happy eighteenth birthday, darling, magical girl. I don’t have many words of advice. Vote, I guess. Seriously. Vote. Continue to stand up for yourself, to participate in discussions even when everyone else in the room doesn’t care to. Create, always. I have plastered the art room with the words, “Confidence is a choice.” I hope that mantra shows up again and again for you as you head into college. Be brave, baby girl. Leap.
I am so excited to watch you sing this Friday. I know you are scared to death. I know that the lyrics will make me cry. She Used to be Mine is a relatively heart wrenching song to sing solo in the spotlight right before your mom has to officially cut the cord. “Growing stronger each day ’til it finally reminds her to fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes that’s been gone, but used to be mine.” Are you trying to kill me? Sigh. I hope you do kill me (metaphorically). I hope you find that deep, honest space that resides somewhere in your belly and that you choose confidence. Sing the fuck out of that song, Lizzie. The girl who used to be yours deserves it. She is waiting.
You keep asking me why I am not crying all the time like I did when Luke was graduating. I get teary a bit now and then. I get sad when I know you won’t be around much longer to snuggle on the couch with me, drink wine, and watch stupid movies like Bad Moms Christmas. I know that I will feel your absence. Those feelings are being overshadowed by how excited I am for you. You are the kind of person that was born to have a big life. All fire. When you were little and playing volleyball I would sit on the bleachers and shout, “Be the spark, Lizzie.” You are indeed the spark. I am so looking forward to the fireworks display that the rest of your life holds.
I guess I do have more advice for your adult self. Never forget your worth. Don’t give into victim mentality. Be compassionate. Learn the difference early on between empathy and compassion early on. Have both, but know the difference. Don’t let empathy crush you. Never sacrifice your own vision for someone else. Be your own best friend. Trust your gut. Don’t leave a party alone. Look out for your girlfriends. Cover your drink with your hand and never take your eyes off of it. Drink water. Don’t leave your room so messy that you get bugs. I have so much advice I could fill a seven book series. I am trying to separate my advice from my fear. Most of those life lessons you will figure out all on your own, sometimes after making some really shitty decisions. Perfect. All of that is okay. If nothing else this year taught you to get back up again after getting all the wind knocked out of you.
Get up again, Lizzie. Again and again. Work with loving joy as you manifest a destiny that is your divine right. I am gonna miss you … your messes, your laugh, your firecracker self. When you miss me back, sink into your heart. I am there.
Cheers to the next four years, but mostly to the year ahead. May adulthood be kind.