A Letter to My Daughter on Her 18th Birthday

There are few things that make me feel old. For the most part, my self esteem is pretty healthy, and I rarely let my six children’s frequent comments about my being 1000 years old get to me. Or my gray hairs. Or my wrinkling skin…

Where was I going with this? 

Ah, yes, few things that make me feel old…well, I always knew in the back of my mind that my oldest would someday turn 18. I also knew it would also be the same day I would escape to the nearest day spa to come to grips with this new reality in my life. I somehow didn’t take into account that that would require me leaving her with the kiddos so I could recuperate from this milestone birthday…so, I decided to go a different route. Write a letter to her.

That’s totally NOT embarrassing, right? 😉

Here goes:

My dear, sweet Ashley,

I still remember when you were just a few weeks old like it was yesterday. Men and women alike would come up and gaze into your stunning turquoise eyes and remark to me to enjoy that time. They grow up too fast, they said. Of course, I scoffed at them. Being such a young momma, I always felt like I had time on my side. There was no way I would miss those days of getting up in the middle of the night, the endless diaper changes, soothing those achy gums as new teeth broke through.


And, then, somehow, as if by magic, the time really did disappear.

Gone are the days when

you first crawled,

and pulled yourself up,

and took your first steps,

or said your first words;

rode your bicycle for the first time,

your first day of kindergarten,

your first ballet recital,

your field trip to the Kennedy Center,

your First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion,

your first retreat away from home,

and so many other milestone moments in your life.

It’s not like I can cradle you in my arms anymore – well, I mean, we could try. I have a feeling a lot of people would have something to say about that visual, though. And, thinking about it, I can totally see you rising to the challenge and letting me try to cradle you just for laughs.

I’ve heard it said the oldest kid is the one that parents use as their guinea pig. If she turned out ok, there’s a reasonable chance the others will survive to adulthood. I remember enrolling you in religious education halfway through your kindergarten school year. I was winning parenting awards that year, lemme tell ya! Anyhoo…I signed you up, but really I think I signed myself up. It was the beginning of the realization that I couldn’t stomach giving you answers to your questions about our Catholic faith such as “just because” or “it’s what we do” or “it’s tradition.”

You deserved better than that.

I started studying the Faith alongside you; you learned with childlike faith and I learned to shed the childish ways so I could give you {and your siblings} what you deserved. I knew that wouldn’t be enough, so I got to work praying, too. It’s true that parents often want their children to have more and better things than they did as children. Spiritually speaking, this should always apply. Materialistically speaking, not so much. I wanted the spiritual opportunities for you to be so abundant that you could literally have your pick of what you wanted to do.

And hooweeeee, did we get what we prayed for!

I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Most people count themselves rightly blessed when they have a family that is devoted to the faith and filled with joy and living out the life God has called them to. That, in and of itself, is a rare find. Not that I think our family is perfect {remember the family motto!!}, but after witnessing the affect our parish community has had on our family, and each of you kiddos, I feel like we couldn’t have asked for anything better. As activities and events wind down for SWYM and FISCHETeen, you and I are about to embark upon a project that will hopefully keep that fire in the belly for the Faith.

You’re no longer a little girl, but someone who has just blossomed into a stunningly beautiful young woman! I may not share this often, but I pray for you all the time. That the love for the Faith that you have carries you through these next several years. I pray the love of Christ carries you through the tumultuous times you are sure to go through. I pray you are always a beacon of Christ’s light.

If there is one thing I can pass on to you from my own life that I pray you keep in your life…remember what Mr. Noe Rocha says – do all things so as to glorify God. Whether you’re sweeping the floor for the umpteenth time, or struggling to do something nice for someone who has done wrong to you, or you want to hand out bags filled with essential items for the homeless, do it all because you seek to glorify our heavenly Father.

If the first child is the measure of how effective parenting was and will predict the outcome of the rest of the children, then I think based on what I know to be true about you, your inner and outer beauty, your love for God and friends, what my friends share with me about you and your dedication to serving our parish community, then I feel confident that the rest of your brothers and sisters have an amazing role model in you. 🙂

Better still, I know without a doubt,

were it not for your childlike faith in God,

you have made me a much better mom.

What a difference 18 years makes!

What a difference 18 years makes!

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