An Open Letter to My 16 Year Old Daughter

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To Amber, my “Berber” Baby…

Where do I even begin with the hopes and dreams that I have for your future? There are just so many things that I’d wish for your life; paths that I’d choose for you, if I were allowed to. Your life is your own, however, and though there may be rules and guidelines for you to follow now in an effort to steer you in the right direction, soon all I’ll be able to offer you is motherly advice. It will then be your choice to either heed or ignore it.

So as far as hopes go, I’ll start with the hope that you can one day see the beauty that lies in forgiveness. Finding the ability to forgive has been a huge struggle that you’ve faced for a while now. Let go of your anger toward others. You’ll love how free it will make you feel.  Always remember that people are just that; people. Imperfect beings. They will screw up. Try not to hold anyone to a higher standard than you would hold yourself. You don’t want to become a bitter, lonely woman someday because you have placed excessively high expectations on others, and are unable to forgive them when they can’t meet those expectations. There’s a saying that goes, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is very true. It will only hurt you if you can’t learn to let it go. I’d hate to see you leave nothing but a slew of failed relationships behind you because you’re unable to finally see what it means to forgive.

I also hope you dare to dream, but hope you never have that dream where you’re standing in the high school hallway naked while the other kids laugh and point. That’s a terrible dream. Yeah, don’t have that. Dream good dreams instead and focus them into your artwork. You’re an amazing artist already, and I’m in awe of your extraordinary imagination. You can do great things and go far with your God-given talent. Speaking of God, and I know you’ll probably just roll your eyes at what’s to come so I’ll try not to draw it out…

I hope you’ll one day turn to God and seek a relationship with Him. Desire His will for your life and know that He’s genuinely there for you and wants to bless you. I know that several “Christians” have hurt you in the past and have proven to be terrible examples of His love and compassion. Now you don’t want to even consider a relationship with God because you’re afraid that every move you’d make as a believer would cause you to be thrown under a microscope and judged, so you’ve turned away from faith completely. This all goes back to forgiveness, though, and how people are just people. The ones that point fingers are no better than anyone else. Remember that. It’s not about them, anyway. It’s about you and Him. God himself is not a bad dude, he’s just misunderstood.

I’m not going to go on to tell you that I hope you find someone…a partner in life that makes you happy. Happiness lies within you, and no single person on this earth can give that to you. I do, however, hope that you find someone that treats you with the respect that you deserve. You’re beautiful, inside and out. I’m aware that you know it, now, but I hope that no one ever crosses your path that makes you forget it. Never settle, either. Your perfect guy is out there, and he’ll be worth waiting for. Remember what I said about forgiveness when you do find him. You’ll need that to make it work.

At the same time, though, don’t allow yourself to become someone else’s punching bag, either physical or emotional. Learn where to draw the line. Never ever accept abuse as a way of life.

Last but not least, I hope you strive to be something more than I was. Advance your career. Make something of yourself. Never give up. More importantly, though, if you don’t happen to achieve all that you have planned, don’t allow yourself to be filled with regret. Try not to dwell on the “what ifs” like I have done. They’ll just tear you apart.

Do you remember the 6 years that I left you from the ages of 6 to 12? Yeah, so do I. I doubt I’ll ever forget. Your dad and I both wanted you. We always have. You weren’t some possession that I could just keep in my pocket, though, and the judge said that you were better off staying where you were, with him. I left anyway. You were in good hands. They just weren’t my hands.

I’m not sorry for that pivotal turning point in my life. I can’t apologize for the choice that I made to follow my heart.  I am loved more than I ever could have dreamed. I’ve found the other half that makes me whole. I will, however, always regret that we couldn’t be together during that time because, while I may have found one piece of my heart, I left another behind with you.

I’d call you during that time we were apart, and we would sing “You Are My Sunshine” together over the phone. Remember? We may not sing together anymore, but we talk now, and it’s nice, those heart to hearts. Mother daughter bonding chats. It can’t make up for the time that we lost, but I enjoy our close relationship now more than you’ll ever know. You’re still, and always will be the sunshine that brightens my life.

I’m pleased to see that you have finally grown into your own person. I have to admit that when you were younger, you simply, and blindly, followed the pack. What the crowd did, you did. How the crowd dressed, you dressed. What the crowd liked, you liked. Now, you’ve developed your own sense of style. You have your own likes and dislikes. You form your own opinions and have developed your own personality.  You have become you.

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While I cradled you in my arms as a baby, I daydreamed of who and what you would become. Where would your life lead you? I can honestly say that while you may not fit the exact profile of the future daughter I had created in my head then, you’re even better. You’ve grown to be even more beautiful, funny, talented, and loving than I had dreamed. You’ve become a young woman that I am very proud to call daughter.

My pride and love for you will always be there. You’ve already done things that have left me disappointed in you and there will likely be more as time goes on. We’re all human beings, though. We’ve all made mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share. For me to hold yours against you would make me hypocritical at best, and not fit to call myself a mother at worst. My love for you is unconditional. There’s nothing on this earth that you could do that would make me stop loving you.

Yes, you will make bad decisions, and you will fall. I won’t always be there to catch you, either. You’ll be 17 in 3 short months, and then, before you know it, you’ll be out in this vast world seeking your own adventures and riding the wind in whatever direction it takes you.

Unfortunately, though, life doesn’t come with bumper pads, like the Winnie the Pooh ones that used to line your crib. I hope that you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when life knocks you down. That’s how we become stronger. That’s how we build character. When you do fall, please try not to stay down for too long. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so make the most of today.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of the greatest words of wisdom that your dear old mom has ever spoken.

Quite frankly, it is what it is.

And in keeping true to your German roots,

Ich leibe dich.

-Momsie

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The Art of the Open Letter

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