Today is your day! You are 18.
You stand with one foot moving steadfastly towards the rest of your life, while the other pushes off from all of the yesterdays you’ve ever known.
As your mother, I’m torn with emotions. I’m excited for you, that the world is yours and you have so much to offer it. I feel proud that you can and will do so much. I want you to know a fullness and richness of life that makes you weak in the knees and leaves you breathless.
But I also know that such experience and depth of life comes with a price. There will be heartbreaks and aches, failures and pain. I want you to know that there is no going around those things. You must stand tall, hold your head as high as you can, and push right through. I’ve no doubt you will always do your best.
For 18 years, I’ve managed to protect you as best I could; deflecting hurtful words, avoiding rocky paths, holding your hand as often as you’d allow and always keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
And while I will forevermore be your mother and your protector, I know the time has come for me to let go. It’s your time to shine and fly and ultimately soar.
But letting go doesn’t mean leaving. Please know I am always here for you no matter what. I still feel I have so much to teach you, so many lessons and secrets to share.
You were my first baby, the one I waited years and years, a lifetime even, to finally get. And in the wee hours of a warm, spring morning in early April, I was given my first best gift ever.
Oh, how you’ve been so adored. Our days when you were young were full of sunshine, stars to wish upon, and yes, some tears and stress. But mostly we soaked you in as you soaked in life. You were always so very smart and witty and had the best outlook on things. Not surprisingly, you still do. You are an infuriating blend of laid back seriousness that drives me insane but at the same time demands a respect beyond your meager years.
I’d love to take credit for who you are and how you’ve turned out. Your dad is a pretty amazing guy too who has played a huge role in your life. But ultimately, it’s you. And you are awesome.
That foot you’ve got thrust forward? Set it confidently and comfortably right in the very next spot. Whatever, for you, that may be. Your path now truly becomes yours (I fear it always has been) and I am proud of you as you set off. This milestone finds this mom of yours is a bit melancholy, anxious, happy, confident, but mostly proud.
Ellis Browning Kauffman, may all of your birthday wishes and dreams come true, my sweet son. They’re yours for the taking.
I love you,