My Little Girl Is Not So Little Anymore

To My Girl On Her 11th Birthday-You’ll Always Be My Baby

Eleven years ago at 8:30 in the morning you came rushing into our lives to change them forever. It is hard to believe that 11 years ago I held you in my arms for the first time and looked deeply into your big, beautiful brown eyes. Now, as you officially become a “tween” on this birthday, in between childhood and teenage years, I look into those same eyes with a love that has only grown since the day I first saw you. I could write today about how amazing you’ve turned out to be. I could tell you I sit in admiration nearly every day at your poise, confidence and ability to make other people feel good when they’re in your presence. I could tell you how proud I am that you’re never afraid to try new things. I could say that if I was eleven, I would wish to be your friend.

For eleven fast, yet slow years, I’ve tried my best to teach you, through my words and my example.  Some days have been way easier than others. But what I didn’t realize until now, is that after all these years- as I’ve been trying so hard to teach you– I’ve never really stopped to reflect on all the things you’ve actually taught me.  I am so grateful for these ELEVEN things you’ve taught me through your ELEVEN years of life!

1. Through your eyes, I am more than enough.

Motherhood is so hard and there are many days that I ask myself the question–“Am I enough?” And when I’m pondering the answer to that question, you are always there to remind me, that I am.  In your eyes, I am just your mother.  It’s amazing how that alone suffices- and through your eyes, I am reminded that I am more than enough.  When I think of how you feel about me being your mom- I don’t dare to question my worth.

2. Humility

Another thing I’ve learned from her is when you think you have some things figured out, there’s nothing like a little poop on your hands to humble you. Or throw-up. Or permanent marker all over your floors. Kids can raise you up to the highest of highs, but they can certainly bring you down off that pedestal, too. I especially love when I think I look really decent, then I realize that I’ve been wearing silly stickers all around town. She smiles at me in those instances as if to say, “You’re not that cool, mom.” Children: keeping it real since the beginning of time. And keeping you humble, too. She’s taught me to laugh at myself (as if I needed help in that department) and to not take myself too seriously.

3. Believe in Yourself

Have you ever heard yourself telling your child that maybe they shouldn’t or couldn’t do something. I have. I’m not always proud of those moments. The times when I let my fears become the rules for my children. Still with this little girl. It never seems to work. She believes in herself in spite of all my fears. Each time I think she isn’t ready for something – she proves me wrong through shear will power. I love it. She teaches me that if you believe it – it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says or thinks. You can do it!

4. The days will pass anyway.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since being a mom, it’s that the days are long but the years are short.  But regardless, both will pass anyway.  Whether I’m ready for the next day or not, one thing is for certain, and it is that the days will come and go, just as the day before- just as the day after.  And those days turn into years quicker than I could ever even imagine.  My days and years to spend with you are very limited, and I realize now that I must do all I can to truly embrace them.  I get sad thinking that in a few even shorter years, you will leave for college. After eleven years, I’ve finally realized there is no time but now to embrace all those passing days.

5. Gratitude

Just when I think life gets hard, I remember all that I do have and all the things that are going right. That little girl of mine helps me put things in perspective. I live for her smiles and laughter. I embrace the little things and try to see things through her innocent eyes. Even when the days are long, I can always find something to be thankful for, because she has taught me to experience joy on a whole new level. She has taught me to be thankful for everything.

6. The meaning of unconditional love.

When you fight with your brothers or test me to my limits, I am reminded of  what unconditional love really means. If you really think about it, it is love without a condition.  Some conditions are good.  Others, not so much… and that means– just as you love me when I make a mistake or fail at motherhood, I love you too when you make a mistake or experience a failure.

7. I’m A Good Mom

That’s right. I know I had my daughter but I still didn’t truly believe I was a good mom. I had my Mom when she was born and she helped me get through a lot. So somehow I didn’t give myself full credit for mothering her in the beginning. Having my daughter was all me. I was a mother all on my own and I did it! Every time she would come to me for comfort, protection, help – mothering. She taught me that I am a good mom. I could do this and she is living proof that I’m not screwing this mom thing up completely.

8. Put In The Effort

Things don’t always come easy. School has been an up hill battle at times because she has such a creative personality but when it comes to details and trying to do things that take her away from her creative side she struggles. She struggles but she never gives up. I’ve watched her take a math problem and make it into something creative that she gets. Her effort to learn no matter what has taught me that effort always pays off in the end.

9. My life has a greater purpose.

Since you were born, my life has a new direction and I’m not sad about it. I think less of myself.  I am willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t give up to be with you in every single accomplishment you had at school, and stand beside you through all of your life’s big and small moments. You have truly taught me that my life has a greater purpose. That main purpose right now is helping you to be successful in life.  

10. Compassion

Giving birth makes your heart grow, I’m sure of it. I’d like to think that I’ve always been a pretty compassionate person, but once I became a mom, my heart turned to mush. I look at people with an open heart and know that every one deserves to be loved and treated with kindness. But what about those bad people, you say? Especially those bad people. Being a mom has made me want to mother the world. Hearing my little love say “Aww” when she sees someone get hurt on the television makes me say it times 1,000.

11. I’ve Got This

Parenthood. It isn’t always obvious when you’re doing it right but when you can look at your child begin to make choices, decisions and changes in their own lives and realize that the lessons you teach are actually having an impact. It’s a big deal. For me, seeing her develop into a pre-teen who has common sense, love for herself and others as well as confidence helps me know I’ve got this!

Becoming a mom has definitely been life’s greatest gift. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling, an answer to many prayers. I’m blessed beyond measure to get to learn from my child. Raising her and teaching her what she’s taught me is what I’m sure I was always meant to do. I can’t second-guess myself. I can’t beat myself up for getting frustrated. I’m human after all. But above everything, because she has taught me all of these things, I’m confident that I will do everything in my power to do my best. She gives meaning to my life. And I owe it to her to make sure she knows that. I owe it to her to give this life my all, because she’s taught me that. 

I love you with all my heart and I hope you have a wonderful 11th birthday.

Love, Mom


Len Parent

“The most important thing to remember is that you can wear all the greatest clothes and all the greatest shoes, but you’ve got to have a good spirit on the inside. That’s what’s really going to make you look like you’re ready to rock the world.” —Alicia Keys

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