Writing to you again is kind of like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time but you pick up right where you left off and all seems right in the world. Like, you’re exactly where you should be. I enjoy these times when I can talk to you because it’s one-sided and you can’t roll your eyes at me and exhale and shout, I KNOW!
I made the conscious decision a couple years back to cease my monthly letters to you because as you get older, your life, your secrets, wishes, desires, become more sacred and private and I want to respect that for you and ultimately, I determined that your life is not my story to tell.
Having said that, I will keep this post brief but I wanted to acknowledge another of your journeys around the sun.
We’re officially entering uncharted waters–we’re entering the tween years. We haven’t fully submerged into this new phase but I’ve seen brief glimpses and if I’m being honest, it’s as scary and terrifying as a parent would believe.
Your emotions are rampant and finicky and delicate and complex and not at all predictable. In the process, you’re trying to figure out who you are and what that even means. Believe me, you will struggle with this your entire life and even when you think you have a stronghold on who you are, life throws a curveball and flips the script and makes you rethink what you knew. My advice to you will always be to remain open-minded and don’t limit yourself to labels–whether given to you by others or by yourself. Labels are a crutch and prevent us from pushing boundaries even if those boundaries are scary or intimidating. As you meander the path of self discovery, keep this advice close to your heart because at the end of the day, you truly are capable of anything. You just have to be brave enough to try.
As a parent, my job is to protect you–whether that be from physical harm, emotional distress, you name it and I want to protect you from it. It’s an innate biological reaction to being a parent and it’s a driving full-speed-ahead force that can’t be held back but in these times ahead for you, with these growing pains you will experience, I won’t be able to charge in and fix it. I can provide support, advice, love, compassion, guidance but ultimately, the battle will be yours and that hurts my parenting heart.
Parents don’t know everything despite what you might believe. Despite being an eleven year old girl once myself, my journey is very different than yours. My struggles are not necessarily your struggles and I need to be conscious of that when I boast that I know exactly how you’re feeling.
Lately, I do a lot of Googling–specifically about parenting struggles. Sometimes about which hangover cure works the fastest but mostly about parenting struggles. As you enter this new phase, we as parents are also grappling with how to support you in these coming years. There really is no manual with you kids and parenting is really throwing a dart in the dark sometimes and hoping we come close.
I’ve made mistakes, especially as a parent and nothing is more humbling and frustrating than realizing that and having to make sweeping changes to course correct those mistakes without coming across as super strict. I don’t want to be an enforcer or someone with a book of rules that you must follow to live in our home but I also know how kids quickly take advantage of situations e.g. you, and I can quickly see that those lack of boundaries and seemingly small bad habits turn into daily struggles that are exhausting. I just want to live with zero conflict and with a surplus of wine that never runs dry. Is that too much to ask for?
For your birthday, my wishes for you are to laugh often, love whole-heartedly, do everything with pride (even your math homework), don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be ashamed to cry, embrace your quirks, wear clean socks, floss your teeth, always dance like no one is watching, take a walk when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop watching terrible TikTok videos of cars running over random objects, just believe–in other people, dreams, ideas and especially yourself, and know that no matter what, Dad and I will always be here for you with open arms and an open heart, ready to suffocate you with our love.
Happy Birthday, Olivia.