May I be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday?
I was not the first to greet you on that brilliant, magnificent day 18 years ago when you entered the world and changed my life forever. There were medical personnel (who I am eternally grateful for) who rushed you out of my tummy and off to be checked and re-checked before I even had a chance to hold you. Your Dad followed you around while they tested you and bathed you and made sure you were okay. I waited in the recovery room while the nurses brought me updates – your height and weight, your APGAR score, etc. Finally, they brought me to my own hospital room and told me you would be in shortly.
Can I just tell you that the second they put you in my arms was the most magical moment I have ever experienced? There isn’t even a close second. There are no words to describe the instant bond, the overwhelming love, and the ferocious desire to protect and nurture. You looked right into my eyes and I said audibly what my heart had been singing since the second you were born: “We’ve been waiting for you.”
Tomorrow you turn 18. You are poised at the edge of young adulthood. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings: I am so very proud of you. I am so grateful for these wonderful, amazing years. I have regrets about the many areas where I could have been a better Mom. But all of those emotions pale in comparison to the overwhelming AWE I feel at having had a front-row seat to watch you become the person you are today. To see how all the joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, accomplishments, disappointments, and victories have shaped you into this beautiful mixture of exactly who God created you to be.
My precious daughter, not a moment of your life has been wasted. God has used every second. You have trusted Him and leaned in to Him. He has never let go of you, and you have never let go of Him. Never lose sight of what an amazing blessing that is. Life will not always be easy (you are already well aware of this truth) but it is a little less painful when you remember that He never lets go of you.
So may I just say that it has been an absolute privilege and the joy of my life to be your Mom? You have brought joy and hope and purpose to my life. (Not to mention music, laughter, and silliness.) And with every breath, with every heartbeat, I say a prayer of gratitude that God gave me you.
18 years ago, I whispered to you: “We’ve been waiting for you.” And now, on the eve of your eighteenth birthday, I want to tell you this: “The world is waiting for you.” The world needs your strength, your passion, your love, your compassion. God has uniquely gifted you “for such a time as this.” And so with open arms and a grateful heart, I release you into this crazy, mixed-up, beautiful world of ours, knowing that I have done my best and that God is gracious enough to fill in the gaps and cover my shortcomings with His love.
I am your biggest cheerleader, your number-one fan, your soft place to land, and the place you can always come home to. Thank you for teaching me to trust wholeheartedly, to love with abandon, and to keep a song in my heart.
Being your Mom has changed me in all of the best possible ways. And you are one of the bravest people I know. Your birthday will always be one of my greatest reasons to rejoice.
You are doing with your life what only you could do. And THAT is brave.” -- Annie Downs