Last Monday I found a beautiful note from S on top of my jewelry box.  She had put there Sunday night while I was off writing my last paper for my last doctoral class before dissertation.  It was a sweet note, telling me how much she loves me even though we fight sometimes. It made me smile to read that she thought I had “achieved matriarchal perfection”.

I am so proud of the young woman she is becoming – bright, articulate, funny, athletic. She exudes more confidence at 13 than I did at 23!

I love that she reads for the pure joy of reading.

I love that she doesn’t give up when things get hard (well, except for those occasional moments when we have math meltdowns, but even then she comes back to it the next day).

I love that she can laugh at herself (if you know her ask her about the moon or taking minutes).

I love that when we go shopping she prefers Nike and Under Armour over short skirts and platform shoes.

So, as I read her letter again this morning, I thought I should write back to let her know how amazing she is and to share a little mom wisdom.

Dear S,

Thank you for the beautiful letter. Did you know I stuck it in my purse so I always have it with me? You’re right, being mom isn’t always fun. Not because you’re tough to raise but because there are so many things I want to tell you and time moves fast. So, here are a few things I hope you’ve picked up on over the years, but just in case you weren’t listening… 🙂

Believe in yourself. You are an amazingly talented young woman. You have already accomplished so much because you are not afraid of hard work. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.

Love something passionately. We’ve always encouraged you to try new things – dance, soccer, softball, basketball, piano, flute, photography. I love that as you get older you are sorting through all the options and focusing on the ones you love. Those long car rides to basketball tournaments? I wouldn’t trade that time for anything because I love to watch you play, and I love to listen to your passion for the game.  Maybe this won’t always be what you love, but for now, enjoy it.  I’ll be there for you, whatever passion you follow.

Say what you think. From little on you have been stubborn and opinionated – not at all like your mother. 🙂 Don’t lose that. It’s okay to not agree with your friends, not to want to do what they do. Speak up, speak out,  and stand by what you believe.

Stop and listen. Listen to the words of a song, the sounds of nature, the ideas and opinions of others. Listen to the still, small voice in your head.

Be brave. Face your fears head on. Remember the first time you did the high ropes course or rode those rides at Noah’s Ark? You were afraid, but you didn’t let that stop you. Lots of things in life will scare you, but there is nothing you can’t handle (although you might need to ask for help now and then, and it is perfectly okay to need help!).

Be kind. You don’t have to like everyone, but there is never a good reason to be mean. I have been so proud of how you handle yourself when it comes to girl drama. Keep it up.

Set goals. Remember when you wanted an American Girl doll, and we wouldn’t buy it for you? Instead I cut out the picture from the catalog and you hung it up to remind you why you were saving your money. I remember your face when we went to Chicago to buy Jess. You were so proud of what you had accomplished. It feels much better when you earn things than when they are handed to you.

Be a citizen of the world. One of my favorite moments was after our bike tour in Paris last summer. We were heading back to the train station and you said, “I want to go to college where you went to college because I want to spend a semester in Europe.”  You don’t have to go where I went, but go somewhere that has a study abroad program.

Enjoy your own company. Find the value of alone time whether it’s curling up with a good book or going for a long walk or some other thing you can do on your own. Just know that you make your own happiness.

You are loved unconditionally. You’ll make mistakes. You won’t always say or do what you need to, but no matter what I will always love you.

So, be fearless. That doesn’t mean to throw caution to the wind, but rather realize anything worth doing involves risk.

You owe it to yourself to be you.