My dear Hayden Elizabeth,
Wow! Where has the time gone? You are fourteen years old now, that’s an entire decade plus four years which simply blows my mind, and, though I have no idea how we got here, or where all of those years went, I am still as madly in love with you as I was on the day you were born, more so if that is possible.
You are a beautiful young lady both inside and out. Because you are fourteen, you are currently more concerned with the outside, always worried how your hair looks or if your makeup is just right or that you are wearing something fashionable. That is totally natural at your age, completely age appropriate, but I want you to know that you are so much more than those things, that your beauty is so much deeper.
My sweet girl, you are so kind, you have such a tender heart, and because of this you feel all the feels so forcefully that there are times when you are absolutely beside yourself with emotion at the injustice of it all. I don’t always handle these times perfectly because I don’t know how to navigate your intense feelings any more than you do, I don’t know how to help you through those times except to assure you that they will pass, that they are growing pains, and that we have all gone through them, and survived. You will survive them, too. It might help if you let me hug you through them, but that is your decision, I’m only the mother.
You are brilliant, Hayden. I know you don’t believe this. I know you think your grades at school define you, tell you how smart you are, but that is not true. Those grades are simply a measure of how well you can memorize facts and spit them back out on a piece of paper, and sometimes you struggle with that and it frustrates you, and saddens your father and I because we hate to see you struggle or be sad. Of course, you still have to memorize those facts and spit them back out. Of course, you still have to do your best in school, and strive for the best grades you are capable of obtaining. But, please, understand those are such a small measure of your intellect, and absolutely no measure of who you are as a person. You are, to name a few, incredibly creative, wildly curious about the world around you, relentlessly competitive, unfailingly kind, and wickedly funny; these are the measure, this is your brilliance. You are so smart it frightens me at times; I love your brain.
I love your sense of humor. I love to hear your laughter, to see you smile. I love that you are beginning to understand and appreciate the jokes, the social subtleties, when we watch a television show or movie. I love that you can be silly with your sister or your friends or, sometimes, your parents. I love that you can laugh at me, and, more importantly, at yourself.
I love that you love country music even though it’s not a popular choice with your friends. I love that you collect phone cases. I love that you love Maine as much as your father and I love it, and that those family traditions we hold so dear are just as important to you. I love that you are so athletic, that you are a kick ass lacrosse player, a long distance runner, and that you love field hockey (and you’re a great player) even though you were not sure you wanted to try a new sport after excelling in soccer. I love that you showed up and taught yourself something new. I love that you chose all of the details for your new bedroom. I love that I can count on you to be helpful around the house. I love that you take selfies everywhere you go. I love that you are a terrific big sister to Anna; that you protect her from the world as best you can, and make her laugh every day. I love that you love animals, and the beach, and shoes.
Hayden, I am so amazed and proud of the young woman you are becoming. I can’t believe I get to be your mother, I thank God every day for this gift you are. I get to watch you grow and learn and become the adult you are going to become. I know I have very little to do with this, it is more and more obvious daily that you are your own person separate from me and your dad, but we get to come along for the ride, and it’s a wonderful ride.
I love you,