Dear Cassidy,     Well, it has finally arrived. March 23, 2017…a day that I honestly have never looked forward to; but, one that I will forever cherish. This is the day that you would begin a new stage in your life. The day that you would become a teenager. So, goodbye childhood and hello modern day I think I am an adult. You were my first born and my only daughter. And, to say the least at 5:53 p.m when you made your presence known to the world all those years ago changed the life that I knew and how I knew forever. It has went by remarkably fast. It was just yesterday you had your first smash cake on Irvine View Apartment yielding to a beautiful spring day in your little red wagon. Now, here we are. Embarking on this journey that is unchartered territory for the both of us. You are learning how to become a teenager and I am learning how to be a mother to one. Because let us face the facts as they stand, how hard it is to in fact parent myself because you are just that. You are the better, more modern version of me. You are truly the simplification yet complex reason that my heart beats outside my chest yet one of only two that know the sound of it from the inside.

I am writing you this letter as part of your gift because whether you realize it or not right now, this will be the one thing in your gift bundle that will be most cherished. If not today, then one day… and yes, I will keep a copy always on hand because truth is responsibility and organization is not on the top priority list of you my child. You are just trying to find your way in this world and find your place and I totally get that. I am your mother but I do the same task every morning as I awake hoping that God will help me define who I was meant to be a little more. So don’t sweat it; it don’t always work out perfectly the first round and may take you some years to figure this one out. 

You have not turned out as I expected but you have turned out exactly as I would have dreamed you would. And, when I see you taking on the world and being the fiercely independent little woman that you are growing into all I can do is smile. Maybe, just maybe all the prayers that I used to recite and the lullaby that I used to sing to you many year ago made it through heavens floor because Cassidy you are undoubtly an answer to every prayer that I have sent up. I could never imagine having a more perfect daughter than you and I believe that is why God gave me only one. Even outside of your being hard headed, stubborn and delightfullly unrefined there could never be room in my heart for another daughter as perfect as you. 

One thing that you have taught me, and you have taught me a lot in your few years on this earth is that in fact motherhood has became the most tough yet beautiful rewarding privelage that a woman could ever desire. And, one day (not for the next thirty years, but one day) you will hopefully understand this as you sit down and begin to pen your thirteen year old a letter as well. I have made a lot of mistakes and have been no where near the perfect mother that you deserved, and you will soon learn you will make your own as well. Some small and simple whilst other not so much; you will however begin to understand is that it isn’t about the mistake that you make but about how you handle it. And, that my child, can make a lot of problems and situations so much different on the scale of one to uncomparable. You won’t always like me but that is a mothers job. But, I will always be there when you need me, whenever you need me. You come from a tough blooded legacy that most could only wish for. You was the only one to complete the first four generation of living VanWinkle women. You need to embrace you heritage and learn that it will always be there. Always trust your gut and know that your core being will never let you down.

Your no longer a child, I understand that. But, you are far from an adult. You will learn so much in the next five years of your life. So, dont run from being a child these are the years that you will never get back. Cherish and behold these moments. People will be mean and ugly; you won’t understand why, but somehow be you and always find the positive in everything… accept change. Persevere. You will always need us and we will always be there like I said and this is not defined by how many times you huff and puff and slam the door.

Be Bold. Be Humble. Love and be loved. And, never forget about Brian and to include him in on things no matter how much it seem like you two are born on different planets. He is your little brother and he was sent after you in this life so that you would not only have protection from the mean world but that you would also always have a best friend that you can count on. Aside from your number one fan that you call Mom. Navigate the world and always find your True North. Plant seeds and always bloom were you are planted. You can always trust that your bloom will bend but never allow is to break. Be Strong and of Good Courage. And, baby girl, always remember your are the answer to someone’s dreams. 

Now, to leave you with some nuggets. No, not the twenty piece from McDonald’s but in fact nuggets of knowledge. Have faith. Treasure, cherish, feed and use it. Daily!! Always know that all it takes is the faith of a mustard seed to move a mountain. But, never turn the mountains into molehills. Time is delicate and they just aren’t worth it. Have wisdom. Always remain searching for understanding and never let the questions be answered with an “I Don’t Know”. There is always an answer you just have to look in the right places. Show compassion. You have a heart of gold sister. Find what you love and use it. Don’t ever stop shining your light in the darkest of days. Because, darkness will always take running from the light. You will one day learn this as well; but for now, just trust me. Grace, and this is a big one. You will be tried and tested more times that you can lace your shoes or decided Harley Quinn or monster high. So always be graceful and share what you have been freely given. Exercise your strength. You are a warrior!! A warrior princess at that. You never give up no matter what. Call it stubbornness or whatever. I choose to say the red headed daughter of Crystall gene. Good or bad, you don’t give up. You have to take them both together and your trials and bad times will define who you are in the good. Unspeakable joy. This is natural for you. From the moment you was born, you was sprouting joy into the life’s of those around you. You are a beautiful spirit that has a kind heart and endless potential fo greatness. Do something everyday that makes you happy and never forget to thank God for your blessings. And, always say your prayers cause I promise He is listening. Always be kind and laugh often and be selective who your trust with your heart because not everyone will always have pure intentions with you.

You will one day see that the things that you think are dire today will not hold a penny of importance in ten or fifteen years. You will soon be able to drive and earn taxable dollars from a job. You may decide today that you want to be the star student as Paul Mitchell Academy but then in the next decade want to be a teacher, nurse or scholar. But, always do it with the best you and you will never fail. I love you my daughter and I will never forget all that you have done for me. Because even though this your natural birthday it is mine as well. Because the day that You where born is the day that I was born too. I love you baby girl. Happy birthday and don’t forget to smile even if you have to kick and scream all the way back home. Thanks for always being there and always calling me mom. Love you my princess, my rockstar, my everything.

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