This past Sunday was my daughter’s sixteenth birthday. This milestone is one that every teenager looks forward to for many reasons, but first and foremost is driving. It scares me to think of her behind the wheel without her Mom or me there, but on the days when we are driving all over creation and waiting on her while she does her teenage thing, I feel like I will relish the time when she can do her own transportation.
For a sixteen year old, driving means freedom. Not having to depend on asking for a ride, looking to parents to give up whatever they are engaged in to deliver you somewhere and pick you up later. It’s like receiving your wings and being able to finally fly solo. For the parent, you cross your fingers and say a prayer and launch your fledgling trusting that you have taught them well and that they will use good judgment and common sense and that others will not harm them, while knowing full well how dangerous the highways are. It scares me but I know from my own memories of getting my license, that it is an experience that marks a major feeling of coming of age, a trusting, a responsibility, an opening of the cage door and release to the world. Travel with care and awareness my daughter, and come home safely each day.
My daughter is a smart, responsible, amazing young person. A dancer, a gymnast, a poet, an artist, a lover of all living things, a vegetarian, a musician, an excellent student, and the most loyal of friends. She is also a typical teen with a messy room, a love of cool clothes, and a willingness to show great affection to her friends while being very reserved about showing it to her parents. More often than not we are an annoyance (because we usually come with requests and rules), but occasionally are also a welcome friend and advisor. Those are the rare moments that I live for. I wish daily that she would be more willing to say, “I love you” or “thank you”, but know in my heart that she knows she is a blessed and lucky young woman.
She is outwardly happy, sitting at her computer singing to herself, she has a great laugh, though I know from her poetry that she has been hurt, and lonely, and sad, and has felt loss of loved ones and friends. She is sensitive, caring, thoughtful, empathetic, and wise. She is artistic, curious, dedicated, and generous. She is stubborn, and strong, and can persuade me to do most anything. And she is the light of my life.
So happy birthday, my girl. Life holds great promise for you and your future. Whether you pursue a career in dance or become a zookeeper, or find along your path a new desire, you will undoubtedly succeed and shine. Your talent, your dedication, and your love of life will propel you to the achievement of your goals. I could not be more proud of you.