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To My Daughter on Her 21st (Month) Birthday

Dear Autumn,


I cried on my way to work today. I used to be home with you to celebrate your monthly milestones, but this morning, I won’t be there. You see, part of being a good mom involves earning money so I can provide for you. I know it’s good for both of us that I’m not around every second, but that still doesn’t make it any easier. I’m missing those mornings when I’d greet you singing happy birthday, and then rush downstairs, prop you up on your boppy pillow, and make crazy faces in hopes of capturing a smile. Being a stay-at-home mom was exhausting, but nothing compared to the fatigue I feel when I leave each day without having seen you. I spend more time with my students than I do with my child, and it pains me because while they deserve a good teacher, you deserve the best mom. So I’m doing what I can to leave work at work and save energy for you, the little nugget who stands at the door waiting each afternoon, hands pressed against the glass, pointing and waving, as my car pulls into the driveway. We’ve both had full days – you at daycare and me at school – but it’s the moment my real life begins again. Because while my job is a way to make money, time with you is a way to make a life.


Today is the 21st – and your 21st month birthday, and while my arms are empty, my mind is full. I have so many thoughts, including a lot I want to share with you. Throughout your life, people will try to give you advice, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not to take it. I’ve learned that some of it makes sense, but a lot of it needs to be tweaked a bit:


What People Say: Live in the moment.

Mom’s Advice: Live in the moment — and the past and the future. Use what you learned in the past to enjoy the present, and always hold out hope for what’s coming.


What People Say: Never give up.

Mom’s Advice: Give something a chance, but if you don’t like it, move on. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy.


What People Say: Be kind to others.

Mom’s Advice: Be kind to others, but always be kind to yourself first. If you’re not content, you won’t be able to help anyone else.


What People Say: Time heals everything.

Mom’s Advice: Time doesn’t heal everything. Some things leave scars, and that’s okay. Scars are memories we can cherish and learn from.


What People Say: Always do your best.

Mom’s Advice: Do your best in things that matter. It’s okay to sometimes just get things done. You have a finite amount of energy. Pour it into who and what you love most.


What People Say: Don’t settle.

Mom’s Advice: Don’t settle, but also, don’t waste your time looking at every single available option -– whether it be a spouse, career, or house. Find what suits you well enough, and just go for it.


What People Say: Dance like no one’s watching.

Mom’s Advice: Dance like everyone's watching, and do it the same as you would when no one’s watching. Some people will enjoy the show, and who cares about the others?


What People Say: Always tell the truth.

Mom’s Advice: It’s okay to lie when it will protect you or someone you care about…except when you’re talking to your mom. With me, always, always tell the truth.


What People Say: Seize the day.

Mom’s Advice: Seize the moment. It’s too much pressure and too hard to make all of every day count. It’s the little moments we remember most anyway.


***


It is the end of the day now and the perfect time to tell you about the magic the Universe sometimes provides. I have moments where I question whether I’m on the right path and making smart choices, and I ask the Universe to give me signs. Today I didn’t ask, but I still received some memos. I took a piece of chocolate from the teacher’s lounge, and inside there was a fortune. It read, “Every moment matters, including this one!” I wasn’t impressed, until I read the name of the person who had sent it. Autumn. It felt like we were connected in an extra special way.


Then, as I was arriving home, I happened to glance down at my watch. The moment I picked you up for the first time today, it was 4:21 – the exact time you were born exactly 21 months prior. Of course, never forget you were born on 4/21 at 4:21. My baby girl and her ideal timing.


We took your 21-month pictures, and they are some of the best. I don’t have to dance around like a maniac to get you to look happy. You grin and giggle when I hold up the camera. You are wiser than ever these days. I know I’m supposed to be the mom, but I hope you don’t mind if I let you take the lead at times. I have been slightly weathered by this world, hardened by the ignorant and evil, but you haven’t. Your pure brightness provides the strength and freshness I sorely need. Lucky me to be your contemporary — and what a privilege to join you on every step of your journey.


Happy birthday, baby girl – and here’s to many more.


Love you infinity forever,

Mom





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