Tuesday, June 4, 2013

For Hannah on her 15th Birthday

The nature of being 15 is not a comfortable one.  It is a time when you are trying to figure out who you are and who you want to become.  It is a time of testing the boundaries of your own abilities and learning to make your own decisions.  Often, this testing bumps up against the boundaries of the adults in your life.  This is a very normal and universal experience.  Adding some pretty big changes to an already challenging age made for quite a big year for you.

I have to admit, I was surprised when you seemed to be the one that experienced the most difficulty in adjusting to all of our changes this year.  But the more I thought about it, the more I understood.  You are like me in so many ways.  When I was your age, I felt things intensely. I worried about everything.  I loathed the idea of making a mistake or worse, someone knowing I made a mistake.  You want people to see you as one way, but often you don't feel like you are that way.

I used writing to vent and quell the intensity of my feelings, and I think that is what poetry and writing does for you, too.  I think it is a great outlet and great way to navigate all of the twists and turns of a life in transition.  I hope you are careful with that though.  There is a danger in dwelling on all of the ups and downs and difficult feelings rather than relaxing and enjoying the happiness that surrounds you.  I am as big a fan (or bigger) of writing about the things that are good and make you feel grateful as I am of writing about things you need to release.

If I could tell my 15 year-old self anything, it would be, "Lighten up."  Everything doesn't have to be intense.  Everything doesn't have to be analyzed.  You don't have to decide just exactly how you feel about everything.  You can just be.  You can just be who you are.  And that's ok.

My hope for you this year is that you will find joy.  I want you to feel safe and secure and loved and peaceful wherever you are.  I hope that you will learn that love is exponential, not limited.  There is no such thing as competition for love because it grows as you allow it to grow.  I hope you will learn that even when others are different from you (intellect, religion, politics, personality, perspective, background, speech) they still have value and can teach you something.  Rarely is there anyone in your life who is all good or all bad.  We are all flawed and we all have gifts.  A person who can learn to accept others' flaws while celebrating others' gifts is one who will love and be loved by everyone.  I hope that you will be confident in the things that you know and will become a strong young woman who will speak for what she believes and stand up for what she knows to be right, particularly when others can't speak for themselves.

I hope that you learn to trust that we value your happiness, and sometimes that means saying no.  When the boys were little and confused, I used to ask them if they trusted that I would always make decisions in their best interest even if they didn't understand.  They always said, "yes."  It's easier when you are little.  But I hope that you will learn that I, along with your dad, will always make every decision in your best interest...and trust that even if you don't understand.  My goal for all five of you kids is for you to be healthy, happy and make good choices as you begin to carve the path for your future.  It is hard for us as parents to watch you gain independence and allow you the choices that you are mature enough to make.  You and Jake are our first, and we may make mistakes, but everything we do is done with love.  

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