Babycakes - today you are thirteen years old. Thirteen years ago today, the world became a better place. Our family became luckier.
There are a few reasons I'm writing this birthday letter to you:
1. I want you to know how much I love you. You made me an Aunt and I am grateful.
2. I want to you to always remember your 13th birthday. It's one of many-to-come milestones that I want you to file away in your memory and pull them out later and smile. Some days you'll need them.
3. I want to share some wisdom with your 13 year old self that I wish I had known at 13. Here I go -
You are enough. Period. Good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. Cool enough. Loved enough. You are enough. Don't let your inner voice tell yourself anything different. You are more than enough for all of the people that matter, by the way. You are our light.
(2 years old)
Friends are in our lives for seasons. You will have some friends for a season of your life. And during that season, they will be so important and vital to you. They will be your everything. And during that season of your life, that friendship is true and rich and everything. But seasons end and so do most friendships. It's ok. It doesn't mean that friendship wasn't everything you felt it to be. It just means that season is done and something new is about to start for you. New is good.
Boys and love. Just let yourself be heart sick boy crazy. It's ok. Real life will creep up on you as you get older and the butterflies and fixing your hair 18 times to look perfect will fade. Enjoy it now. Every second.
(4 years old)
The internet is forever. Don't put things up there that you don't want your 36 year old self to look at someday. Or your Papa. Or your Mom and Dad. Some things are better left un-photographed. (This wasn't an issue when I was 13 but I have to put this out there.)
(5 years old)
Don't smoke cigarettes. (Again something that I didn't do but as you know, a struggle in our family.) Just don't do it. You will be tempted. It looks cool. Your friends will do it. It will relieve stress. Blah blah. Just don't, babycakes. Maybe try becoming addicted to coffee instead, eh?
(6 years old. I think, not sure, could be 5?)
Be as truthful as you possibly can stomach. It hurts to tell the truth. To yourself, to your parents, to your friends. It's hard. It's easier to please please please. To be the nice one. To always say what everyone else wants to hear. Take a deep breath and speak your truth. It gets easier every time.
(8 years old)
Have fun. I didn't have enough fun when I was your age. I was very focused on school and accomplishing "things". Do fun stuff.
(9 years old)
If there's someone in school that you know is picked on, isolated, bullied, alone . . . smile at them. Say hi to them. Sit by them at lunch. It will lower your cool factor. I get it. But you will change someone else's life in a way that is indescribable.
(10 years old)
Do not be afraid to ask for help, to ask questions or to say "I don't know". Really, it's ok. You don't have to know everything and you don't have to do it all by yourself. Asking does not equal weakness. Actually, you might want to tattoo this one on the palm of your hand. It's a big one.
(11 years old)
Be patient with your Mom. Hug her every single day. She loves you like no one will ever love you and you will never love another human like you love her. You just don't know it yet. So start now with the ridiculous overtures of affection and cards and "I love yous". You will not regret it.
(12 years old)
Remember that I am your #1 fan. I am your Aunt, your Nana, your big Sister all in wrapped into one. I will never stop supporting every decision you make and every branch of your growth. I expect greatness out of you, Kayle. Not because I think you will work hard to "do" great things but because you have a great heart and walk through this world in the most generous, wonderful way. I love you, babycakes. Enjoy your special day. And don't forget to text me!