Congratulations on your 18th birthday! This moment is a cause for celebration, but I am filled with mixed emotions. I know you were always on loan to me, as those parenting books said, but now that the time is here, it’s very hard for me to give you back.
You have grown into a stunning young woman with a fiery spirit. You don’t like to be labeled or defined, but I think I understand what you are about. You are passionate, driven, creative, and independent. You are as brilliant as your namesake, and yet your heart is fragile. I want to protect you against pain, but know that I can’t. You will go out into the world and laugh with new friends, and cry on someone else’s shoulder. I won’t be there, but I will always be there. You are a part of me, as I am you.
I recognize what your turning 18 means, it doesn’t get any easier though. In fact, it’s excruciating because I anticipate just what is to come – a gaping hole in my heart where you once were: a little girl who loved to dance to Avril Lavigne songs, devour stories about Barbie and make pancakes almost every weekend.
I am trying to relish the last, first things this year – the last first day of school, the last first badminton game, the last back to school night. These annual events will disappear and soon be replaced with graduation, the first day of college, internships, jobs and so many more wonderful new experiences. I want to stop time. I want to bottle up these events and never let them go.
Sometimes when I talk to you about these last first things or ask you to do something together, you withdraw. You distance yourself from me and tell me you need space to grow up. And you absolutely should be doing that. But having raised you, and knowing the emptiness to come, my instinct is to hold you close. I suspect this might be a difficult time for you too because I remember the fear and thrill of turning 18 and leaving home for college soon.
I can’t wait to watch you grow into adulthood. I hope you will be happy and fulfilled and be caring of others. As our relationship evolves, I wish to create moments together that are unique, authentic, and personal, as I expect you would want them to be. I may still say and do things that are embarrassing, but I cherish you, and will always love you to the moon and back.
Happy 18th birthday my beautiful DA.