As our kids get older, I am mindful about what I share about them in this space. Their lives, of course, are their own and I respect the space they need to grow and the ability they need to choose when and what to share in a public way.
That being said, I asked our kids if they had any problems with me continuing this tradition. The tradition of writing on their birthday. I was given a thumbs up from all three of my fall-birthday kiddos, and today I begin with Chanelle.
You’re thirteen today. THIRTEEN! I’ll spare you the “Where did the time go?” and the “I can’t believe you’re thirteen!“.
But really, where did the time go? I can’t believe you’re thirteen! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
Yesterday, we sat in the car side by side talking about your birthday. Me, obsessing about the fact that you are almost a TEEN and you, downplaying it all as ‘just another day’. You shook your head at me saying, I think you’re more excited about my birthday than I am.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe I am more excited about it. Or maybe I’m just more open about it–because that’s how we roll isn’t it? All my thoughts and feelings wide open for all to see. And you? Well, your thoughts and feelings are mostly on the inside. Hidden, quiet, saved only for a time when, and if, you are ready to share them.
The older you become, it’s funny how often we hear something along the lines of “Oh, my goodness, Chanelle looks just like you!” Or, “Chanelle is a mini-Summer.” I smile, partly because I like the compliment, but also because what so many don’t know is how incredibly different we are.
You are ‘give me steak with a side of bacon and another side of bacon’ and I am the vegetarian who laughs and shakes her head at you.
You bury yourself in Harry Potter and all things fantasy. I am memoirs and spiritual direction.
You are Marvel movies and I am dog movies with a few unicorns thrown in.
You are soccer. I am running.
You are an internal processor. I am let’s talk about all the feelings.
You dive in and learn about all the details. I am ‘let’s feel our way through it’.
I am ‘words, words, words’. You are ‘observe, observe, observe’.
I could go on and on with these examples, but I know I don’t have to. You and I are both very aware of our differences.
The older you become the more grateful I am that there isn’t truly a ‘mini-Summer’ out there.
Goodness, Chanelle, how I love seeing you become exactly who you are.
I love how you have grown into your skin and into yourself. At 13 years old, you have paved your own path and followed your own leadings. I’ve watched it in your friendships, on the soccer field, in the way you care for all your plants and in your unique relationship with both Charlie and Meadow. You are beautifully, uniquely, Chanelle.
As your thirteenth birthday approaches, I think not only of who you are, but who you are becoming. I think about the world you are walking into and I am very aware that I cannot protect you from everything.
On your 13th birthday, especially in a year like 2020, I am acutely aware of all the messages the world is sending you. All the messages the world will continue to send you. A world that will tell you to get loud, use your voice, be a leader, take a stand, make and impact, go-go-go, do-do-do.
As I think about you walking into the world, eyes wide open and quiet soul intact, today I want you to remember this:
You don’t have to be loud to make an impact, Chanelle. You don’t have to have a crowd following you to be a leader. You don’t have to be fierce in the way the world would have you believe.
You are already fierce. You are already a leader. You are already making an impact in the quiet, confident, way you ease yourself into the world. Chanelle, the thing I most want for you to hear today–or a year from now, or even five or ten years is this. . .
You be you, Chanelle. You are and always have been, beautifully, uniquely, you.
Chanelle, we are so proud of you. Proud of who you are. Proud of who you are becoming. We are so proud of the way you carry yourself into the world. In fact, Chanelle, there has never been a day when we have not been proud of you.
We celebrate you today, Chanelle. Welcome to your teen years.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl.