I used to write you letters so that you could look back someday and remember what you were like when you were little…. as I sit down now to write to you, I realize that perhaps you should write a letter to me. I wonder if years from now I could accurately describe the Emily June that is fourteen. Could you even describe yourself these days?
Baby, I look at that long body asleep on the couch on a Saturday afternoon and I wonder if I even know her. You breeze through the kitchen with sports bags and lunch boxes and backpacks, a whirlwind of mess and things and homework and hungry and I wish we could just stop and look at one another. I can see the little girl you once were. And sometimes I can see the fully grown Emily June you will someday be…. but that teenage girl that you are this very minute, sometimes I wonder if I know her at all.
Trust. That is what we are building right now. Sometimes I barely see you for days on end and I trust that you will holler if you need me. I am certain you will text me when you need cash or forgotten softball cleats. But I must trust that if you need me…. you will climb back into my bed. You will curl up under my arm and let me hold you once more. I must trust that my smart, savvy teenager will use her big, beautiful mind and “make good choices.”
Trust. I don’t get to hug you very often but when I do I bury my face against the top of your head and I inhale and I trust that you will still smell like you.
Trust. I give you boundaries and tools instead of hard and fast rules and I trust that you will find your own way. It may not always look like my way or the path that I’d have chosen but I must trust that you are finding your way, the only way you know how.
Trust. I must trust that in these short years that we have left together, in one house, we will solidify this family unit. We will be the safe place to which you return. Forever.
You will be fine. You are smart and kind and confident. You will not choose to eat Bojangles for every meal some day and you will eventually hang up a wet towel without being reminded. You are doing a pretty damn fine job of growing up.
Baby, I trust you. Know that. Remember it. My trust is not something I give freely. I love you with my whole heart and I trust that these next few years might be a little messy. And you know what? When I tell you “No” or dig around behind your back for more information, it is not that I do not trust you. I trust that you are turning out to be a perfectly imperfect teenager. You’re going to screw up, you’re going to get back up and try again. My wish for you is that you fail spectacularly from time to time. Why? It will mean that you set yourself some big, fat, audacious (look it up) goals and you tried.
Now is the time for you to trust me. I have your back. Look. And then leap, Baby Girl. We just get this one life. Get after it, Em. Your dad and I are here for you when you fall. Trust that.
As a side note, may I say that I am simply SHOCKED to hear that you did not wear this adorable birthday hat to school!! Last time your sister and I pick out a darling birthday hat clip on hair piece for you at Party City, harrruumph!!
I love you. Happy Birthday, baby.
Momma (I still do not know why you insist on calling me this or spelling it this way, but after fourteen years, I give up.)
And here are your birthday letters from the past….