It's impossible for me to comprehend that I am the mother of a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD daughter. I think that's because my 16th year is still so imprinted in my mind. And if I can remember my 16th year, then it wasn't that long ago. Right? Sure...
If my parents were still alive, they would have greeted you on this day with a sly comment like, "Sweet 16 and never been kissed." And you would have rolled your eyes and I would have giggled with you, because we both know you have arrived at 16 with some experience and knowledge you didn't have a year ago. Mostly, it was knowledge you gained in some pretty painful ways.
You learned what it looks like to compromise your beliefs with someone you thought was trustworthy and made promises he never intended to keep.Every moment you've endured has made you stronger in the long run. Life isn't a sprint for the fastest runner to win, it's an endurance run that sometimes sidelines you, detours you, stretches you, but finds you lean and strong at the finish line.
You learned how to stand by a friend who endured harassment and shame.
You learned how to apologize and repair that friendship, and made vows to yourself about avoiding similar experiences in the future.
You learned what a broken heart feels like and how grief and loss don't happen all at once, but slowly over time.
You learned what it means to stand on your feet again, find your value and worth, and strengthen your faith and relationships.
Katie, you have grown into such a loving, deep-feeling, beautiful soul. You are someone whom Dad and I truly enjoy spending our time with. You make us laugh. You ask the hard questions. And you like to sing in the car with me, too.
This year I realized that the longer I parent, the better I understand how deeply I was loved by my parents. That understanding wasn't something I could grasp when I was being parented; it comes with time. I know you can't grasp it now, but my hope is one day you'll look back on this year and see how wholly and fully loved you were through it.
Even on the hard days when you felt the world rejected you. Even on the dark days when there were more clouds than stars in the sky. Even on the silent days when you didn't want to talk to me, preferring to blame your parents for the unfairness of love and life and friendships.
You've made it so far, baby girl of mine. I'm so proud of you and the person you're growing up to be.
Next up: driving. A car. ALONE. Eeeeeek! (Insert "scary face" emoji here.)
I love you!