19 thoughts for my daughter on her 19th birthday

19 thoughts for my daughter on her 19th birthday
You and your Papa dancing.


  1. When I look at you and see glimpses of your Papa and flashes of myself, I feel proud. When I look at you and see the singular person you have become all on your own, I feel joy.
  2. The academic year 2012-2013 was our Buffy, Season 6. 
  3. I didn’t like being pregnant for a hundred and one reasons. But the day I felt your elbow in my side and I poked you and then you poked me back, being pregnant became a miracle. 
  4. There are basically two kinds of Alaskans, the ones who spend every waking moment outdoors skiing and hiking and fishing and the ones who read by the fire in the winter and stay indoors from the mosquitoes in the summer. You are the latter. 
  5. Watching you dance as a little girl and now as a young woman transports me to a different place, above this earth and its troubles.
  6. My favorite question you ever asked me, “Mama, can I walk around and think of things in my head?” 
  7. My second favorite, “Mama, what do you call the inside of a dog?”
  8. Your capacity for forgiveness and mercy when people have done wrong by you is inspiring. 
  9. Despite the fact that you are an introvert and that you don’t much like to have attention on you, you chose to take your first steps at a party with absolutely every eye on you. And you didn’t take a few steps, you wobbled across an entire room to get to your Papa. 
  10. You know folks, people you call “friends of my Mama,” who are, in reality, your friends, too. You have forged your own relationships with them. 
  11. Behind your calm exterior is a passionate and fierce human being. I love watching people’s faces when they realize that.
  12. When I do or say something that makes you laugh, I feel wholly validated as a human being.
  13. I didn’t understand unconditional love until you were born. You taught me how to give it and how to receive it. 
  14. When you had your back surgery and were in pain, I said, “I wish I had the pain and not you.” You said, “Me, too.” You were joking; I wasn’t. 
  15. I am a better person because of you. 
  16. You have always traveled your own path, from the time you were little. You’re not obnoxious about it, and you’re not “different” just to be different. You are still doing that, and I hope you always do. Trust yourself.
  17. After you were born I got to see the world brand new for a second time through your eyes. 
  18. Watching you vote for the first time was one of the proudest moments of my parenting. You have been with me for every election, but now you’re filling in the ballot on your own. 
  19. You’re not supposed to do this when you’re expecting a baby, and I don’t recommend it as a course of action, but I hoped for a daughter so very much. When I saw you on the ultrasound and discovered you were you, it pierced my heart.

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