Dear Child,

21 years ago today my life was forever changed when I became a mother of a baby daughter. As a child myself, I had no idea the depths of the commitment I was making to raise a daughter by myself. Nor did I know it was possible to love someone so deeply. Over the years, I’ve tried to teach you important life lessons and be the best mom I could even when you resisted and when I didn’t know what to do with you. I wanted to raise you to be a strong independent woman who would go out into the world and give something without as much struggle as I had. My now adult-ish child, as you prepare to take on the same commitment I did 21 years ago, I thought I would share a list of 21 things you taught me. Happy Happy Birthday my girl!

1. Childbirth is easy compared to the parenting part.
2. You taught me the importance of admitting when my mistakes (But let’s be honest I was mostly perfect…)
3. Forgiveness. A parents forgiveness is a huge part of the child’s learning process.
4. Pick my battles because it’s too exhausting to fight them all and so many of them really don’t matter in the long run.
5. Chances are your child is listening when you think they aren’t.
6. As a parent doing your best will still often feel like it’s not enough.
7. Kids don’t have to eat “kid food.” You loved sushi and vegetables when you were three. Just saying!
8. If you give a mouse a cookie he will ask for a glass of milk and then steal your clothes.
9. Your kids will embarrass you.
10. Love doesn’t stop even when it’s not deserved. Kids need a lot more than love. The love is the easy part.
11. Patience is a must.
12. Teenage crushes, high school finals, a pimple invisible to everyone, lost ipod, chores not done, the confusion of what am I feeling and why did I do that, a room with no visible floor, wishing I had a drivers license, wanting to be independent when I still need my parents…It’s hard to be a kid and it’s hard to be a parent.
13. Tradition is important.
14. Moms need breaks and that’s OK.
15. Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years. ~Author Unknown
16. Each stage of life is a very small part of your life. Don’t have tunnel vision.
17. Write stuff down. It’s impossible to remember every milestone.
18. A mom’s job is to be a parent. Friendship comes way later.
19. Failure and success must both be celebrated
20. Kids are expensive. You owe me $764,435,311 and some change.
21. Don’t give up on your kids. They will hurt you and make choices you know will not be good for them, but you don’t give up on them.