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I’m writing these words for someone who may never see them.

Our firstborn turned eighteen today. A legal adult. Technically free to leave and go about her business.

She’s got one toe out the door. What she’s doing after graduation in 8 weeks is not quite decided – she may be going away to college or staying here for community college.

It’s a little surreal to think that this little person who’s been living with you for 18 years is now old enough to be on her own. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I can remember being 18, for crying out loud.

So before she leaves, here is what’s rambling around in my head.

Whether you leave for school in September or stay here, this is your home. No matter what happens where you are, you can always come back. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can bail the second things get hard. Stick it out. Don’t take the easy path. Make it mean something.

You’re not done growing – we never are. There will be some big challenges coming up. You won’t succeed at all of them. That’s not always the point, anyway. Sometimes what you learn by failing is more important than succeeding.

Try new things. I wish I had. There will be so many opportunities for new adventures. Take advantage of them. If it’s not your thing, that’s cool. At least you’ll know and your pot of experiences will make you more interesting.

Be flexible. I know that’s hard for you. Sometimes the joy is in the unexpected and unplanned. Learn to like surprises.

Trust your gut. Make smart choices, especially when your safety is at risk. Don’t have 8 shots in 45 minutes at a party.

Admit when you’re wrong. It takes a big person to apologize. Be sincere.

BE ON TIME. It shows others you respect them and their time.

Do it right the first time. This isn’t high school anymore. You won’t be able to talk your way out of late assignments.

Balance your bank account. For the love of god. Save some money every time you get some. I wish I had been better about that along the way.

Hoochie is not classy. Start buying quality now.  Yoga pants are NOT pants. Dress like you respect yourself.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Avoid the comments – they will crush your soul.

Please be a Democrat. If you aren’t, don’t tell me.

The work that you think you’d like to do now is probably what you’d like to do 25 years from now. It’s true for me, yet I didn’t follow that path. I wish I had. Of course, if I had, I might have hated it, so who knows. See above re: flexible.

Put down the freaking phone. See what’s going around you. Be still sometimes. Let your mind wander. Be grateful for something, one thing, every single day.

And about that phone: those pics you’re always posting? They’re still out there. Be aware.

Surround yourself with people who are worth it. Let the toxic ones go even though it may hurt.

Finally. Life is really damn short. It seems now like it will last forever and you have all the time in the world. Trust me – you don’t. You will be pushing 50 before you know it, wondering what happens now. If you’re really lucky, you will have a partner who is your best friend. I selfishly hope there are grandbabies (but NOT for a good ten years). It won’t be perfect and it will take work, and sometimes it will be harder than you think you can manage. You can.

Above all that, you’ll have me and Dad and your little brother who’s bigger than you behind you all the way. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

(When the tears come, I know the words are right.)

Happy birthday.



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