A Love Letter to My Incredible Daughter on Her 31st Birthday
Dearest Elissa Jamie,
When I was of age to start thinking about having children of my own, all I could think of was how much I wanted a daughter. Being quite the girly-girl I am and a bit of a fashionista, I thought of a mini-me and how cute it would be to have one of those. (Thus the matching outfit photos of the two of us that are scattered throughout our family photo albums.)
Imagine my thrill when during the many ultrasounds required during my difficult (high-risk) pregnancy with you, (before the era of “gender reveals” and it being a given to know the gender of the child beforehand,) the ultrasound tech said you were spread out wide-eagle in one of them and she could most assuredly tell me your gender if I wanted to know.
That was the day I found out I would have a daughter if I could just keep you healthy and within the womb for the full term. Yet you were a fighter and you were born a perfect (if colicky) specimen right on time.
I became so excited about having a daughter after having the best son on earth, that my friends threw me a girly-girl shower and I received teeny-tiny fashionista stuff for you.
In pregnancy, I was always thinking how you would emulate me because that’s what I imagined having a daughter was for, and I wasn’t looking beyond that. It is true that you share my love of music, SHOES-accessories-clothes, and large closet spaces; and you also have creativity and writing ability and leadership qualities like me, but you have way surpassed me in terms of achievement and accomplishments already in your young life. You are so much more than someone to go shopping with or share girly things with. In fact you are MY role model these days.
From the moment you arrived, you astounded me with the depth of your intelligence and ability. You were walking and talking in real words and small sentences at 10 months old, and I have the videos to prove it. When there was a doubter among our family about your early skills, I whipped out those videos in which I announced your age, and that “doubter” marveled at your prodigy ability at only 10 months old.
From then on, it was achievement after achievement, too numerous to detail in full, but it was incredible that due to your being born one day before the school cut-off, you were the youngest of your peer group. Instead of struggling to catch up, you have always been the one others look up to, and were a leader among your peers. It seems that in every school and extra-curricular category, you were a star. Every time I bump into your fourth grade teacher, who held on to your fourth grade portfolio for 10 years after you left her class because it was so outstanding and she wanted to keep it as a perfect example of a fourth grade portfolio, she reminds me how extra special a student you were of all the many students she has taught over the years. From there, you went on to junior national honor society, national honor society in high school, and an AP honors scholar.
When you were given wings at the age of 17 to leave our nest and go off to college, you did so with ease even though you (again) were a full year younger than most of your peers. You excelled there too, and led in so many areas, it would take up too much space to mention them all.
My scrapbooks brim with all of the reasons you gave me to kvell and be so proud of you through your school years.
Now in adulthood, you have continued to be a leader, in addition to your compassion and caring in your profession. As a mental health therapist, you give tender care and hope to people daily in their battle with illness. It wasn’t enough to have a demanding career, you chose to be a leader again and again in your community; most notably MoHo, where you founded and built the program with your other two Angels. You led a mission to Cuba and participated in other humanitarian missions.
I had nowhere near all of the accomplishments in 31 years that you have had, as I was a late bloomer and wasn’t motivated for success until post high school. That is another reason I look up to you.
When I see how well you listen to people, it explains why you chose the career you did, and it explains why you have so many close friends. You began listening to others in a very caring and devoted way in elementary school, and as an adult you have taught me to listen better and I am still working on that to better emulate YOU.
Remarkably, when you had so much going for you in your adult life in Dallas, you imagined your life would be better if you were closer to your immediate family, and you and Josh (your wonderful husband) made the difficult decision to move to Houston. You left behind an amazing community of friends and came back to me, and I will always be beyond grateful for that alone. Having my daughter close by is a dream come true.
Most of all, I admire you for your big heart. I really feel that you are such a positive force in this mixed-up mostly crazy world, and I am so proud I brought you into this world and raised someone who gives me hope of a better society in our future years.
Yes, I am a lucky, lucky mom and I don’t get the chance to tell you that enough, so here is this birthday love letter.
Love forever and a day,
Your number one fan and devoted and loving Mama.