A Letter to My Daughter on Her 13th Birthday

by Jessica Hoefer-Land
Originally Published: 
A teenage girl looking into the distance

Well, you made it! You are officially a teenager.

I assumed you would be really excited about turning another year older, but strangely enough, you are fairly ambivalent about it.

I get it. All the hormones, periods and acne are wreaking havoc on your poor soul. You are battling the whole deep, dark world of middle school and soon, high school. You are in the process of trying to find your identity. I don’t envy you. This is the tough crap in life.

Yesterday you told me birthdays weren’t a big deal. You said it was just another year wasted and we all die eventually so what’s the point?

It scared me to hear you say that, but unfortunately, I had to admit that I battle the same thing.

I tried to encourage you, but you kinda blew me off. That’s OK. I hope in time you will remember what I said and what I’m telling you now.

Here’s the thing: It really does matter. You matter. Your life matters. What you do with your life matters. You have the opportunity to do well to those around you, to love and to serve and believe in something more. I believe you have a higher calling, one with eternal rewards. I pray you will never forget that beauty lies within you. I am excited to watch it unfold and make a difference in the lives you come in contact with.

I admit, mothering is the scariest thing ever because I want to do right by you. I really don’t want to have to pay for therapy for any crud I added to your life thus far. I’m sorry about divorcing your dad. Perhaps one day you will understand, but in the meantime, thank you for the grace you have shown me in this.

You have been blessed with a brilliant mind. Use it for good. Thank you for working so hard in school even though you don’t see the point and despise every single day you have to be there. Just remember one word. Scholarships. It counts.

I wish I’d had your strength when I was your age. I wish I knew about equality, diversity and wanting a woman for President the way you do now. I wish I had been passionate over something other than Barbies and boys. For that, I commend you. I am happy you are choosing deeper matters to concern yourself with.

I know you get embarrassed of me in public for laughing too loud or talking to people too much. That’s OK. I felt the same way with my mom. She embarrassed the ever loving crud out of me, but I got over it and hopefully one day you will too.

If you can, try not to lie. Lying sucks. I know firsthand because I’ve not only been the recipient of it, I’ve done it myself. Try to be truthful with me. I promise I won’t get angry; in fact, I will respect you more for having the courage to be honest.

I know it’s natural to pull away a little bit in order to discover more about yourself. I just hope you remember I’m still here when you need me, now and always. I’m waiting in the wings and available.

You told me you don’t want to work or ever have a job. Good luck with that. If you find out how to do it and make money, let me know. I want in on that gig.

I’m grateful to have you as my daughter, even when you ignore me in the morning and make me feel like the worst person ever. Also, thank you for the days you watched Downton Abbey with me. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

I love you.



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