A moving letter from my mom that I recieved on my 16th birthday:
Sixteen years ago you came into my life and changed it so totally that I
cannot image it without you. You fill my days with every emotion from
pleasure and pride to anger and impatience. But most of all you fill each
with your presence, your ever changing Megganess, and even when you are
you are in my brain and heart.
It is so hard to watch you grow up, but I feel you are doing a very good
of it. Each year I have seen you change and you are showing all the
characteristics and character of a fine young woman. People always tell me
how charming and funny you are, how wonderful you look and how interesting
you are to talk to -- I am glad to hear these compliments -- but I can see
for myself. There are many minutes, hours, days, when you are a very
difficult teenager to live with -- but that is to be expected. Your
are always "up front", both the good and the bad. They always will be. That
is who you are.
You have a wonderful quality of independence that I value and respect. I
cannot image myself at 16 ever going to Dominica alone -- yet I can't
you not going. You are an astounding and confusing mix of willingness to
new things and fear of failing at the every day parts of life. That will
change with maturity as you see yourself succeeding and learn to trust
yourself. You will make mistakes, fail at things, hurt yourself in a
multitude of ways, everyone does, but the power to achieve is in every
of you and the will to get what you want will push you past the fear of
rejection and failure. I have never been a risk taker and it has limited me
in ways you probably cannot see. You must be willing to take risks - the
of failing passes quicker then the regret of not trying.
Every year you get stronger emotionally as well as physically -- who else
power a home run like you can - and I hope you see a little bit more of the
wonderful qualities that those of us who love you have seen since you were
baby. When you were in kindergarten you "adopted" a little boy who didn't
quite fit in. His name was Jeffrey and he was slower then the rest of the
children and had awkward ways about him. You were his friend in class; you
stopped to help him and to talk to him and made his life happier because he
could count on you to never ridicule him. Your teacher, Mrs. Beatty, who
adored you, told me about this and said that she saw that you would always
a person with a good heart, a quality she valued above all. Eventually we
learn to read and write and drive and cook and hold a job, but we cannot
"learn" a good heart.
When I was growing up 16 was a special birthday -- "Sweet Sixteen". Here in
Rochester, it is the time when everyone goes to get a driver's permit. I
suppose that driving is a mark of growing up in the suburbs in 1999 (it is
your first real ticket to independence), just as a "Sweet 16" corsage with
16 sugar cubes(how tacky now that I think of it) was the mark of passage
towards adulthood in my time since the subway provided independence long
before 16 and few of us drove until later in life. Why is 16 more special
then 15 or 17 -- I don't know. Perhaps it is the best time to stop and
-- look back to where you have come from, to see who you were and who you
-- before plunging forward into adulthood, with all of its challenges and
responsibilities. It is a time when parents can still try to protect the
child in you since you are still permitted to act like a child, but you can
safely assert your independence - parents still love their most obnoxious
So today is special, and you are special. Not just because you are my
daughter, but because you are a unique individual and one that I respect
enjoy being with. It gives me great pleasure to know that you love music
photography. And you have a very "good eye" not just in softball, but also
the visual arts that I like so much. And you have taste, lots of it.
are tenacious when you want something and you use words so well. And lately
see your writing as having a very strong quality of emotion and feeling.
as a young person you have figured out how to talk to people -- almost
instinctive in your "people skills". All these qualities are sometimes
covered over by anger and shouting and frustration and impulse, but as you
mature you will get more control and channel those intense emotions more
productively. This is a natural process too, just like thinking your
are godlike, then morons, then boring, then wise.
So take this day and reflect and then go forward. Make this a better place
for yourself and those who love you. And we always will.