On My Daughter’s 18th Birthday

mothers and daughters

photo: chicken-scratch.ca (google)

What I wanted most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be. 

— Helen Claes

It was 18 years ago this morning, May 4th, at 4:55 am, that I first held you, my beautiful girl in my arms.  I was young.  So young.  But, I wanted a baby, and you  were the one for me.  I remember being pregnant, and dreaming of a dark, curly-haired moppet with white skin and ruby lips running through a field towards me. And, that’s exactly what I got.  I got you.


Daughter of mine, the time has flown so fast, that if I try to stop and catch a breath, a moment with you will be lost forever.  Its like I blinked once and we were celebrating your first birthday.  I blinked again, and you were off to school.  Blink, and you turned 13, and made us so proud as you read from the Torah at your Bat Mitzvah.  Then you turned 16, learned to drive, got your first job, and your second.  Each of those milestones was exciting. This one, unlike the others, I hate to say, is breaking my heart just a tiny little bit.


It’s hard for me to admit it, but this birthday means you’re one minute closer to leaving us.  As of today, you’re an adult.  In two months you graduate from high school, and a few after that, off you go to follow your dreams.  I’m not melancholy because I worry about you.  I know that whatever you do, it will be fantastic.  Because, that’s just how you roll.  I’m melancholy because I want to keep you close, not let you go.


Even though we have some spectacularly explosive mother daughter moments, the kind that tear us apart for moments at a time, I know that they are necessary so you can grow, so you can flex your muscles as a strong and independent woman.  As you emerge from the years of teen angst, and finally begin to draw closer to us once again, it’s time for you to spread your wings and fly away.  So, I promise you, I will let those difficult times just fade away, and let them be lost amongst my hoarded memories of precious moments together, of your sweet smiles, and of even the briefest of hugs.


My girl, you are so incredible. You bear an amazing strength of conviction, honesty, and most of all, incredible self-confidence.  I can’t imagine another young woman your age who knows who she is, what she wants, and more importantly, what she doesn’t, like you do.  I know I wasn’t at all like that.  You are so much better than I was at your age, and for that, I truly admire you.


You are so talented-your eyes see beauty where mine see nothing.   Your fingers can create, your body moves to the music like no one is watching. When you smile the world lights up around you.  You are magical.


My daughter, my sweet baby girl, on today, your 18th birthday, I wish for you the stars.  I wish for you everything and then add to that infinity.  I wish great love for you, wherever you find it.   I wish that your dreams, whatever they may be, come true and if they don’t, that you make them happen.  I wish for you all of the beauty of the world, but the sadness too, because sadness makes you stronger and sadness makes the happy moments seem even more joyful.


My Sky, I know that forever you will be mine, and I will be yours.  Because you come from my dreams. And that’s forever.


There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. 

— John Gregory Brown