To our remarkable youngest daughter:
It’s taken me years to write you this letter and it’s long overdue. There have been many times that I’ve tried to put my feelings into words, and many times I’ve failed. Not because I don’t care enough to tell you my heartfelt thoughts, but because I worry that words won’t do justice to my heart and how it feels but today, on your 31st birthday, I’m going to give it a shot. If there is anything that my MS has taught me, its to live in the moment and celebrate all the good in my life and this is one of those times.
First and foremost, let me tell you how much I love you. I’m beyond proud to be your mom and while we have had our fair share of ups and downs, I feel that we have weathered the storms with grace and dignity and have been a great teacher to each other. You are one of the reasons I am the woman I am today, and I thank you for that. As you are learning with your own children, it is an amazing journey to watch your child grow in front of your eyes. Time just moves and with it, new things and new adventures but now that you are a woman, wife, & mother I am left asking myself, “where did the time go and did I do enough?”
As I struggled to find the balance of loving you and all that I desired to give you, I know I fell short, a lot of the time. I sometimes failed to give you the attention you deserved. I failed at keeping my temper when all you wanted was to ask me a question, but I was too busy to stop what I was doing and let you speak. I failed at laughing with you while you played and sang at the top of your lungs. I failed at forgiving you when it was never your intention to hurt me, it was your intention to be a kid. And for that, I am sorry. I am sorry for letting you down and sometimes failing to be the parent that you deserved and I’m sorry for giving up at times when you needed me the most. I hope you can forgive me for my shortcomings. What you don’t know is that I was scared, in fact I was terrified. Your dad and I were afraid that we were going to drop the ball and not be who you needed us to be. Thank you for the patience while we figured out how to parent you and your brother and sister.
You need to know that I am proud of you. Proud of your accomplishments and achievements, but more importantly, of who you have become in life. Not what you do, but who you are at your core. Your caring for others, your sensitivities to those around you, your love and compassion. You are a wonderful friend and are so very giving and caring. You show big love to those whom you care about and cherish. You do things your way and while it was sometimes hard to watch, I have always loved that about you. And your heart—I’m surprised that big heart fits in your chest. You feel sympathy so deeply, kindness comes naturally, and empathy is always front and center
I’ve always wanted to protect you. I wanted to wrap you up in a blanket full of love and warmth. We always wanted to shield you and not subject you to all that was out there in this world, but you could not be held back. You wanted to take on this world and live life to the fullest and that is exactly what you did. Did you do everything by the book? Nope. Were there bumps in the road? Yep. But you did everything on your terms, and you were willing to accept the consequences of those actions whatever they may be. I couldn’t be prouder of you. As you know, this world is not always kind to women, but you are so very strong. You’ve faced some things in life that would set many adults into a downward spiral of self-pity. But you have shown your true strength, strength that can’t be taught or inherited. You faced things head-on; you figured out how to learn from those experiences (however painful that was), and you grew from them. You did not let those bumps in the road define you and who you became. They have just been a warrior patch that you have worn showing strength, bravery and resiliency. You are writing your own story and I am in awe of you.
I love watching you parent, I love watching what you are teaching your children. You are a kick ass mommy! You are showing them that it is ok to speak up respectfully, its ok to speak out passionately if you are being respectful of others opinions and its ok to cry. You tell them that not everyone is going to like them but that’s ok. You teach them that their job is to be kind to others, do their best, fight for those who can’t fight for themselves and to be exactly who they are because who they are is perfect.
But this letter is about you and me so even with all of that I want to tell you a couple other things about YOU that matter to ME. As I stand here today, I feel the need to share these with you because these are just a few of the reasons I am bursting at the seams with pride for the beautiful woman you are. Some are little things, but sometimes those little things can be the big things in life, and they should be celebrated. These are some of the things that matters to me about you:
It matters to me that you know the importance of doing the right thing, even when no one is watching and despite how the rest of the world behaves around you. It matters to me that you are kind and that you don’t judge others. It matters to me that you try your best to make a difference in the people that you love, no matter how small a gesture it may be. It matters to me that you know how to give and receive love and it matters to me that you appreciate nature and your surroundings. It matters to me that you respect others even when they disrespect you and it matters to me that you don’t define yourself by other people’s definition of you. It matters to me that you know how to shoot a gun and provide for your family. It matters to me that you don’t define others by who you perceive them to be and it matters to me that you appreciate your family and make an effort to be at every family function even when I know you could make other choices of where to spend your time. It matters to me that you know that actions speak louder than words and it matters to me that you participate in the world from a place of love not fear, and that your heart always leads – not your ego. It matters to me that you have dreams and you do your best to make them come true for yourself and for those you love. It matters to me that you smile at others, even when you are hurting inside and it matters to me that you believe goodness always exists, even when it seems like it doesn’t. It matters to me that when you stand up for what you believe, you do so without stepping on others. It matters to me that you choose to be a good listener – not just a hearer (you get that from your dad) and it matters to me that you choose your words carefully weighing the impact that they may have (another thing you got from your dad). There’s more: Your passions, your dreams, your interests, your heart – they all matter to me.
Even though you are a grown woman, I hope you know that you can come to me anytime and I will be there cheering you on, supporting you, I will encourage you and be your balcony person. And I hope you also know that you can expect me to be real and honest with you even if it is sometimes hard to hear or hard for me to say. I’ll speak the truth, from my heart, but still respect your truths because your heart and that free spirit that you have always had within you matters to me.
My hope is that you continue to walk your journey in life with humility and a strong sense of right and wrong. That you continue to embrace life, confidently and bravely pursuing your dreams and finding joy in the little things and always know that even in your weakest moments, I am proud to be your Mom.
Here’s the bottom line…..
I respect and love you. Never stop being you. The world needs more Casey’s in it!