Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Letter to My 16 Year Old Daughter

**Note: I went on retreat last week with Mary Kate and we were asked to write a letter to each other.  Of course, I wrote and wrote but my paper and my time were for a week, I've continued the letter in my head.  It needed to become this.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.**

 "A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer." -- Author Unknown

Mary Kate's famous Strawberry Country Cake!

To my sweet, sweet daughter, Mary Kate,

I love you.  Please know that down to your core. Always know I love you, think about you, hope for you and wish for you joy, love and contentment in your life.  

There is nothing that can happen that will diminish my love and joy in you. You do not need to earn it, prove your worthiness or show how great you are, or how accomplished or successful.  I love you simply because you are you.

I loved you the moment I met you (at your least accomplished, most vulnerable, most needy moment) and my love has only grown stronger so please trust me when I say this: you are loved exactly as you are in this moment.

I credit you for teaching me one of life's most important lessons...when I was only a mother to Jack, I wondered if it was possible to love any other child with the depth and intensity and ferociousness that I felt for him.  I couldn't imagine it. But when you were born my world got a little bit brighter, my heart cracked open a bit more and my point-of-view shifted dramatically.

How childish of me to think of love as a pie -- with only a few slices in it that could possibly be all used up.  How juvenile to think of love as finite and limited! It took your presence in my life to show me the wisdom that love is limitless, infinite and well beyond our narrow understanding.  

Love is no pie.

Rather, it is a bubbling spring with a never-ending source.  It is the closest we get to God.  It has no end and our ability to love deeply, ferociously, intensely has no constraints or boundaries...we can do it over and over and over again.  It is miraculous.

I am so grateful for you, Mary Kate.  You are amazing and one-of-a-kind.  You are hilarious, passionate, filled with a strong sense of right and wrong and very caring.  

You are also way too hard on yourself.

I want you to carefully listen to what your mind tells you.  If it tells you that you don't measure up, that you aren't good enough or that you are blowing it --  it is lying to you.  Listen a little deeper...blow away the harsh words and listen for the acceptance and love that is in there.  Offer it to everyone but offer it to yourself first. Remind yourself that you can do anything.  You are strong and powerful and incredible.  Know it...really know it.

My hope for you is that you will trust the world and live with your arms wide open.  I hope you let yourself open up to others, put yourself out of your comfort zone and let yourself feel deeply.  Even if you get hurt or rejected, it is worth it...every friendship and relationship helps you to become the person you are supposed to be.  And even though it might hurt, that is what life is all about.

Beautiful Mary Kate...cherish your body.  Look at it and know beauty, health and strength.  When you look in the mirror, be grateful for your vision...notice the sun-kissed freckles of so many happy outdoor memories. When you hear someone call your name, feel the strength of the multitude of amazing women named Mary that are part of your family; hold within you the grace of Mary, the mother of all saints, and smile at that little bit extra we added to it: Katherine.  Your name holds faith and family and fun all within it. It's the first gift we gave to you.  We cloaked you in those three important threads of life hoping they would take root in your heart and be a guide.

Being a woman is a gift.  You are blessed by your feminine side...a sensitivity to the outsider, to the isolated, to the lonely.  You are a nurturer. You have a softness and a tenderness but it is shielded by an outward strength.  Be aware and generous in letting others know that soft and tender core.

One of your greatest attributes is your ability to "go for it".  You put on the tap shoes, pick up the lacrosse stick, belt out a song at an audition, bake an apple crustata and seize the day. I cannot tell you how much that humbles me...over and over again.  You do not hold back when you think there is an opportunity or something that intrigues you.  Transfer that uuumph to people too.  There are so many fantastic people that will cross your path and influence you if only you let them.  Give them a chance.

Give second chances.  Forgive people's mistakes or oversights.  Forgive your own.  We all blow it...almost every day.  That's my favorite part about going to sleep -- the gift of a new day.  We get to start over.  Every, single day.  Cherish the fresh start, the blank page and the new chapter.

Enjoy today.  Don't live for the future and don't steep in past mistakes.  All you have is today.  All that matters is now.  Whoever crosses your path today is who matters.  Stop and notice. Don't bank on seeing the person tomorrow. We never know. That is both the blessing and the curse of life. Enjoy today.

And now here is my final pearl on your very long necklace of advice I have beaded for you: attitude is everything.  You cannot change the circumstance.  You cannot change the hardship and trust me, you will have hardship.  Adversity will knock on your door and you will have no choice -- you must answer it.  How you greet that moment will define the path you take.  One of my favorite quotes is this: "Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional." Will you suffer?  Will you sink?  Will you succumb to the heartbreak?  You don't have to.  The choice is entirely up to you.  You decide the direction.  Do you choose hope?  Love?  Kindness?  All of those opportunities are present in any moment of difficulty. Notice the blessings.  Create your reality -- attitude is everything.

I know, I've had enough.  But, I never have!  I could talk to you forever...and who knows, maybe with my blog I will. :)  I love you...


  1. Beautiful.......just beautiful! Oh, how very lucky you are to have your precious daughter, Mary Kate! And how lucky, lucky, lucky she is to have you! Your letter is.....beyond words- just perfect!

  2. Beth...thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart with us, you put into words what so many of our Mother's heart feels...thank you for giving words to emotions, you are a gift and light to life.

  3. ...not sure how I wound up here, but that was awesomely wonderful and uplifting! Thank you :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this letter. My daughter is going to a retreat this month and we are asked to write a letter. Your letter gave me a lot of beautiful ideas on what to write. It really helps. Thanks again.

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  6. The only thing more beautiful than this letter must be God and your daughter. Thank you for sharing!