WOW. How did that happen. It was just yesterday I took this photo while we were in Paris.
In the last 19 years I have learned so many lessons from her. How to be patient. How to really appreciate the small things and most importantly- The capacity to love is not like a cup that gets full. It grows every day.
As she gets older I realize that LOVE will be in her future. Here are some lessons that I hope to pass on.
1. Follow Your Heart
I believe that our heart knows what is right, and what is best. Sometimes when we want something (or someone) that isn’t for us, we try to justify or rationalize it, but the heart knows. Do the things that make you smile. Surround yourself with people that make your heart smile.
2. Be the Best at Loving
When you grow up, you will realize that I wasn’t as perfect as you believed (pretty sure you figured that out at 13- but give me the benefit of the doubt). You will realize I wasn’t the best at doing the laundry (and that my best cleaning happened right after I learned we were having company). You will realize there are better chefs than me. That sometimes I wasn’t really using the bathroom; I was faking it for some alone time. But I hope you will see that I was really great at one thing: loving you. It’s one of the things people will remember most about you: the way you treated them, the way you valued them, and the way you loved them.
3. People First
Things are nice to have. Pretty, shiny things, perhaps even nicer. And some things are necessary. But things do not make life worth living. People do. Material possessions can be replaced; people cannot. Take away the people you love, and suddenly things no longer matter. All the more reason to put them first. Love them while they are here.
4. Hug Just a Little Longer
Lately there has been such heartbreak going on in the world; I am constantly being reminded of how much is out of my control. I am reminded of how much I hope for just another day to love each other with all we’ve got. And as you grow I am constantly reminded of how precious time is. How fast the small moments pass. Before I knew it, you are no longer a little girl. One day you will have your own family. But for now, while I have you here with me, I will hold you in my arms each chance that I get. I will hold you just a little longer, even when my arms ache or I am tired — because you don’t get moments back; you are only left with memories.
5. Fall in Love with Yourself
You see that face staring back at you when you look in the mirror? She is a jewel. She is beautifully and fearfully and wonderfully made. While people will often first notice you for your looks, your looks are only a part of who you are — and beauty is fleeting. Your heart, your character, and the kindness you show have the ability to outshine bright eyes or pouty lips. Your intelligence and the things that you have to share and say will come to mean more than how much your outfit costs. Realize that one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is love. If you know your worth you will be mindful of how you allow others to treat you.
6. Be You
If you were to ever ask me for dating advice one day, I will most likely tell you to be you. And I am probably right. When someone falls for you, you want them to fall for the person you are, not the person you thought they wanted you to be. Besides, who wants to go through life as someone other than his or her true self? The right person will have the ability to love an imperfect you perfectly.
7. Don’t Fear Failure
As parents we always hope that our children will learn from our mistakes, but sometimes you have to make your own to truly “get it.” Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Some things will work out, and others won’t, but if you believe in your heart of hearts that something is worth it, have the courage to leap. Mistakes are inevitable, but the great thing about them is they have the ability to become life lessons.
8. There Is Life (and Love) After a Broken Heart
It may sound odd but I really never fell in love before I met your mom. I know some of your friends may have pictured themselves marrying every guy they ever dated. Of course, when things ended, they thought it was the end of the world. You will see that life goes on — and most often love follows. While the idea of your heart breaking makes my eyes well up with tears, I hope you know that my arms will always be here to hold you. My arms will always be a safe place for you.
These are some of the lessons that I hope to teach you. I will always be thankful to be your dad. I will cherish the days I have shared with you. Love is a powerful force. It gives us strength, courage, and a reason to fight. It makes our journey more joyous and even the greatest of challenges bearable. The heart, although fragile and precious, is strong. It allows you to carry the people you love most with you no matter where they are. I carry you in my heart always. And no matter what happens, no matter where life takes us, I will always be in yours too.
Happy Birthday My Princess.
PS- Congratulations on making Deans List High Honors.
One of our favorite songs