How can it be that 21 years have passed since I held you in my arms for the very first time. You were the first, the first baby I buckled into a car seat, the first baby I rocked ALL night long, the first baby I smothered in pink baby lotion. Yet somehow, I blinked, and you grew into a beautiful, creative, empathetic, passionate, spunky, amazing young lady. I blinked, and you finally slept through the night, even though I never thought you would. I blinked, and you could tie your own shoes, no more velcro or slip-on shoes needed. I blinked, and you were in the sixth grade talent show performing a pillowcase people dance with your childhood friends. I blinked, and you were headed to prom all dressed up, still innocent, yet looking rather mature. I blinked, and you moved to Nashville for college 800 miles away from home.
I am fairly certain that you, my brown-eyed girl, have taught me far more than I have taught you. You’ve taught me the true meaning of selfless love, sometimes annoyingly taught me to become a more patient parent, and unknowingly taught me to be a better person. With you first on my hip, then holding my hand, and now walking beside me, I have learned the importance of self-expression, self-examination, and self-reflection.
I am so proud to be your momma and in awe of how you approach life with such curious wonder and spirited courage. Even though you are in introvert in every sense of the world, you have friends all over the country. People are drawn to you. Whether we sent you to Young Life camp in Georgia where you didn’t know a soul, or dropped you off in Tennessee for college where you knew no one, or sent you to study abroad in a foreign country with people you hardly knew, you managed to come home with several new forever friends. I believe that is because you always see the good in others and always stand up for what is right, even if it means you are standing alone. Because you have a quiet strength and the admirable ability to bounce back from setbacks when life is unfair or unjust, your determination to never give up and keep dreaming inspires those around you.
I hope your 21st year of life is the best one yet. I’m so glad you were born. You are one of a kind, a true original. You are loved, and you have loved our family so well. You will always be my sweet Summertime, your Dad’s little girl, your brother’s best friend and role model, and we will always be your biggest fans. As your life story continues and you turn the page this summer to pursue your life long dream of living in New York, we all anxiously await with confident optimism knowing the next chapter you write will be even better than the last. I love you to the moon and back. Happy Birthday!