To my sweet Tegan,
You turned three years old today. Three years! That really shouldn't surprise me, because I've watched you growing and learning every day the past three years, and I've been with you every step of the way. I know every story, I remember every wound. I've seen you become the amazing little girl that you are. But you know, to be a mom, and see your babies growing up... especially your last baby... there's always something about it that catches you off guard. That bittersweet moment of wondering, "How did you get so big so fast?"
And it's important for you to know: I'm pretty much in awe of you. You're three years old, and you are just so perfectly and authentically YOU. You know exactly what you like, and exactly what you don't, and you're always true to both. You have a whole drawer full of cute little jeans that you never wear, because you're just not a jeans girl. You don't like ponytails, instead choosing to leave your hair long and loose, beautiful and crazy curls bouncing around your shoulders. You're particular about your chocolate, and you absolutely love sausage (which, I'd be remiss not to mention, you still consistently call "hostages.")
You love Dora and Diego, you love reading books and drawing pictures, and you love dancing in the living room. You love walking baby Luna out to the car when she leaves. You love laughing and being silly. You always appreciate potty humor. You love to be naked. You love your pink swing. You love painting your fingernails. You love helping me bake. You are sweet and genuine and love surprising people. You love your family.
You are wonderful.
And today, on your birthday, I have to ask you something. I have to ask you to never lose that absolutely beautiful self of you. Embrace it, and stay true to it, and never let anyone tell you that are anything less than perfectly and uniquely created just as you are. Do what makes you happy, and always follow your own heart. While the world (or even people you love) may tell you you're crazy, or dreaming, or weird, YOU are the one who gets to choose how you live your life... from the work you do, to the company you keep, to the way you treat people, right down to the way you wear your hair.
You are you. You're an individual. Be proud of that, and never compromise on who you are for the sake of fitting in. It's okay to be different, and it's okay to blaze your own trail. Never let anyone else tell you who you should be... not me, not your friends, not "society."
In return, I make this promise to you:
I promise to love you, unconditionally. I promise to encourage you, to help you, to be there for you. I promise to be your ear, your shoulder, and your cheerleader. I promise to support you in your efforts, and advocate for your passions. I promise to treat you with kindness and respect and in a manner that I would like to be treated. I promise that when I mess up (and I will mess up occasionally) that I will own up to it, and I will apologize, and I will do better the next time. I promise to hold you close when you want me, and to let you go when you don't. I wish I could promise to protect you from every hurt, every disappointment, every heartbreak... but I can't. I can promise to pick you up when you fall, to wipe your tears when you cry, and to sit beside you as you mourn.
And I promise to let you be you.
Thank you, for the past three years. Thank you for being you, and thank you for teaching me to be a better me as well.