Dear Fish,

You are now, officially, 13 years old. Well then, we have a teenager!

I’m not going to cry.

Ok, maybe a little.

Fish 13-1

Part of me wants to live in denial because, how can MY baby be 13 already? That makes me… Well, let’s just say that makes me older than 13 and leave it at that. Most of me is excited. As much as I tease you, I know there is really is no stopping this process and I wouldn’t want to anyway. You are growing into a most wonderful human bean. The kind of human bean who makes me laugh and think and keeps me on my toes.

You are now a third degree brown belt in karate and you have moved up to the Junior classes. You are most definitely holding your own with your peers as well as your older classmates. Several of your instructors have commented on the ease with which you have risen to the new challenges. You were recently invited to join the STORM (Special Team of Role Models) program where you have begun weapons training with a bow staff. You’ve accomplished all of that in just under a year and a half of studying karate. GO GIRL!!

Fish 13-2

After three years in pain, you were diagnosed with food sensitivities earlier this year. The diagnosis drastically changed what you are able eat. It hasn’t been “fun”, but you’ve taken these changes in stride, trying all kinds of new foods and generally trying to make the best of it. You are slowly returning to cooking for yourself and for others. You still make a gawd-awful mess in the kitchen and your Dad and I continue to educate you on the fine are of cleaning up after yourself.

You continue to thrive in middle school. You have encountered the social challenges that are so much a part of being in middle school and worked hard to learn from the situations. You are getting better at using the tools necessary to your success as a person with a visual impairment, but thankfully you refuse to let you condition hold you back from the things you want to do.

Fish 13-3

You enjoy family time, sometimes. But, as expected, you spend many hours behind closed doors. You’d never tell him, but you love your brother ferociously despite the fact that he can drive you bananas. It’s my understanding that is part of his job description.

You are in that awkward stage where you are too old for little kid games, but the little kids still consider you one of them. This raises a challenge when you are “in-charge” but everyone is adapting. You are anxious to be part of the grown-up world, but not quite ready for all that entails and frankly, the grown-ups aren’t quite ready for you to be a grown up yet either :). It doesn’t mean we don’t think you can handle it, it means we want you to enjoy childhood for as long as you can. There is no magic in being a grown-up. It appears cool because we are able to do things and make decisions that you would like to, but with those activities and decisions comes responsibilities that can be overwhelming. You are incredibly responsible for your age and for that I am grateful. Just remember, it’s our job to guide you through the process of learning to balance the privileges and the responsibilities so you grow into a self-sufficient human being. Be patient, and enjoy your unencumbered life while you can.

Fish 13-4

You are endlessly curious and as a result, very knowledgeable about many things. If you want to know something you’ll work to find the answer. If you find it, you’ll share the results. If you don’t you’ll search out someone who can give you the information you need.

I love your giggly, kissy side. I love that we share similar tastes in music. You listen to and, appreciate some of mine and I like some of yours. I never would have expected to add pop stations to my favorites in the car, but I have. Sometimes the the lyrics make me cringe, but often, they launch important conversations about, sex, drugs, alcohol, choices and self respect.

Fish 13-5

I enjoy the time that we get to spend together just you and I. I am grateful that you trust your thoughts to me. I hope that will continue. I try to answer you questions as honestly as I can even if I know the answer I have isn’t always the answer you want. Life is hard like that. Part of me wants to make it easy for you, but most of me knows that’s not the best path. I’m not perfect, but truthfully, I’m not aiming for perfect. I’m aiming for honest and real. It’s taken me a long time to realize that there is no such thing as perfection. I’ve learned that what matters is giving your best and respecting that we all have limits. I will always encourage you to go above and beyond, but learning to say “I’ve done my best and can’t do anymore” is as valuable as persistence.

Fish 13-6

Our mother/daughter relationship isn’t without it’s challenges, we are after all, both human but I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far of saying “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” when the situation warrants.

A teenager, wow! I’m so excited to see what is in store for you. You are exploring who you are and figuring out who you want to be and it is fun to watch and support you as you work it out.

Love you Fish. Happy Birthday.



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