It’s the day before your birthday as I sit and write this letter. Earlier today I went to Party City to get balloons as we will celebrate your birthday at breakfast tomorrow. This early celebration will happen because you will be at dance rehearsal until long past dinner on the day you turn 13. This feels both weird and totally logical at the same time- a reminder of this liminal space you hold. You are still a child who will love coming downstairs to see the table decorated with balloons and confetti but with each day you are becoming more and more the adult you will soon be.
I’m not sure how it is that you are turning thirteen. Each year when I write these letters, I shake my head in confusion that you could possibly be so old but this year, objectively, is a big one. You will be a teenager. We no longer have any children in the house. That said, part of what I love the most about you is your ability to be both mature and so fun loving. I was talking with one of your favorite dance teachers last night about your maturity but then also about your ability to be with girls younger than you and still have a great time. This is pretty unique behavior for a teenager. You have always followed your instincts and surrounded yourself with people who make you feel happy regardless of their age or who their friends are or what your friends think of them. You are fiercely independent in your choice of friends and it is something special to watch.
This year has been such a huge year of emotional growth for you. You have found your voice and the strength to use it. For years, you were more of an observer during family conversations. You would always tell me your opinion on things but more often than not, you would wait until we were alone. Now, you are are active part of our conversations and I love hearing your thoughts (and of course your quiet humor) mixed in to our discussions.
Academically, you continue to grow as well. I love watching you make a plan to get all your work done before you leave for the studio. You often have to juggle a lot and you have created a way to plan ahead and get everything done in the limited amount of time you have. You still say you don’t love school but you are telling us more stories about things you learn and conversations you are having in the classroom.
And of course, I can’t write a birthday letter without mentioning how much you, as a dancer, inspire me and everyone around you. Your dedication and commitment to your art are truly remarkable. Each year it seems that you find a way to work harder than the year before. While I change my mind about my loves every time the wind blows (or at least sometimes it feels this way), you have never wavered. From your years as a tiny girl, you have promised that you will dance professionally one day. I used to think that this might be a passing phase but with each year, your resolve grows stronger. You are laser focused on your goal and all your hard work shows. You are beautiful to watch on stage. I never tire of it.
So… Happy Birthday baby girl. May today and this year be all that you want it to be.