My baby girl is 18 today. As of 2:09 PM, to be exact. I suppose this means that neither ‘baby,’ or ‘girl’ quite fit any longer; this is something that every parent must concede of their offspring at some point. However, being the fact that she is walking proof that my heart resides outside of my body, I will not relinquish the right to call her such!
Cassandra came into this world when her father and I were not much older than she is now. When the final push brought her into the harsh light of the world, my heart broke. It was a complicated delivery, and for the first five minutes after, I had no indication that she was even alive. She was an unnatural shade of purple, not moving, not crying, not possessing any sign of life at all, and they had whisked her away immediately to the other side of the operating room. Those five minutes consisted of a doctor trying to stitch up tears as I was fighting against both him and stirrups to see what was happening ten feet away from me. She was surrounded by a group of doctors, nurses, and trainees and neither myself or her father could see her or knew what was happening.
It was the longest five minutes of my life.
After what seemed like an eternity, an intern turned around and gave me a thumbs up. At that moment, I knew my baby girl had pulled through and was going to be okay. She was a fighter then – and still is to this day. The dreams her Dad and I had may not have come true, but the best one did, in our daughter.
Being a mother has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. It is the one thing in my life that I have prayed to not fail at, even if I fail at everything else. I have not always been the best mother, but where I have failed as her parent, she has never failed me as my child. Casey has been the most wonderful daughter any mother could ever wish for. She is smart, funny, obstinate, driven, emotional, empathetic, and a pretty damn good cook to boot. We have laughed together, cried together, fought together as well as with each other. I have loved every minute of it, every moment with her, and there is nothing I would change about her.
To Casey: As you go on with this next phase of your life, there are a few things I pray you hold close:
- Do not ever lose sight of who you are, for anyone. Society has a way of making people feel insecure. Do not hold yourself to those standards. You are an amazing, unique, and beautiful young lady. Do not let anyone tell you any different, or make you feel any less.
- You have such great dreams, and dreams are what life is made of. Never be afraid to follow them. It is okay to be scared. Just don’t let fear paralyze you into inaction.
- Dance. Sing. Laugh. Be your own kind of uninhibited crazy.
- Don’t drive, text, make late night calls or Facebook when drinking. Ever. They’re ALL bad.
- Don’t stress over things you cannot control. It doesn’t solve anything – it just causes more stress. If it isn’t going to matter much in five years, it shouldn’t matter much now.
- Don’t expect people to have the same values as you do. You will only be disappointed.
- There is never a perfect time for anything. Go after what you want – today – because tomorrow may never come.
- Our time on earth is short. Do not waste yours trying to make other people happy. You will NEVER be able to make everyone happy. It is YOUR life – so live it for YOU.
- It’s okay to make mistakes. Just learn from them.
- Apologize when you hurt someone, and accept apologies from others. Life is too short to be angry and bitter.
- On that note, don’t accept too many apologies for the same thing from the same person. It’s ok to let toxic people go. Just because some people never learn from their mistakes, doesn’t mean you need to suffer them.
- Always say I love you – but only when you mean it.
- And finally, it is never too late, until it is. You only get one shot at this, kiddo. Make it the best you possibly can!
I will never be able to find the words to express how proud I am of you. You truly are an amazing young lady, and I know you have great things coming. The world may not know how blessed it is for having you in it, but I do.
I love you baby girl. Happy birthday!