A Letter to My Daughter on her 13th Birthday

Dear Vivien,

As of 7:20 this morning, you are officially a teenager. I’m as excited about that as I am scared. You’ve got so many amazing milestones coming up … starting with your elementary school graduation today (how many kids get to graduate on their birthdays?), a new school in the fall and maybe even a few dance dates next year. (We’re going to have to medicate your poor dad on those weekends. I’m not sure he’ll be able to stand it.)

You were a pretty easy baby, arriving only one day before your due date after a mere five hours of labor. Being a younger sibling, you were (and still are) determined to do everything at the same time as your older sibling. I’ll never forget the first time your brother, an overprotected first-born, had gum. He was five years old. You know when you first had gum? Three seconds later when two-year-old you who was sitting next to him at the time demanded it. I guess that’s not uncommon for younger siblings. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years.

Irish novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde (you’ll learn about him in high school) once said, ‘With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” In other words, don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up. As someone with probably a little more age than wisdom, I’d like to impart some of the more important things I’ve learned (and am still learning) in my lifetime.

If you’ll indulge me just a moment …

Brush your teeth. I’ve been telling you this one for as long as I can remember. But there’s a reason. If I could do it all over again, I’d work harder to have way less metal in my mouth. You only get one set of adult teeth. (And at such an early age. Seriously, that’s a poor design.) Treat them better than you’d treat your own jewelry.

Keep up with your school work. If your assignment is to go home and read The Taming of the Shrew, do it. Once you fall behind, it’s almost impossible to catch up again. And no amount of Spark Notes and chatter with classmates will serve as a replacement for simply doing the work. Plus you might actually like the book. They don’t call them classics for nothing.

Avoid girl drama. I cannot emphasize this one enough. I know gossip can be tempting. And sometimes even entertaining. But it’s not worth it. And you will always feel bad when you allow yourself to give in to it. Take the high road, smile politely and excuse yourself from the table to get something to drink. Chances are, when you come back they’ll be onto another subject.

Do not cut off all your hair because you’re having a bad day. This sentence could also have started with “Do not perm your hair because … yada yada yada.” When you wake up the next morning, whatever’s troubling you will likely have lessened and things will be way better if you’re not looking at them through a fuzzy mop top.

Learn to eat well. Truth? I’m still learning on this one. (Pathetic, right?) By “well,” I don’t mean everything has to be kale and carrots. Eating well means learning to balance the healthy with the indulgent … everything in moderation. Extreme behavior never works and will set you up for a lifetime of food struggles. Do yourself a favor and adopt a healthy lifestyle now.

Trim the fat. If there’s someone in your life who’s causing you nothing but stress and unhappiness, find a way to eliminate them from your circle. Surround yourself with people you can trust. People who can make you laugh until you choke on your own spit. Or cry until your face is swollen to twice its size. These are the people you’ll take with you for the entirety of your life.

Do not let boys control you in any way. I’m sorry. I know your dad is a boy. And your brother. And grandfather, etc. But I guarantee they would all agree with me. Teenage boys are notoriously stupid. They take risks and act without thinking. A lot. And they pressure others to join them in these foolish endeavors. Please remember that no boy is worth doing something you know isn’t a good idea.

Which reminds me …

If I couldn’t be there sitting beside you

watching whatever it is that you’re doing,

it’s probably a bad idea.


Please find another activity.

The bottom line is … so far, you’ve been a wonderful daughter who has made me proud to be your mother (almost) every day now for thirteen years. Do I expect the same greatness in the coming years? Hell to the yes, I do. Do I expect you to stumble and make mistakes from time to time? Well, unfortunately, that’s also a yes. But know that I’ll be waiting for you … every time you fall … to help you get up and dust yourself off again. That’s a promise you can take to the bank. Like my own mother, I plan to be there for my children until my time here is done.

So please know that whether you’re struggling over an English exam, a big promotion at your glamorous job or even a new baby one day, I will always be there for you. You (and your brother) are my absolute pride and joy. And there is literally nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

Happy Birthday.

Happy Graduation.

Happy Just to Be Your Mother.


“Children make your life important.”
– Erma Bombeck


Mamakat writing prompt: Share a lesson you learned from your Mother that still sticks with you to this day.

“I plan to be there for my children until my time here is done.”


35 responses to “A Letter to My Daughter on her 13th Birthday

  1. Beautiful. Utterly beautiful.

  2. I wish I had had something like this when I turned 13! Beautiful.

  3. Wow. This is so beautiful, Michele. Happy birthday to your sweet girl. 🙂

  4. Such a beautiful note to a girl that is pure sunshine!
    You’re smart and you’ll raise her to be too, she’s lucky to have you as a mama.

    HAPPY13th to your Vivien!!!xo

  5. I also never expected rebellion from my kids and they never gave me any! Thanks for joining OMHG Wordless Wednesday.


  6. Excellent advice, Michele. Ah…13. Wow. Vivien is a beautiful girl and she’s got a terrific mama. Wishing her a very happy 13th birthday and you and Dave a smooth ride through the teen years! xo

  7. I am new to your blog, but oh, I love this post. What a lucky daughter who has an incredibly devoted and loving momma! Your daughter is adorable! Great, great advice for a 13 year old…only wish you had been there with me when I did stupid things for stupid boys…I wasn’t 13, much older, but perhaps your advice would have stuck and saved me lots of heartache.

  8. That was beautiful! Happy Birthday.

  9. This is some great advice and such a beautiful young woman. PS Boys of all ages are stupid, we just learn to manage them, right? lol

  10. Happiest of days to the newest teenager. We love you, Viv. So proud of all you’ve mastered and accomplished! You truly make this world a better place!! All our love!!

  11. So sweet… as is your daughter.
    God bless you both!
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/05/textures.html

  12. Thank you for joining our Oh My Heartsie Girl Wordless Wednesday Link Party. Absolutely beautiful & such great advice for your daughter, thank you for sharing. Have a great day, co-host Evija @Fromevijawithlove

  13. How beautiful! My oldest is 2 years behind Viv, and this is all wonderful advice that I will keep in mind for her. Brought me to tears… though my feels live just below the surfaces these days w/ my baby graduating pre-school and my big girl graduating elementary. Sniffles. Well done!

  14. omg those BABY PICTURES THOUGH!! So much wonderful advice. When all else fails, at least she’ll have a beautiful, wise, and hilarious mother to turn to. 😉

  15. Hello!! I’m a fan of yours who took a hiatus from blogging and is now back! I was thrilled to run across you today! And wow… what a great post. I really needed to hear some “mom” advise today!

  16. What a truly wonderful letter! I wish I would have thought of something at that age. Mine are a little older….get ready for some exciting times ahead! Loved this post, and your sense of humor! Thanks for sharing!

    • I love that there’s actually somebody out there with kids older than mine. I feel like everybody else is still in diapers, testing out the latest pacifiers and baby toys. I look to you for advice and counsel, o wise one!

  17. Happy birthday to your sweet girl!! Love this so much!

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