My Dear Angel,
On this, your 16th birthday, I am filled with too many emotions to count or decipher.
Where should I begin?
I could start by telling you how I am proud of the amazing young woman you are becoming. I could go all the way back to lessons your grandmother taught me simply by virtue of the amazing, loving woman she is. She taught me many important lessons, of the kind that shapes you for a lifetime and empowers you to follow your own unique path. She didn't say much; she didn't need to. Her actions said it all. There was never a day I felt unloved, or feared that I could ever lose her love. I knew that whatever missteps I made in this life, she would always be there beside me, supporting me, loving me. And you should know that, too.
There is another lesson, one I have tried to impart to you since you were a little girl. Remember this...? I still say it to you when the ugly face of self-doubt tries to rear its head:
"If ever there is tomorrow when we are not together... There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll ALWAYS be with you." -Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
I hope you will always keep that lesson close to your heart, and that, perhaps, one day you will share it with your own child.
That tomorrow will come, but let's talk about today, what do I want you to know on this special day?
I want you to know that I love you more than you will ever comprehend. I know it doesn't always feel that way because I'm so hard on you, but that's only because I see your potential, your greatness, your power.
I want you to know that right now, as you cross the threshold into this next phase of your life, you are only beginning to scratch the surface of how truly amazing you really are.
I want you to know that I push you because I want you to crack that surface open, dive into life and fully experience your greatness in all its forms... and my prayer is that you do so sooner rather than later... I guess I am a little impatient that way.
I want you to know I realize that this is not my journey, it is yours. And while you may add a few more twists and turns on your yellow brick road than I would like, and you may dance in the proverbial poppy fields more than I would want you to, I hope you always know this: There's no place like home and you will always be welcomed here with warm and loving arms.
I want you to know I will always be here to celebrate your joys, to hold you when life hurts more than it should. I will be here as life's many surprises unfold for you; some of these surprises you will welcome with open arms, and others you will wish never occurred. Yet, in the oddest of ways, those are the ones from which you will learn the most, the ones that will hone you into the strong, brilliant, kind and loving woman you are sure to become. And no matter what surprises life throws your way, never let anyone take that interminable joy that allows you to see beauty in every face and around every corner.
I want you to know that at the end of your journey, you will look back and you will see that you have left your beautiful mark on this place, having made it better, more special than it was before you arrived... and I pray that I am here as long as God will grant me to watch it all unfold.
You are my princess, my angel and I just love being your mom.
¡Feliz Cumpleaños Mi Hija, Que Dios Te Bendiga!
Follow Carmen Ortiz-McGhee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ortizmcghee
In the future, everyone will be famous for $15,000. WITH the emergence of a whole industry devoted to re-creating celebrity culture for anyone who can afford it, fame is a commodity like any other, although it's true that no matter how much you spend, you'll probably sacrifice your dignity as well.
Actually, $15,000 is a lowball estimate, since that would barely cover the event-space rental tab for the kind of lavish spectacles that have become prime-time fare on MTV's highly rated My Super Sweet 16. The show documents the excesses of privileged youths commemorating the mighty achievement of making it through their...
To continue reading: or Log-In
Want the full story?Subscribe Now
Get TIME the way you want it
- One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
- Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS — $2.99
- One Year ALL ACCESS — Just $30! Best Deal!
Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com
Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber
If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!