My little girl turns 17 today. In a year, that girl that thought the little tea set with pink flowers all over it was the best thing on the planet will be 18 and out in the big world on her own. It simply doesn't seem possible.
I'll never forget her second Halloween when she dressed up like Piglet or how she always wanted to sit on the kitchen counter and watch me cook. I'll never forget going on walks and having to stop every few yards so she could squat down and watch the ants on the ground or watching tears fill her eyes when her Elmo balloon slipped off her wrist and floated away.
When she is out there on her own I will worry as every parent does. But this is a strong girl.
"It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! "My girl is no coward. She is strong. She has had some hits in her life already and they have shaped her into the beautiful person she is. But she is young and life will hit her hard many more times in years to come. And I will be there for her every single time. I will always love her, no matter what. No matter what happens. I will always be there to help her find her strength and to help her stand again when life knocks her on her backside.
She has a strength that inspires me every day. On those days that I'm trying not to let my struggle to just put one foot in front of the other show, she sees it and hooks her elbow in mine and encourages me or hugs me and tells me she loves me. And when I see she is having one of those days she sits on my bed and we talk and go to Starbucks for one of her favorite drinks.
She's special and strong and beautiful in every way. On the day she was born 17 years ago I knew I had been given a precious gift. I had no idea what an amazing and blessed experience being her mother would be.
Happy birthday Panda. I love you more than I can say.