My beloved Stella, 

I vividly recall myself at your age. Life was much different for me. Trauma and instability were a constant. Adults were not safe or to be trusted to protect me. Or put my safety and emotional wellbeing above their own needs and addictions. My existence was often a burden. To be heard and validated was rare. My relationships were built on co-dependency. Something that would not be clear many years later. A lack of self-worth was a magnet for dysfunction, risk, and harm. Experiences I deeply want to protect you from are ones that are out of my control. 

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The combination of these three words are a statement that both defines and describes a pivotal time. There is promising wonder ahead. So much unknown tangled with endless possibilities. A tipping point into the future. As well as both feet firmly planted in adolescence. No long straddling childhood, crossing a point of no return. Thirteen years old describes the inevitable challenges the next five or six years will bring. Adulthood is both far away and right around the corner. 

  • Dating
  • Exploring intimacy
  • Driving
  • College applications
  • Formal dances 
  • Heartache 
  • Independence 

Childhood is something to look back on now. Memories of who you were to explain who you’ve become. Decisions begin to have a lasting impact or implication. Autonomy is a little closer in reach. Dreams of the life you want to create become clearer. The dream of being a rock star, chef, train engineer, ballet dancer has faded. Aspirations are less fantastical, reflecting life experiences and maturity. Whimsical conversations, dress-up, and imaginary play are not a part of your daily life anymore. 

Serious discussion of current affairs, social injustice, and history dominate the dining room table now. A tone of ownership of opinions and perceptions are taking shape. Dissent happens more articulately, at times defiantly, and reasoned. The more pushback demonstrating critical thinking deepens respect and admiration. With some temporary irritation by your parents.  

If I could magically instill one thing in you it would be a deep sense of self-worth. That served as your internal compass. Unwavering, without compromise. Knowing your intrinsic value, no matter the circumstances will be your greatest strength. 

Our Magic 8 Ball cannot reveal what lies ahead for any of us. What we do have is our character. My birthday wish for you is for you to nurture an unshakeable trust with your character and self-worth. It’s the greatest gift we could hope for.