Monday, July 8, 2013

A letter to my daughters on their 2nd birthday {Dear Daughter Series}

This is the first letter in my series to celebrate the girls' 2nd birthday. I'll be featuring some wonderful and talented mother-writers that you won't want to miss. There will be two each week, every Monday and Thursday throughout the month of July. And at the middle-end of this month, link up to your own Dear Daughter letter! Details are here.

Dear Ruthie & Afton,

Happy second birthday! How cute you were today eating your very first ice cream cones, without having to share with mama or dada or each other. You both inhaled the creamy sweet goodness.

Oh, I'm so glad you're summer babies. But enough about you dear cuties.

I'm a summer baby, too. When you're very little, most everyone is around to celebrate, but you're too little to remember. When you get older and hit elementary school, it's a blast to have pool parties, picnics in the park, or a day at the lake. But then, families tend to plan trips in August and so your guest list will be hit or miss. But even still, summer birthdays are the best and I have so many wonderful memories.

One year around 5th or 6th grade, we had a garden party planned out of an American Girl magazine. My later elementary years were shaped by that magazine. We couldn't afford to buy a Kirsten doll, but we could afford a yearly subscription for $10! Don't worry - I still have these magazines stored in a box somewhere, ready to show you as soon as you can read.

This particular issue was full of creative party ideas, and being that my room was decorated in sunflowers (bedding, wallpaper, decor...ALL sunflowers), the garden party was a perfect fit. We decorated the backyard of our East Main house, with its small doughboy pool and cement patio, and if I remember right, that year most of my friends were in town and were able to come celebrate with me.

I don't remember it all, but I do remember mom (your grammy) making me a chocolate cake with crushed oreo ice cream and gummy worms strewn throughout. It was my very first "dirt" cake and it was so delicious. I think that was also the birthday I got my very first phone, which I promptly decorated with glittery Lisa Frank stickers. That phone lasted me for years, and I still remember calling my best friends on that phone and feeling like such a grown up. Now, of course, cell phones have ruined the magic of the first phone. It's just not the same, and I'm a little sad that you won't experience it the way I did.

Later on in high school, I spent a few of my birthdays out at Lake of the Woods at summer camp. I went right through the ranks over the course of my later teenage years, first camp attendee, then camp counselor, then lifeguard. Some of my favorite memories of summer are out at that lake, getting up at the crack of dawn to go water skiing or wakeboarding while the water was at its glassiest, then jumping out of the boat in time to run in for morning devotions and breakfast with the other campers in the big lodge dining room. The whole family drove up one year to surprise me with a little floral-frosted birthday cake and a purple sweater from American Eagle that I wore until it was stretched and threadbare. The smells of the dining hall, pine trees and mossy lake water clung to my skin and hair all summer and in my mind, those memories will always exist in a golden light. If I close my eyes, I can smell it now. 

A few years later, I spent my 21st birthday in Santa Cruz on the boardwalk. I had just returned from living in England with Aunt Susan, Uncle Gary, and Allie, where I had an unforgettable experience. But back in the States, I was directionless. I didn't know where to turn next. I had dropped out of college (some call it "taking a break"), didn't have a job, and had broken up with my high school boyfriend of almost five years. It was a heartrending time, but your Grammy's sisters and my cousins made the best of it by all taking a trip to the beach together.

One of the funniest memories I have about that trip was being crammed in the back of a rental car looking for a place to eat, and aunt Janice read a sign and said, 'What's a Fall-ah-Fall?'" Outside the open-windowed car was a cycler, and he looked into our car with disgust and said, "It's Falafel," then road away. We died laughing. Aunt Janice also tried to procure some shots of liquor for me, but she could only come up with some Mike's Hard Lemonade, which we drank in the hotel, and which I learned the sugar content alone will buzz you, not the alcohol. So the balm of family turned a hard birthday into hilarious memories that I'll remember forever and got me through that summer. A month later, I met your Daddy.

So for you, little daughters, I'll always have a special place in my heart for your summer birthday and do my best to make it memorable. I may not be a very good party planner, but I am a good adventure planner, and with the sun on our faces, we'll celebrate the miracle of your lives and make some memories that will carry you through the hard years, when work and school and loss and the responsibilities of adult life and can diminish the importance of celebrating together - if you let it.

All my love,

Your Mama


  1. Beautiful! So excited for all the letters in this series :)

  2. I love this and I'm sure your girls will too someday.

  3. How special. I can see the memories, so I know they will be able to, too! Beautiful writing.

    Did you get all moved? We did...!! I can't believe it but we did. :)

    1. We did get all moved! Well, ALL is a relative term :) It takes so long to settle, as I'm sure you well know. But it feels good to be home.


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