Holy crap, what a year.
I mean, I know people say that offhandedly while reflecting on the past year, but really, this time I mean it. Not since your first year have I watched you grow in quite this way. Like your first year, you spent so much time learning about the world around you and your relationship to it. In that first year, it was about the tangibles: the movement of the ceiling fan above you and the hard feel of the ground beneath you when you fall. This year it was about the ethereal: noticing the small, beautiful pieces that make up relationships and the stir of anxiety as the world shifts.
Maia, I wonder if you can ever know what you mean to me? You have always been like a mirror to me – we can speak without saying a word. But this year, more than any other, I have watched you become YOU.
Your sense of humor is impeccable. It is inherent to you; it is at your very instinctual core. Perhaps it’s because you have a photographer’s eye – you see the world’s beauty and it’s humor all at once. It is a quiet, but sharp humor. It is one of your super-powers. Don’t hesitate to use it.
You have found music and in that, you have found your chosen family. These are your people – the ones you mother and care for and the ones who remind you who you are. Even as I always remain here for you – your touchstone – I know there will be times when they will need to be there for you in different ways. Rely on them.
Your maturity is shocking and it’s easy to forget that you are just 13 years old. This is a blessing and a curse because you know that the world is always shifting and changing and that this too will pass, but sometimes that takes you out of the moment. My wish for you is to keep that amazing perspective of timelessness, but also to stay present. Hold onto each moment without becoming cynical about the passage of time. I know that this is asking you to be more/better/smarter than I am, but this is the way of parents over history: we always want better for our children.
This year I have watched you wrestle with big questions: how do you know if a friendship is real? What does anxiety feel like? What if we lose net neutrality? I have felt frustrated that you are grappling with these sorts of questions – there have been times when I want to minimize your worry. I’m sorry for that. I know that I do this because these are questions I too think about and I want to protect you from having to do the same. I was supposed to have the answers to these questions before you asked them, but I don’t and here we are. I will work on just being with you as we work out these questions together.
Maia, you have always been quieter, more of an observer; an introvert. But this year I have seen glimpses of your inner ferocity. It comes out when you are frustrated with your sister of course, but also when you can feel an injustice at a gut level. You have an inner warrior that fights for the marginalized. Your heart aches for those who are vulnerable; those who don’t have equal access. Though this brings you pain, I know you will channel that. You give me hope for our world.
I know this rapid time of learning, growing, evolving will continue. I am grasping onto this time even as it falls through my fingers like handfuls of sand. And that’s the true kicker of parenting: even as you try to parent your child, pretending to be the expert, your child is teaching you.
Thank you Maia for your patient, gentle way of being yourself. Don’t forget how fierce you are as well. And please don’t let the pain of growing inhibit your growth. Thirteen years later, I remain in awe.