Today you turn 12. As, I write this, I feel so many emotions: joy, pride, amusement, nostalgia (it’s almost like I’m 12 again…so many emotions in one person at the same time. Ha!) I think that’s how I can sum up “12” best – so many emotions in one person at the same time.
I’ll start with the joy. You like yourself. A lot. You understand yourself – more than I did at 12. You enjoy being introverted. That makes me very happy because truly liking yourself will save you so much heartache. Don’t get me wrong – you can throw some serious attitude with the best of them and there do exist periodic outbursts of random tears, but for the most part you’re not angsty or dramatic. For that, I shout “hallelujah.”
As for the pride I feel, you are doing the things you love to do and excelling at them. And it’s not for the awards and the accolades (although those exist), it’s for the sheer love of what you do. I remember at your age, I would intentionally excel at things simply because my mom said it would make her proud. You don’t do that. You do what you do because you want to. I’m not proud of what you do. I’m proud of who you are.
And yes, your sense of humor makes me laugh. It’s quirky and nerdy and subtle and self-deprecating – all of my favorite humor elements. You like to make me laugh. You know exactly what will make me laugh. And that makes me feel special.
Nostalgia is complicated and bittersweet. I went through the birthday letters I’ve written you over the years. The reading of my words brought back wonderful memories and some tough ones, too. I read things I love about you. And I read things I hate about myself.
Nostalgia reminds me that we are barreling through time at an alarming rate and there’s not a thing I can do to stop it. This year, you’re 12. I vividly remember turning 12 even though I’m turning 40 this year. People keep telling me that 40 is just a number – that I’m still young. What I’m struggling with about turning 40 is this whole nostalgia thing and how it slams my face into the reality of how quickly this life passes us by. I think about when my mom turned 40 and how she had no idea that was the beginning of the last decade of her life. Did I relish every moment of that decade?
A decade sounds like a long time to you, I’m sure. Your entire life is just a couple years more than a decade, so of course a decade is long - it's a lifetime. And it’s just under a decade that my mom's been gone. She never got to see what a remarkable young lady you’ve become. And you barely remember her and only base your memories on stories we’ve told you. That’s the bitter part of nostalgia.
I want more than anything to create the sweet parts of nostalgia with you. I want to relish our time together before life sweeps you up in the complex and glorious chaos of being a teenager. And I know we will enjoy that time as well despite what the haters claim.
You’re a remarkable person, Bean. Never forget that.
You and your annual straight hair that will probably be curly again by the end of the school day.