Dear Gracie Girl -

Today, in the eyes of the world, you are a full-fledged adult – able to vote, join the army, drink in most European countries, ALL the adult things. But I have decided that in my eyes you will always be my baby – my first baby that made me a Mama, all those 18 years ago.

In preparation for this day, I’ve been making lists of “things you need to know in order to adult” and lying awake in the wee hours of the morning wondering if we have taught you all you need to know before sending you out into the world. And then I realized that all of this fretting has been for nothing. You are already so prepared for anything life throws at you. And if you are not quite ready for something, I have no doubt that our smart, loving, funny and brave Gracie Girl will figure it out.

You are truly amazing, Ems. I have loved watching you grow and discover who you are and embracing your true self. I cannot wait to see where this next year, this next adventure, this next chapter in your life take you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.
All of my love ALWAYS,


P.S.  Okay because I love lists…and I will always be your Mom and need to offer some advice, some things to remember:

1. PLEASE and THANK YOU always works (and written thank you notes will ALWAYS be cool.).

2. Always brush your teeth before you leave the house (show off all your time spent in braces!)  and make sure you have clean underwear on! (You never know…)

3. Don’t have any important conversations over text or DM and for God’s sake do not air your dirty laundry over social media. If you can’t face-to-face convo, write a letter. It will give you time to think of all you want to say and also allows for time to cool down.

4. If you make a mistake, own it and apologize as quickly as possible. Nobody is perfect, we have all done something stupid or said something we know we shouldn’t have, but the more quickly you fix the situation, the more quickly everyone can move on. Which leads to forgive and forget. This one is so very hard for me and I will probably always struggle with the “forgetting” part, but if you can master this one at an early age you will live a much happier life…trust me.

5. Be Present and Grateful right where you are. Another hard one that I struggle with, but believe me when they say the “days are long but the years are short.” While you are waiting to for the next great thing, you miss out on so much in the here and now. So stop and try to really appreciate each moment.

6. Remember that change is a good thing and how we grow (again a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black over here.) I know it seems like change is a roadblock in the path, but learning to embrace the change and step out of your comfort zone will also lead to less up-in-the-middle-of-the-night worrying. (Which leads to more sleep. Which leads to a healthy, happy Em.)

7. And while you are adapting and changing, never quit learning. Read, take up hobbies…just keep learning. When you stop doing these things is when you become entrenched in the mundane, routine, day-to-day, and then you get stuck.
8. Choose who you are and how you want to live your life. Don’t let anyone else define your morals, your self worth, or how you choose to view the world. And once you have that – don’t let anyone change any of that. You are the most valuable person in your life and if you honor and respect yourself, others will too.

9. It is ok to have a different opinion. You will not always agree with your Dad and I (gasp!), your friends, your co-workers but how you approach an idea that may be different from yours is critical in having success in this world. Stop. And. Listen. Truly listen with an open mind and try that old adage “put yourself in their shoes.” You may still disagree, but it will give you a different perspective and allow you to learn. (Remember #7 up there!)

10. And most importantly – the best for last – always remember that we love you more than anything else in this world. There is nothing you can say or do that will ever change that and we are always here if any of these tips backfire if you need something or just someone to listen. I promise I won’t judge or try to offer advice unless you want it -  only love.


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