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16 August 2007


Emma_and_momToday is Emma's birthday, her 15th, and my birthday, too. Born on my 33rd birthday, she is the absolute best birthday gift I could ever imagine in my entire and total lifetime. The second best, of course, would be a visit by Johnny Depp on the big day, or a wood opal ring from Spirit of the Earth in Santa Fe, or a lifetime supply of Fage yogurt or one of those cute new VW bugs with a convertible roof or a teal Vespa or a phone call from Billy Collins or a new pair of orange bifocals, but aside from those few things, I don't really need anything else ever in my life now that I have these two girls and this Mr Brilliant. Truly. I mean it with all my heart. They are all my heart.

Turning 15. Is there a more confusing age? Hormones? Algebra II? Marching band carrying a 400-pound sousaphone? Honors Biology? I'm proud of all you are, Emma, and all you will become. Unconditional love is a tricky wicket, it turns out, because sometimes the conditions keep you safe and alive and warm and so they are tempting. More than anything else, I want you to know that whatever you do or become or are, I want the best for you--and that means your best, not my idea of best. What my job entails, as I see it, is a laying out of big and broad options, enlarging your horizons and perspective to see beyond, and then stepping back as you choose and change and choose again.

I remember once when you were little--maybe three or four. Two girls were spending the summer with their grandmother across the street and you loved playing with them on their long-stringed tree swing. One day, I walked past your room and you were up on a step stool, looking out your window at them playing on the swing with another neighbor girl, not you. You were crying--they hadn't included you.

I wanted so badly to make it nice for you, to solve it, to fix it. Instead, we talked about what friendship is and how it lasts across time, even if you're not playing together right now.

Or when we moved here and you had Atilla the Hun's mother as your fifth grade teacher. Everyone said I should demand that the school move you to another classroom. I wanted so badly to make it nice for you, to solve it, to fix it. But, instead, I helped you navigate it and learn from it. I was your sturdy advocate that year, traipsing into the classroom to inquire sweetly but pointedly about why on earth she tore up the picture you drew of Martin Luther King on your report of his life. She had torn it while telling you that she didn't ask for a drawing. And I can tell you now what I couldn't tell you then: It was oh so very hard not to end my parent-teacher conferences with her by gouging her eyes out with a #2 pencil.

But life is for the living, and the silt that falls on us makes us, forms us, polishes us, and I will always, always, always be here to catch you if you fall. Always. No matter what. I mean it.

Happy birthday, Emma, with your funky Converse tennis shoes that you redesigned, and your pink hair that I not-so-secretly want to have myself, and your offbeat sense of humor and your deep, deep wisdom. I love you more than I imagined was possible in this world. Like, so totally heart-exploding awesome big. You.


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Happy Birthday wishes to Emma and her Mom.

Happy birthday to you both -- it is wonderful that you share a birthday! Patti, this is a letter that all mothers should write to their daughters. I'm going to send it to mine.

Happy Birthday to you two.

My younger brother was born on my mother's birthday (Nov. 11th) while my younger sister was also born on the 11th (Aug.)and mine is July 11th.

Happy birthday to both of you incredible ladies. Patti, you should definitly go for the pink highlights, too - or maybe purple.
Have a wonderful day together!


Deanna and Andy say "Emma's hair looks GREAT!!!" Deanna wants her hair done like that. Andy just wants more hair. Oh, and happy bidets.

With this kind of love and support behind her this child can be anything, all of it wonderful and rich and awesome. Happy Birthday to you both. Celebrate well.

Happy and wonderful birthday wishes to both of you!

It is always a beautiful gift when a mom or a dad pulls back the curtain of parenting to allow a child to see what is at work in "the one" who is both so familiar and so mysterious.

If Emma has not read this post, some day she will. And then she will have words for what she already knew.

And, tucked away in this mother's reflection was a phrase 'my" mother used often in her last years and days, "life is for the living". Those words shook me when I read them.

Life is letting the living much we love love them even in the midst of the polishing.

That certainly makes "the living" all the better.

Keep creating,

well, here i sit crying again, the second time today and i have you to thank. really, it is a good thing, i think. my daughter hailey has had a big year-- high school graduation, turning 19, and now getting ready to leave for college. it is also a big year for her mom. the last four years have flown by, even faster than the ones before. all i can say to you is treasure every moment, and i'm pretty sure you already do that. belated best wishes for your shared birthday!
(i loved the bidet comment above)

Sorry I'm late to the party--Happy Belated Birthday to you both. What a fabulous, fabulous post, Patti! And 15...I'm surrounded by 15-year-olds every day at work...and wouldn't want to be that age again for anything. They have a LOT to deal with at that age these days. I wish Emma all the best.

P.S. Emma: Loan some of that pink dye to your Mom.

Happy Belated Birthday to Emma and a "cha cha cha"! Patti, you have already received your cha cha cha, and I wish you many more!

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