You are about to be fourteen years old. Just writing that makes me want to cry a little bit. As you know, each year I write a little something for birthdays, and I always go back to read what I’d written the year before to see what has changed since then. Last year when you turned 13, I had my friends (and your little group of other mothers) write you a little something about becoming a teenager. I love that they gave you their own little pieces of advice, and when I read what I wrote to you, it made me so happy because I think you are truly taking some of what we told you to heart.
You don’t mind being different from other kids. You aren’t afraid of being exactly who you are, and you don’t apologize for that. You wear the clothes you want (even the “mom jeans” with the high waistbands that I secretly think are awesome) and you listen to the music you like, without apology. This year there’s been a lot of Billie Eilish, and also a lot of the Beatles. Two musical sounds that couldn’t be more opposite. I love coming upstairs to hear you playing one of my old Beatles albums. It reminds me of being a teenager and discovering that music for the first time. It was like an entire universe was being opened for me at that time, through that music, and I love that you’re finding that, too. Just last weekend we were in the car, and you were putting music on a playlist for us to listen to, and as I sat next to you I thought, “Man. She is her own person now with her own tastes.” And while you might read that and say, “DUH, mom” that moment truly struck me. This is what any parent wants for her child, to grow up to be strong and have ideas of her own…and that is exactly what is happening to you.
The thing is? You choosing the clothes you wear and the stuff you like? I think kids actually want to hang out with you even MORE because of that. You are so funny. You have comedic timing that I am so proud of. That might sound weird, but the ONE thing I think human beings must have to be successful members of society is a good sense of humor. I honestly worried a little bit before I had you two that my kids wouldn’t be funny. Being funny is maybe the number one trait I look for in people I want to be friends with, and I worried that you two might not get that. Turns out, that was a completely unfounded worry, because both you and your sister are hilarious. You, however, have a knack for timing. For dropping a comment at just the right moment, and that, sweet girl, is a gift. You do weird voices and accents like you were born in those countries. I don’t know if it’s because you are also fluent in French and have been surrounded with people from other countries and cultures your whole life, but that, too, is a gift, and never fails to make me laugh.
In less than three days, you will leave with your eighth grade class to go to New Orleans for a week long service project. I’m so excited for you. And you, in true Lucy fashion, are worried sick about it. “Nervous-cited” is what you like to call it. I know that once you get on that bus, you will relax and have a wonderful time. I would like to go on this trip – you’re going to do so many cool things in a city I’ve always wanted to visit! And? You get to spend your 14th birthday in the French Quarter with your friends. How great is that? Being away from you on your birthday will be weird, but you should know that as you get older, you may spend less of your actual birthdays with your family. Birthdays can and should last for at least a week, don’t you think? We’ll more than make up for it upon your return. I am certain that this trip will change you in some way. I was 17 when I traveled to Spain with my dance group. In hindsight, there are things about that trip that I would have changed, but being away from my parents and traveling with my friends changed who I was. It boosted my confidence. It made me more independent. It made me know I could get around in this huge world. I know I was a little older, but I suspect you’ll have a similar experience.
And then? You’ll be off to high school. You have so much amazing stuff coming for you. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I’m already excited to look back in a year and see what your 14th year brought for you. New school, new friends, new teachers and experiences. I am beyond excited to see you navigate the next year of your life. And, once again, I need you to know how proud I am to be your mama. You’re a good friend, a good humanitarian who believes strongly in justice and inclusion, and you don’t act like a shitty teenager (at least not yet!), and I’m just so thankful that I get to watch you grow into this amazing person you’ve become. Happy birthday, Lu. I sure do love you.