My dear, sweet Ashlynne,
Eighteen. Legally an adult. Always my baby.
I feel like my days of guiding you are limited. I hope I am wrong. I hope you always want your mom's advice. But just in case, there are some things that are really important in life. A few things I need to say. Some things I wish I would have known. Some things that really matter. Here they are:
*Put God first. He will never steer you wrong. When you have that gut feeling that you think you should follow, that's Him. Just listen. And when you think He isn't there, He is. Have faith.
*Don't chase them. Boys, friends, family members, anyone. Don't chase them. For if they are worth chasing, you won't have to chase them. What you will have to do is put in effort. Relationships of all kinds take effort from both sides, but not all the effort from one side. If they slip through your fingers, but are meant to have a permanent place in your life, they will come back. And they will appreciate you even more than before.
*Be teachable. If you know a million things, you can still learn from the person that only knows one thing. Believe it or not, we aren't always right. Be prepared to listen, and hear people out. Knowledge is more than booksmarts. And once you leave the realm of high school, this becomes more apparent. Lessons are to be learned in everything.
*Don't take yourself too seriously. If you don't laugh at yourself, they will laugh at you. You might as well beat them to the punch.
*Not everyone will like you. And that's ok. Because you won't like everyone. Find your tribe, love them hard. It is literally impossible to be friends with everyone. It is quality over quantity. I would rather have a few really good friends, than a lot of people around me that I can't form a deep connection with.
One of the best scenarios in life, I heard recently from a good friend. I will try to do the comparison justice as I retell it. As we sat on the porch one night she said to me: Life is like a tree. You are the trunk. Some people in your life are the branches. These are the people that stay. These are the monumental people in your life that have the most impact, and will never leave you until the day they die. Other people, they are like leaves. When a big gust of wind comes along, or the seasons change, they are gone. They are the friends and relationships that are there for a little bit, maybe when things are good, and fun, but when a storm, or winter comes along, they shed themselves. But those branches, they stay. They are still there next year, even when the new leaves come. You see, trees shed their leaves, and that's part of life, most branches stay intact for a really long time. but some of those branches, they are there for life. Those branches are the ones you prune, and the ones you take care of, those are the ones that really make the tree beautiful.
*Call your mom. When you're sad. When you're happy. When you have exciting news. When you are bored. Call your mom. I will never tire of hearing your voice.
You, my love, are one of the things I am most proud of in this life. If I have done anything worthwhile in this, being a mom is at the top of that list. You are funny, and witty, and kind. You love animals, and the elderly, and your family. You love Pearl Jam. The rest of your music taste could use some tweaking, but we have time to work on that. But most importantly, you are STRONG. You are a fighter. I was just telling the story tonight of when you took your first steps. Two and half years old, he picked you up out of my arms, and set you in the middle of the room, and told me not to run to you. And you walked to me. For the first time. Crying, and scared, but you made it. You made it across that room to the one place you felt safe. I will always be your safe place. You can always come to me. No judgements, no I told you so's. Only love, acceptance, and safety. Believe it or not, I am still growing with you. I still feel you. I still hurt when you hurt. That didn't stop the day you were born, it had only just begun.
I love you. Happy birthday young lady.