Dear Ophelia, My sweet girl. There is so much to write about. There is so much I want to ask some older version of you. Did I do alright? Did I make the right decisions? Did you feel loved enough? There's so much left to faith in this whole parenthood gig. It's difficult for someone who does not pride herself on keeping faith in much of anything.

You and I are different people. I know it's such a funny thing to be landing on this far into our relationship but there's something profound in that realization. I have always tried to respect who you are as a person. This is not always easy when the person whose opinion I'm trying to respect is sobbing hysterically because we can't listen to Christmas Carols for the sixth day in a row in the middle of October. But I do my best to remind myself that your opinion matters and my job is not to control you. So you'd think that I would be perfectly clear with the fact that we are not the same person, that I do not get to decide everything for you. But here's my confession: for a long time it  seemed like we were, if not the same person, too entwined to ever be very separate. I've told you a million times that our relationship feels like one of the longest I've ever had. That's because I always knew you would be here someday. You. Not a child, not a daughter even. I knew it was you I would one day have in my life, who I would be lucky enough to mother. So when I became pregnant and you were born, it felt incredible but not unknown. I've always felt like a mother yet to have a child and because of that my vision of you has become threaded through my whole life experience. You feel like such an integral part of me.

Needless to say this is all very self-centered (go ahead, blame my only child-ness), I know. But it is what it is. So now as you become even more of a fiercely independent girl I am forced to step back and look at all the ways in which my expectations are absurd. Some days we get in these ridiculous standoffs and I realize I have no idea why I give a damn that you aren't doing exactly what I want you to do. The result is basically inconsequential to your overall wellbeing. I'm just being a control freak.

I know this is only going to get harder. In so many ways I feel the reigns slipping from my grasp. Every time you dance around the living room singing "I'm a pretty princess!" I ask myself what the hell I did wrong. I cringe when strangers say hi to you and expect some sweetness back only to be answered with a mean stink eye. But I am not your puppet master. I am your mother. This is your life. I'm here to provide for you and guide you but not dictate where that road will lead.

I know we'll figure this out. We may not be the same person but we're on the same team.

I love you beyond measure, sweetheart.



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