Happy Birthday Sweet 16! Now I know that you think that this is, like, the best day ever. But let me tell you about a few days that will be even better. I know, I know, hard to believe, isn't it? After all, you are 16, you've got your driver's license, you and the girls get to go to Happy Joe's Pizza in the BIG city and there will not be an adult in the car! But it does get a bit better as time goes on. You know that wild boy you are dating? The one who truly makes your heart and head spin? The ONE? Well, he's not the one. In fact, he's only the one for a couple of more years. Then sadly, he breaks your heart and yes, you break his and you both move on. That's the good part. You move on to fall in love again, and again and finally, again. That last finally, well...it was truly love that time and truly worth the others not working out. It will be several years before you find him but have faith. He is there. He will be not only the love of your life, but your very best friend (along side your other very best friend, who is in the passenger seat right now....don't fear, she's always there...). He will be the one you travel all over the world with. He will be the one who keeps you warm and the one who encourages to makes steps in directions you don't think you are even remotely interested in. He's a challenge that one. But worth every minute you'll wait for him.
There are other goodies waiting up ahead of you too. Believe it or not, you're gonna get on an airplane and travel to places far, far away. You'll get out of that little town in Iowa and believe it or not, you'll stay away. Now before you start protesting, it's okay! You're going to be the one who chooses to stay away. Not because you don't love all these people that surround you today. But because they love you. They cheer you on. They want you to go explore the world. In fact, Daddy encourages you to go figure out if you like living other places. And he'll never ask you to come back. He looks forward to your every visit and telling him the tales of your travels. Just understand that he doesn't fly and will more often than not, expect you to come home rather than he come to you. That's okay too. It gives you a chance to see those best friends.
You'll find that you can really trust yourself. You've got great instincts. I know you think that today. It'll be a few years before you believe it. You'll figure out that your gut is most often correct, whether it's the answer on your graduate school exams (yes, you do love school, even though you say you don't now...), the time you had to say goodbye to Love #2 because you knew it wasn't where you were supposed to be or when you become a mom. You've got GREAT intuition. Like you told your mom, just a few days ago. You already know what is right, you just have to have opportunities to choose what is right. And you pretty much always do.
You are going to be a mom! I know that doesn't play into your plan right now. Those birth control pills hidden under your mattress work pretty well! And it won't happen for another 15 years or so. You do a lot of searching your soul before it happens. And that's a good thing. Because that mom thing? It's the best gig you'll ever have! You will wake up many, many years from now, surrounded by two little men that absolutely adore you. Their chubby little fingers will wrap themselves around your strong hands, much like you do with your mom. Always trying to see how small they are compared to how big you are. And they'll look at you the same way you look at your mom. Like you are the universe. You are their universe! You wait a long time to become a mom. Not until Love #3, the one who truly matters. But you'll learn a lot between now and then. And you'll have that great intuition and great love. There will be days when you don't get it right. You aren't perfect. But mostly, you love and teach and guide and nurture and try harder every day. You'll get it wrong sometimes but mostly, you'll get it right.
So, even though today is going to be one of the best, there are still many bests to come. You'll have birthdays that you remember, like this one. They will be imprinted on your brain and you'll be grateful and laugh when you think about them. There will be birthdays that you don't remember. The year will go by completely uneventful and you'll not have a clue what you did that day. There will be birthdays, like that 30-year-old one, that you'll spend in a cabin with all your girlfriends (yes, even she in the passenger seat is there...), drinking wine, listening to great music and laughing so hard you'll fall over. That's a pretty good one too. And when you are 41, you'll wake up lying next to your youngest son. You'll look at his long dark eyelashes, kiss them softly and thank God for him. You'll spend a moment on the phone with Love #3 because he's not there but as always, he's thinking of you and wishes he was. You'll peek at your oldest son lying in his bed and wonder if you'll ever tire of just watching him breathe. You won't. And you'll spend the day well. You may indulge in a pedicure, you may wander around a bookstore or two because that is your favorite place still. You'll remember to thank God for all of His blessings because you know then, more than now, that He really has a Great Plan for you. By then, you'll trust Him a lot more than now. So have a good day, Me, 1984. Treasure it. Happy Birthday.