This is a huge birthday for you, I'm sure! 21!!!
It seems like just yesterday I was meeting you for the first time when you were 7, when your dad brought you over to meet me. I remember your quiet shyness, and your reservation. Your eyes seemed so much older than those of a 7 year old, and I felt like you could see right through me, which you probably could. You have always had a kind and gentle soul, and I know there were many times where I hurt you and never realized it. Yet you never complained or said anything mean or hurtful to me, even though most teens can and do. I couldn't have handpicked a more lovely and sweet stepdaughter.
You have been a joy to have in our family. You are so much fun, and you have a talent for making people around you feel good about themselves. You have a real gift for helping others, and for being there for people when they need you. You are one of the most dependable people I know. And I'm willing to pay big for your secret talent of picking out perfect gifts for people. You are the best gift-giver EVER!
I have felt that you are more my own daughter than my stepdaughter. You are someone I admire so much. I wish I were more like you in so many ways: patient, non-judgemental, loving, kind, beautiful, graceful, punctual, and dependable.
I remember last year, when you and the kids sat down at the kitchen table where I was sitting, and you said, "We've decided where we want to go on vacation this year."
"Really? Cool! Where we goin'?"
"Yellowstone Park. Only...ummm...we want to go...without the parents."
I remember trying hard to keep my face from showing any surprise. After the first few seconds of trying to decide if I should be hurt or not, I realized something important: Here was a 20 year old woman who was willing and excited to use up her valuable paid vacation taking her little brother and sister on a vacation to Yellowstone. You don't know how much love I felt for you when I saw your three little heads crammed in front of the computer, excitedly planning the trip and places you wanted to see together. I wanted to cry seeing such sweetness. The kids still talk about how much fun they had with you, and it's priceless to me, knowing I had a hand in raising such a great woman. What a lucky, lucky mom I am.
I remember the year that you took a new recipe box and wrote all over it in black marker "Happy Mother's Day" ~ You took all my recipes, and sorted them alphabetically. It made for some interesting searches: if a recipe was labeled "Best Ever Chocolate Cake" it would be found in the "B" section, not "C." But I'll never change it, because it reminds me of the sweet labor of love that gift was.
I want you to be a woman who trusts herself and the decisions you make for yourself. You are so great! I worry that you don't recognize your own self-worth. You are so awesome! I love you more than you will ever know. I hope that I will be good at showing you my unconditional love and support for the rest of my life. You are a perfect example to me of how to do that better.
You are beautiful, inside and out, and I couldn't love you more if I were your real mom.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.