Hello, Fourteen. It’s nice to meet you, though I must say I’m still occasionally baffled that you’re here. It’s hard to believe that my little cabbage patch baby is Fourteen! But here we are.

Thirteen brought challenges of its own. I knew to expect some of them. Others we’re still working on trying to figure out. But that’s okay, because we’ll do it together, the three of us.

In some ways you’ve changed a lot this year, but in others, the changes are smaller, more subtle. You’re processing things on different levels (when you decide it’s worth the work), and it’s fascinating to hear how your brain works.

Thirteen saw you struggling a lot more with feelings that we all have from time to time, from feeling alone in the world or feeling like you don’t fit. It’s normal, as frustrating as that sentiment is, because I know it doesn’t really help address the issues you feel. Sometimes, though, the knowing that you’re *not* the only one who feels a certain way can be a stronger balm than actually figuring out how to change the feeling. I’d love to tell you that these awkward feelings are the realm of your teenage years, but the truth is that you’ll likely visit them many times in your life. It’s hard, but it’s okay, because there will always be people who can tell you that no matter how you feel, you’re amazing the way you are.

That’s what I want you to learn this year: that you’re amazing. Even if there are things you need to work on, you’re still amazing. Life is a journey of self-improvement; there will always be room for change, but that room for change doesn’t make you any less amazing. It really just doesn’t.

You’re becoming more of your own person which is an interesting journey. You’ve made some choices with that autonomy that I’d have preferred you hadn’t, but even so, it’s kind of interesting to see the person you’re trying to become. We’ll work on the rough edges, Fourteen, and we’ll explore your autonomy while reminding you that you still have plenty of time to be a kid. That’s okay, too.

You bring me a lot of joy. If there is one thing I could hammer into your head, it would be that. I know the last year that might have been harder to tell, but that’s not through any fault of you. Mommy’s had a rough year. (And you have no idea how happy it makes me that I’m still “Mommy”. No idea.) I’m afraid you’ll look back and see how often Mommy couldn’t leave the bedroom or couldn’t go to this thing or inadvertently made everyone miss that thing and you might be angry. I could understand that; truly, I could. My comfort, though, is knowing that your Mum, your Rin, has been there right beside you the whole way, picking up the pieces that I just wasn’t able to hold.

In a meeting with your therapist, he told me that part of the job of a good mom is making certain that her kid is well taken care, whether it means leaning on her partner for help, asking for help, or stuff like that. I argued with him for a good give minutes because everything I believed about parenting said that I should be able to do everything, no matter how hard it is, so it meant I was failing. Between Tom and Rin, they finally got me to stop and listen – really listen that is. It’s taken me a few months, but I think I finally *get* it.

The truth is that you *are* well taken care of. You are well loved. Rin does an amazing job with you, often better than I ever imagined I could and that makes me happy. I’d be lost without her. She’s helping to raise you into an awesome person, & that makes me so damn happy.

I have no idea what you’re going to bring to the party, Fourteen, but I know I’ll meet it with the same sense of wonder (and mild trepidation) that I’ve met each year, along with a slightly bittersweet sense of sadness that you’re growing up in front of my eyes. You’re a beautiful, intelligent, awesome person, Fourteen, and I’m going to spend the next year helping you learn that for yourself.