Tomorrow you will turn 11 years old. It really seems like only yesterday I held you in my arms and sang you lullabies, that I watched you fall asleep with one pacifier in your mouth while you'd rub the other one on your perfect little nose, or that we watched Mickey's Christmas Sing-a-long Songs EVERYDAY for the month of August.
You have always been such a ray of sunshine to our family. I sometimes call you our glue stick because you usually seem to keep a level head and that encouraging "it will be OK" attitude. You make us laugh, you make us smile and you give us so much hope.
You are growing up so gracefully, you make Daddy and I so proud.
As you enter your 11th year I wanted to give you some of my best mommy advice. No, I don't know everything, no one does. These are just some lessons I've learned over the years. Some took me longer to learn than others. And I am still learning, a little bit more every day. So here you go baby.
Somewhere along the way you will worry if you are OK. You probably already do sometimes. The answer to that is always YES! God makes every baby just how he thinks they should be, and expects them to grow in to who they really are. He doesn't want you to be a version of anyone else. Some people will make you think that if you aren’t, you aren't good enough. You are! Be true to yourself and be who you are with confidence. God made you, YOU and that is exactly who you should be.
Remember that everyone is meant to be different. Every girl and every lady is made different. Some are taller and thinner and some aren’t. Every person is built different and that is what makes us beautiful. Don't ever feel like you need to fit into some mold of what beautiful is. Those girls you see in catalogs and the women you see in magazines, they aren't real. Beautiful isn't super skinny with big boobs and a perky behind. It is whoever you are. Real is beautiful. You are beautiful, don't every forget that and don't ever let anyone tell you different. You are perfect just as God made you.
My Grandmother, who was stunningly beautiful, always told me "Pretty is as pretty does" Pretty shows through from the inside. Sometimes you will get caught up in a group of friends being mean and catty towards others. Don't lower yourself down there, baby. Give everyone a chance. Not everyone needs to be your friend, but everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. Be kind to people baby, even when they don't deserve it. Because people who don't deserve it, probably need our kindness the most.
Never, ever think that you can change someone else or that it your job to save them. People deserve our kindness and our understanding. What they do with that is entirely up to them. You can’t make them be any different than who they are or save them from themselves.
As you get older, people you know, maybe even your closest friends may change. They might start trying drugs or alcohol, or fooling around with boys. I want you to always be strong enough to do what you know in your heart is right. All that grown up stuff can wait baby. Don't throw your life away to fit in. Don't change who you are so people will like you and don't ever let someone talk you in to doing something you know is wrong. You might think everyone is, so.. you may as well too, that is so not true baby. There are other kids out there who have your values, look for them. They will love you for who you are. If people bully you or put you down to make you do something, they don't deserve your friendship. Stand up for who you are and what you know is right.
BOYS.... this is a biggie Shortcake. You have such a bright future ahead of you. Don't waste your time with boyfriend girlfriend stuff. It takes away from all the wonderful things about being a kid. Why spend your time or your emotion on a silly boy whose name you won't remember and who you will probably eye roll at the thought of later in life. You have the rest of your life to have boyfriends. Wait until you are sure about who you are, where you are going and what you want for yourself before you decide a boy is worth being a part of your life. The happiest girls and the most confident women are the ones who wait. Don't be in too big a hurry to grow up.
Things always look better in the morning. Getting dressed always makes you feel better and hugs can make hurt fade. Forgiveness can make your life lighter and if you look at things with n open heart, even bad things can become blessings. Take everything life gives you with gratitude, you never know when you have been given a blessing in disguise. Laugh, a lot, it is one of the best life survival tools I know.
Happiness is a choice. YOU chose to be happy or not. No one else can make you happy and sadly sometimes people will hurt you. Don't let that hurt or disappointment define you baby. Write your own life story. Decide how you want your story to go. Smile and act how you want to feel.
You aren't, nor will you ever be perfect. I'm not trying to be mean, it is just true. Perfection is so over rated. It is exhausting. You can waste so much energy on being perfect when you could just decide to be happy. Don't try to be perfect and never expect to be perfect. That is just setting yourself up to fail. Do your best, work hard, believe in yourself, learn from your mistakes and never stop working to become a better person. Forget perfect, be real, it makes life so much sweeter.
Life will get messy sometimes baby. Know that you are stronger and braver than you think you are and believe that you can handle anything. If life knocks you down, get back up again. If you don't think you can, come find me, I will carry you until you find your courage.
It is our job (Daddy and I) to help you become the amazing woman you are destined to be. We never say no because we hate you and want you miserable it is because we love you more than you can imagine a person can love. Our goal is to make you a happy, confident, successful adult, so our choices for you will be what we feel will get you to that person. Even if it seems overprotective or mean to you at the time. We always, always, always have your best interest at heart.
Above all remember that we love you, and we are so very proud of you, always. If you do mess up (and you will, everyone does) we are always here to help you. Sometimes mistakes can get bigger if we don't take care of them and other times we find ourselves with problems too big to handle alone. We will never stop loving you and together we can handle anything.
Daddy and I appreciate you more than you will ever know. We both thank God every day that he chose us to look after this beautiful gift. You are a very special little girl Madeline Maxine Johnson. You have spunk, you have the drive to push yourself to do great things, you have a silly heart that brightens the world around you and a kind soul, that gives others hope.
Happy birthday my sweet, little Shortcake, you have made the last 11 years of my life so beautiful and I am looking forward to getting to know the big girl you become.
All my love~ Mom