Dear Daughter,

You’re on the cusp of adulthood. I see you maturing every day, moving ever closer to that inevitable moment when your wings break forth into flight. Before that happens, I need to say a few things to you.

First, I don’t tell you often enough how proud I am of you. Not your artistic ability or your academic or other achievements, but of you.

The person you are, your integrity, your character, your true inner self. I like to think I know you and understand you better than anyone else, and I am pleased to the core of my being by the person I know. You worry about being successful in your endeavors and making something of yourself, but let me be the first to tell you that you are already something. Some day another will come along and know and love you as a spouse, and I will no longer be the one who knows and loves you best. I think I’ll be happy about that, but until then I am delighted to hold that title.

I  also look up you. You’re an awful lot like me, but an upgraded version. I wish I had your outspokenness, your edge. I see those things in you and even when it gets you into trouble, I admire that in you.

I know it makes you uncomfortable to hear it, and I doubt that you believe it, but you’re beautiful. Not in a Vogue magazine way, but in an ethereal, earthy way, which makes you far more real and approachable than the traditional stunner. And what really brings it home is the fact that you have absolutely no clue how lovely you are. You never parade around as a pinnacle of physical appearance, rather, you carry yourself with humble aplomb, with your delicate, willowy physique which is nimble and nearly perfect.

But your heart, and your spirit trump all the rest. You have a way of seeing people as they really are, and intuitively knowing how to connect with them. You notice anyone left out or behind and include them, even if it’s to your own detriment. You know how to listen to and hear people in a way that validates and supports them. You empathize and show compassion to anyone who is hurting, and hold space for people, so they never feel isolated or judged in your presence.

I can’t forget your humor. You’re funny. Sometimes in a clever, savvy way, sometimes in a quirky, awkward way, but you always make me laugh, and those laughs are some of the sweetest moments in my days.

Don’t get me wrong, darling girl, I haven’t the slightest notion to hold you back or keep you for myself. You have too much to offer for me to hog it all for my own self. The world needs you, sweet daughter. And while I cannot wait to send you off, it’s a bittersweet time. I have enjoyed every moment of being your mom, and I am certain that will continue in this new season. I even love the moments that you upset and angered me, because without those you would simply be too perfect, and nobody likes a goodie two shoes.

So fly, dear one, you’re ready, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I’ll be right here watching you go with pride and pain, comingled into a teary-eyed mess. 

With all the love this heart can hold,

Your mom

Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.