Shop the fall collection ➔

How can it be possible that sixteen years have passed since the first time I held you in my arms? I waited my whole life for you to be born. I remember every detail about your birth, and often replay that day in my head – wishing I could go back and relive it one more time. You were my first-born; the one who made my dream of becoming a mom a reality. You have created a love inside of me so fierce, so unbreakable, so unending, and so unconditional. I am incredibly lucky to have been chosen to be your mom. I really must have done something right in life to have been given a child like you.

You have grown into an amazing young woman. You are that girl that I always wished I could be. You are beautiful, confident, smart, and well-liked by everyone. You shine in everything you do. Your siblings all look up to you, as well as their friends and the kids you baby-sit.

Please know how incredibly proud I am of you. I know I have been hard on you at times. I set high expectations that you sometimes feel are impossible to reach. Let me reassure you that you have never ever disappointed me. I set those expectations because I want you to achieve everything you have ever wanted. I want all of your greatest dreams to come true. I never want you to feel undeserving of anything, because you deserve the absolute best that life has to offer.

I want you to keep that confidence you have now, and continue to try new things; to meet new people. You never know what door will open if you just put yourself out there. You will make mistakes, but it’s okay because that’s how you learn lessons and become a better person. I’ve certainly made my share of them, and still make them today. Those mistakes create the path to the amazing life I have today.

To be honest, you have probably taught me more than I think I’ve taught you. You’ve taught me patience. I’ve learned that screaming at each other often accomplishes nothing except pain. Listening and biting my tongue are much more effective. I’ll probably still get upset and frustrated with you. I’ll probably still lecture you simply because I am your mom and that’s what we do. I’ve learned from you to not sweat the small things. You rarely get involved in any gossip, and never really care what people think of you. You choose to see the good in people, and stand up for others even when you are standing alone. Following your examples, my life has become much more fulfilling.

It amazes me how people are drawn to you. I can send you to a camp half way across the country, knowing nobody, and you come home with a dozen new best friends. I admire your quiet strength in the way you accept the unfair things that happen to you. You keep moving forward, never letting them drag you down.

I hope your birthday is everything you dreamed it could be. Remember how loved you are. You are my sweet baby, your daddy’s little girl, your sisters’ greatest idol, and your brother’s best friend. We will all always be here for you – your biggest fans.

Your story is just beginning. I can’t wait to watch you write it.

Tabitha Steffes

Tabitha Steffes is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin. She is a mother to five, and a wife to a hard-working farmer. Her days are filled with love, chaos, and too much Diet Coke. Most mornings you can find her up hours before her family; writing, cleaning, or going on long walks. She believes you have to find time for yourself wherever you can. She loves finding ways to simplify her life, saving her family money, and finding joy in every day things on her blog http://simplysavingmommy.com/ She can handle any kid related issue tossed at her, and is a wealth of knowledge to her friends with kids.

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading

They Love Each Other (and Sometimes They Don’t)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler girl lying with big brother, color photo

When I was pregnant with his baby sister, Forest kissed my belly and talked about all the wonderful things he would do with this little girl he already loved so much. His plans changed, however, after she was born, and the thing he wanted to do the most with her was place her gently in the trash can. Some mornings he would kiss her softly, other mornings he would walk into the room where I’d be nursing her and say, “Her doesn’t look precious to ME.” Two and a half years later, Forest’s feelings toward Grace remain about the same....

Keep Reading

As a Mother, I Matter Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in living room

“What’s more important than me, Mammy?” my daughter asked. I looked at her, and she was looking at me. Her question wasn’t harsh or accusatory, it was curious. She was curious. We were in the kitchen, I was at the table working, and she asked me to help her find something. I told her I was finishing up some important work and then I would play with her. This is when she asked me what was more important than her. I bit my tongue to stop the words that wanted to rush out of my mouth. I wanted to proclaim...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading