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 She can handle any kid related issue tossed at her, and is a wealth of knowledge to her friends with kids.