First off, I love you.

I wasn’t there the day you were born or when you got your first tooth. I wasn’t there when you took your first steps or learned to pee in the potty.

But, I have loved you since the day we met, and I’ve been there for every moment since.

I’ve given you baths and eventually, taught you how to shower on your own. I’ve brushed your hair, clipped your nails, and taken care of you when you’re sick. I’ve tucked you into bed and kissed you goodnight, held you when you’re sad, chased away your bad dreams, and talked away your hiccups.

I’ve also told you since day one, I will never try to be your mom.

Even though I love you like my own, I know your mom will always have a bigger place in your heart than I do, and that is okay. I’ve never tried, nor will I ever try to make you choose. I know how much you love her, and I’ll never try to take her place.

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When I get on to you for doing something careless or push you harder in school or get mad at you for doing something you know you shouldn’t, it’s because I want to see you succeed. I want to see you do all the things I know you are capable of. I wish you could see yourself the way I do. Your heart’s too big and too good for you to follow the wrong path. You deserve bigger and better.

I want you to be safe and try your hardest all the time. I want you to make better decisions than your parents did, and that includes me, because I know I’m not perfect. I will never give you complete freedom because that is not love. It is my job to guide you into being a lady with class, self-respect, self-love, and independence. None of which you have learned yet. I want you to make your own choices, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

We will always butt heads on certain topics, like what’s appropriate and what’s not.

That’s because it’s not a parent’s job to be a fun friend, it’s our job to teach you. I want you to be treated with respect and respect yourself. That starts now, with the way you look and the way you dress . . . then it’s based on how you behave.

The things you have issues with or get mad about, I didn’t even think about until I was in high school. Growing up too fast leads to making big, big mistakes. I’m only trying to protect you from that. It all boils down to one very simple question . . . who do you want to be?

We all have to choose how to play the cards we are given. I’m not better than your mom, I just made different choices in life than she did. And that’s okay. But, please, trust me when I tell you, every single decision you make matters. One choice can change your whole life.

So, when you grow up, who do you want to be like? What do you want your life to look like? How will your education path look? Do you want to go to college and/or your own house? Will you be okay with being single? Will you want to enjoy freedom with your friends and traveling? Or do you want to be at home raising kids in your late teens and 20s? What do you picture your husband being like? How will he treat you?

All of these things will be based on the choices you are making right now.

I will love you for the rest of my life, and I am here to stay. I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you. I’ll never stop loving you and having your back. I’ll never forget the memories we have made, and I will continue to cherish every moment. I’ll always be here for you on your worst day, and my shoulder is always yours to cry on. I’ll always show up and support you. And you better believe I will protect you in every way I can as long as you allow and trust me to do so. Be assured, I have your best interest at heart. 

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Without exception, I will be proud of you and thankful for you.

You changed my life way before I had a child of my own, your baby brother. You’ve taken a spot no one else can ever fill. You may choose to hate me one day. I just hope you also eventually realize and understand that I’ve only done what’s best for you. I’ve even gone as far as to try and be friends with your mom, despite everything.

I’ve given it all I’ve got because I believe God brought you into my life for a reason.

The same way I see my own stepdad now. I know he genuinely loves me and always wanted what was best for me. Even when I irritated him probably more than he irritated me. He gave me all the love he was capable of giving. He taught me so much, and because of him, I knew what I wanted and deserved in life. I didn’t settle for less.

The last thing I want you to know is that you are an incredible, smart, beautiful, and special girl. You are sensitive and generous beyond measure. Don’t sell yourself short or settle for less just because it seems fun or cool at the time. I truly love you more than you can fathom. I love you like you are my own even though you never will be. 

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Lorin Hawks

I am always searching and frequently confused. I seek to find the good inside of every person I encounter. Endlessly in deep thought, collecting stories, and trying to figure people out. Step-mom to two beautiful girls, and mommy to one precious baby boy.

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