To my rule follower,

I know I don’t tell you enough what a good kid you are.

As both the oldest and the rule follower, you seem to always fall victim to the attention I have to give your younger siblings who are still in the young “testing-the-waters” age when it comes to rules.

While I try to keep your little sister from throwing her dinner on the floor, you quietly eat your entire meal before putting your dishes in the sink.

While I am trying to calm your little brother’s tantrum and get him in bed, you read silently in yours having already put your pajamas on and brushed your teeth.

While I am trying to wrangle a child who doesn’t want to get into her car seat, you sit patiently in the back already strapped into your booster.

While the little ones are arguing over a toy, you are trying to be the peacemaker as you kindly suggest they each take turns.

So often you are doing what I have always asked of you.

Being a good listener. Having patience. Choosing kindness. Using your manners. Being helpful around the house.

And I know sometimes it gets overlooked as I spend more time trying to put fires out, and not enough time watering your beautiful spirit to keep it growing.

I don’t mean for it to be this way . . . but recently I’ve recognized it is.

So today (and every day), I want you to know I see you, too.

I see you with the kind of empathy in your heart that could only be God-given.
I see you with your fierce desire to bring happiness into our home and to the people around you.
I see you with your kindness as you always ask me if you can help with the dishes or the vacuum.
I see you with your respect and the way you give it to your family, your teachers and your friends.

I see you being you.

And I hope you see me being me.

Which is someone who remembers being a kid like you . . . one who followed the rules and sometimes felt like that made me blend in.

But today, I’m a parent who never wants you to feel like you’re not seen—but wants to make sure you see how much your goodness makes you stand out and SHINE.

I’m a parent who is proud of your big heart in a way that I will never be able to describe—and know I’m not always perfect at showing that to you. But I’m vowing to do a better job. 

Because I’m a parent who never wants you to lose your inherent desire to DO good—and a parent who will love you through the days that you get to those lines that you’ll inevitably choose to toe.

But most importantly . . . 

I want you to know that I’m a parent who is SO proud to get to be yours. 

And one who will make it her life’s mission to help you always hang on to your goodness . . . by celebrating it every chance I can.

I love you,

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Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, speaker and photographer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. Through her work, she aims to empower people to overcome their fears and insecurities and live their truth. She and her husband raise their three children in Pittsburgh, PA.