This is you. Yes, this is still how I see you. To me, you are still a mushy little ball of baby, one who depends on me, needs me, and loves me (probably more than anyone else). One who enjoys snuggling into my chest each morning. You always have time to talk to me, and would rather hang out with me than anyone else in the world. And somehow I picture you now, at 17, a strong willed, independent, little lady. One who probably listens to music I hate, and wears shorts way too short for Daddy's comfort. You are too beautiful for your own good, and probably too smart too.
You probably think I don't understand you. It must seem like a lifetime since I was 17 myself. But once upon a time, I was. And you are probably more like me than you think. Which is why I'm writing you this letter, baby.
See, that was me at 17. I know, I know. What was I thinking with the bleached hair? It is hard to believe that nearly 10 years after that picture was taken, you made me a Mommy. It was hard being 17. But the years between 17 and 27, they are good, honey. So good. You really become who you were meant to be, sweetheart. At 17, believe it or not, your life is just starting.
There are some things you need to know about being 17. They are real important. And I hope I am here to guide you through this time in your life. But the truth is, life is unpredictable. And God forbid, I am not there to hold your hand as life changes rapidly around you. I am writing you this letter, so you never forget. So you know how much you are loved. And how good life is going to get.
Be kind. To others, and yourself. At 17, I existed in a bubble. A bubble of my popular friends, and other kids, just weren't on my radar. Remember those other kids, honey. Smile at someone in the hall. You might make their day. Help a new student. Choose not to laugh at others expense. Try to put yourself in others shoes. Don't replace old friends when you make new ones. They are important too.
Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. You are as beautiful and perfect as the day you were born. God made you that way. Remember to be beautiful from the inside out. Outer beauty can fade, honey. Don't become so obsessed with how you look that you become critical of yourself. You know what people find more attractive that size 2 jeans? Confidence. Personality. I would choose a funny friend over a pretty friend any day.
Choose your friends wisely. I say this because, at 17, you want to be just like your friends. I know I did. You are who your friends are. So if your friends aren't the kind of people you are proud of. You won't be either. Choose friends who love you for who you are, because faking it will be exhausting. It's okay to be different. Once, in junior high, I went out and bought the same exact outfit as a popular girl, and wore it to school hoping for the same attention. But it wasn't me. I probably looked silly. And I feel even more ridiculous looking back realizing I was trying way too hard. It took me a few years to finally stop trying to be friends with the wrong people, and just be with people I enjoyed. Surround yourself with girls, and guys that make you laugh. Have adventures together.
Don't give yourself away just yet. I know at 17, you think you are in love. All your friends are, aren't they? You think it's going to last forever. Choose your boyfriends wisely. Not just at 17, but always. Choose someone who admires you. Choose the guy who makes you the best version of yourself. One who challenges you to try new things. Honey, don't get too serious too fast. I know this is easier said than done. At 17, I wanted to be as "in love" as all my friends. I jumped in head first. I chose wrong, Reese. I chose someone who stopped making me feel special after a few months. I chose someone who didn't make me a priority. I accepted being a second option. I accepted taking whatever he could give me, even though it wasn't nearly enough. Honey, I had my heart broken, and it felt like my world had ended. I know I can't spare you that pain. I know one day you are gonna hurt like hell. And when you do, I am here. I am here with a spot in my bed and under the covers. I'm here for you to hurt with and cry with. And I promise you it gets better. So I'm asking you to wait. Wait for the guy who treats you like your Daddy does. We started praying for your husband the day you were born. We know God has already picked out someone perfect for you. He might be in diapers at this very minute. But if you're patient, one day he is gonna knock you off your feet.
You can always come home. Always.No matter what you've done, or where you've gone, we are here, baby. Your MiMa and Poppy reminded me of the same thing when I was your age. There were nights I called Poppy to come get me from a friends house, or at a bar in the middle of the night. And even if I was getting caught in a lie, there was no better feeling than watching their car pull up to bring me home. At seventeen, you can put yourself into a lot of scary situations without meaning to. Never be afraid to call us. It doesn't matter where you are. We will hop on a plane if it means keeping you safe. Nothing you could ever do, will make us love you any less. We will treasure you even at your worst.
Let God in. Don't neglect your relationship with God. Take time to be thankful everyday for what He's given you. Take time to talk to Him like you would a friend. He loves you more than you could ever grasp. Bad things will happen. But He hasn't forgotten you, sweetheart. He can't wait to bring you to your eternal home where there are no more tears, or hurt, or death. No matter how many times you forget him, or turn away, He will be there with open arms when you are ready to come back. Nothing you do is bad enough to be undeserving of His love. He died for you. And He will love you all of your days. Let your light shine so others will know Him too.
You made my biggest dream come true when you made me a Mommy. I hope you always know how treasured and loved you are, my girl. Please don't grow up too fast. Take your time and enjoy the ride.
I love you as big as the sky,