Almost 15 years ago you entered this world kicking and screaming. You scared the heart out of us, the doctors, and the nurses. The NICU nurses called you “Miss Attitude”. Even in distress that August day you showed them all you were not to take anything without a fight. You made me a Mom under the craziest circumstances, and looking back, maybe they were fitting. How could we know back then, when we were discharged, a few days later, and all of NYC went black in the blackout that no one will forget, that was just the beginning of all things epic?
I look at you now, taller than me, beautiful and smart, athletic and talented, and I burst with pride. You are good in your core. You are pure in your heart. You hold yourself to a fiercely high standard, and you hold others there too.
We’ve long passed the point where summarizing your history is easy, or even practical. Truth is, most people’s heads would explode to hold inside the medical journeys we’ve taken, and the emotional bumps and bruises along the way.
You made a decision many years ago, that your struggles would be only part of you, and that they would NEVER define you. You want to achieve, and you do achieve, in spite of your struggles, and not because of them.
Facing your teen years with the cloud of Cowden’s Syndrome always hanging nearby is daunting, to say the least. You possess knowledge, statistics and realities about your own body that no one your age should have to try to understand. You have more memories of trips into and out of operating rooms than most people would ever know in a lifetime. You have been held down, poked, prodded and examined so many times, even I sometimes try to forget. You have been through Physical Therapy and rehabilitation so frequently that we have the numbers for multiple surgeons and the best PT in the world, saved into speed dial.
Before you were 11 the threat of cancer stole your thyroid, and as normal teenage hormones kicked in, yours were just a bit more complex. Precancerous cells in your uterus before the age of 12 necessitated more synthetic hormones, and your body… sigh. Beat up and abused, no wonder it gets annoyed.
The PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) diagnosis was not a shock, rather the exclamation point on the end of a very long sentence. Before the start of the next paragraph, in what will be a very long story…
The struggle to deal with it takes place mostly behind closed doors, and most people would have no idea.
You just keep going.
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
The longer, and harder the battle, the more determined you become.
You excel at school. You continue to make strides at swim. You are learning to use the beautiful voice you were gifted with.
You are my pride, my privilege, my daughter and my friend.
You have strengthened my resolve. You have helped me fine tune my “Mamma Bear”.
You have helped me learn self-restraint when I have had to allow you to handle things on your own.
You have helped me become a better human.
Sometimes, my dear, I want to scream, as your stubborn, rigid, principled self, clashes with my “I want to fix it” attitude. And yet, I count myself lucky in this day and age to have a daughter who is so sure of her principles that she will not bend to the whim of the crowd.
I wish for you the ability to find joy and laughter. I wish for you, to be able to smile among the good people you meet, and allow them into your world. I wish for that the kind souls you meet are able to understand that there is more to you than initially meets the eye.
I want you to know that you are good enough, and that you are enough. Yet, I want you to remain hungry and goal oriented and kind and compassionate too.
A wise woman (your grandma) once told me, you do more changing in your 20s than you ever do in your teens. You will continue to grow and learn and change, and develop your personality. Set your goals, meet them, exceed them, or rewrite them. Life is fluid, and full of change.
No matter how hard things get, never ever lose HOPE, and NEVER GIVE UP.
You gave me a beautiful necklace today. The compliment of being referred to as “Wonder Woman” is about as high praise as a mom of a teen could ask for.
If I possess those qualities they are because of you.
We will continue to take this long journey. The road will never be smooth. But I would take no other path if it meant traveling without you.
Together we remain #beatingcowdens.
Thank you my dear. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your world.
Thank God for selecting me as your mother.
Love you always,