It feels like Anna has been my friend her entire life. I’m pretty sure conversations with her at age four were very similar to conversations I would have with my adult friends….with the exception of our conversations over wardrobe. However, those conversations have only evolved from “No, those ripped tights look terrible under those shorts” to “This is MY shirt, not yours.” She assumes what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is hers. I told my own mother the other day, “I am so sorry for everything I said and did when I was 13 and 14.” Mom simply responded, “Thank you.” I understand it’s the circle of life. And, I also understand that it is very hard to tell Anna she can’t wear something of mine. She usually pleads a very convincing case. She’s a smart one. She always has been. And, she’s, for sure, a strong one. And, while I journey through the victories and lessons of raising a teenage daughter, I also marvel at her intuitive strength and her eyes that always see beyond what’s in front of her. She is a force with the most gentle soul. Her evolution has been both remarkable and surprising. And, I can’t imagine my life without her. Today, she is 14. I don’t know what year 14 looks like for her or me, but I know we are both ready.
Anna, nothing has grown me more than being your mother. Nothing has stretched my love past the lines I didn’t know I had drawn like you have. And, I mean that in the most grateful way. Thank you for always teaching me to see more than the obvious. Thank you for taking me deeper. Thank for being you. I could list hundreds of things I love about you (and, I know you’re reading this and saying “Well, get to listing, sister!” But, I have a lot more years ahead of writing birthday blogs. So, here are 14 things I love about you, “sister”:
1) I love that you call me “sister” and everyone else “sister” when you’re excited, when you’re emphatic, when you believe strongly in something, when you are surprised, when you disagree with someone. I also love how “sister” is gender neutral as far as you’re concerned. Everyone is sister.
2) I love how you actually laugh at me now and think I’m hilarious (even though I still can’t be that way, act that way, or do that thing around your friends. Whatever.)
3) I love how easy you are to shop for. It is rare I walk into a store and don’t see something that reminds me of you. And, I love how you appreciate the oddest things, the tiniest things, and the most adorable of things. I can hear the excitement in your voice right now over the smallest, cutest succulent I placed in your room. I LOVE that excitement in your voice. You make all of life come alive.
4) I love how you balance your motivation to achieve with your need and love for cuddling up on the sofa with your hot tea, laptop, and a Netflix marathon of The Office, Queer Eye, or Grey’s Anatomy. No one can get comfier faster than you with the exception of your father.
5) I love how you understand and enjoy artists from Kristen Chenoweth to Cardi B. You don’t elevate one person over another and always appreciate the art different people bring to the table.
6) I love how you communicate so well with people of all ages. You can have conversations with 4 years olds and 74 year olds alike.
7) I love your passion for trying to understand the world and your search to find how you can contribute to it best. I promise just your presence adds to this world, because you carry HIS presence everywhere you go. You don’t have to stress over what tomorrow looks like. Just keep being present in this moment. You contribute goodness NOW.
8) I love how thankful you are for everything in your life. And, I love how when you know someone wants something, even if you love it for yourself, you always choose them over that thing. You will always draw more to you by being open to give. I know you already know this.
9) I love how you love your brothers. I especially love the relationship you have with John Henry. You have both grown and grown together. And, I love how you look back on pictures of Jett when he was little and just want to cry. You’re the proudest little momma I know.
10) I love listening to you play the piano. I sit up in the living room sometimes, and I hear you working out hard pieces. I hear the most beautiful sounds, and it makes me so proud. Sometimes, I hear your frustration, but I also always hear and feel your determination to master it. I’m so proud of you for persevering through the hard. You are mastering much more than a piece of music, Anna. You are learning to master life.
11) I love your heart for worship and how real and meaningful it is for you.
12) I love how you are a voice for the marginalized. I love how you believe and live out of the truth that every single person matters. “A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everybody else.”
13) I love how brave you are and never back down from a challenge. It doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. But, you never let fear keep you from moving forward. DON’T EVER LOSE THAT, SISTER.
14) I love your honesty. Your truth is always so raw, so real, so vulnerable, and so beautiful.
Anna Takle, you are a most amazing human. You are a most amazing friend. A birthday blog or two ago I remembering writing that I could have never written a better story than the one I experience with you: as my daughter, as my teacher, as my friend. I know we are both head strong women. I know we have quite the road to travel down these next few years together. And, I know that we will do it hand in hand and with an undying determination to travel it well. I will keep teaching you, and you will keep teaching me. I love every day with you.
I love YOU.
Happy Birthday, Anna Takle. The world is a brighter (and fun) place with you in it.