Birthday Learning

Dear Melina,

Back in March, when we celebrated Daddy’s birthday quarantine-style, I’m not sure I really understood that we’d be celebrating your birthday in a similar manner. But here we are, 107 days (!) later, and we’re choosing to shelter-in-place as much as possible. I personally haven’t found the quarantine all that disruptive to my lifestyle and neither have you. What I have found, is that I know even more about you now that I’ve spent so much time with you.

I can see you now, reading that sentence. You’ll likely roll your eyes at me and say “Bruh,” a response I somehow just can’t wrap my mind around. (When is it appropriate to use? What does it really mean? How old is too old to say it? And more. I have so many more questions regarding “Bruh” that just show my age.) Obviously if we’re spending more time together, I’ll get to know more about you. But parents really think they know their children, and up until March 13, I would have said I knew you really well. Clearly, I didn’t know the half of it.

I won’t get into the particulars of those “things” I didn’t understand, but let’s just say this: I now understand that you are more self-sufficient than I realized and that sometimes, you just ask me to do things because you don’t feel like doing them yourself. (I can’t even begin to imagine why you might do that; perhaps learned behaviors from your siblings? Wink, wink.) I also understand how frustrating and paralyzing the world can be to you when someone doesn’t do what you expect them to do. And finally, I understand that even though you are now twelve (!), you have many years of learning ahead of you. Years to learn patience, compassion, and forgiveness, mostly with respect to yourself.

You see, Melina, you’ve always been able to see the good in other people. You’ve always managed to smile and laugh and brighten a person’s day when they need it. You’ve always forgiven others and showed compassion when needed. You’ve done these things for other people, but you’re very hard on yourself. Too hard sometimes. So I want you to know this: You don’t need to be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. And sometimes, mistakes bring about such beauty, you can’t imagine what you meant to do in the first place.

The first twelve years of your life have been pretty easy, and I don’t anticipate (or wish for you) too much trouble going forward. But life can turn on a dime, and we always need to be ready to roll with whatever punches it gives to us. And that is much easier to do when we can sit back and laugh at ourselves, forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make, and know that each mistake we make is an opportunity to learn.

So this year, since we seem to be having so much time together, my goal is to spend the time helping you learn those lessons. And eventually, you’ll see yourself just like most others do.

You’re a beautiful person, Melina, inside and out. Keep on being you because the world needs a lot more kindness these days.

Happy Birthday!


Picture of lone daisy by Berkan Küçükgül at

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