Today, Gabby, you are 12 years old. I know every mom says this, but it seems just like yesterday that I held you for the first time and kissed your head. Our time together has inexplicably both flown by and twisted by slowly at times, but I still feel like I haven't had nearly enough time to enjoy you.
Gabby, I'm just going to be straight with you. Being 12 (and 13, for that matter) sucked for me. These were hard years, full of drama and friend issues and boy issues and all kinds of stuff that was new to me and all kinds of weird. I remember, in particular, having this awesome outfit that was a pair of black palazzo pants with little white flowers and a moss green ribbed v-neck sweater to match, that I wore with my denim jacket and a black crusher hat. Stop laughing at me, dear. I got that outfit and I.LOVED.IT. Like think about how much I love that black pencil skirt now, and those leopard print shoes that you don't like. That's how much I freaking adored that outfit. But I wore it the first day to school and people laughed at me. It was horrible. Now, I'm not telling you that people are going to make fun of your clothes, or even that your life is going to be awful for the next two years. All I'm saying is that things are going to be new and odd and at times you are going to think that growing up is pretty overrated. There will be days when things just don't go right, where some boy is being stupid and all you want to do is sit in your room and listen to the Tony Rich Project on repeat all day and think deep thoughts about the state of life and Robert Frost poems (and uh, you can take the words "Tony Rich Project" and erase them and insert "Bruno Mars" because I think it is all the same). But you can't. You just have to keep plugging along with hopes that it will get better, because let me tell you, honey. IT WILL.
Gabby, I'm telling you all this because like it or not, we are a lot alike. And I see one thing in you that I desperately don't want to see, and that is a desire (or, rather, a soul-crushing NEED) to be perfect. You are like me in that you want everything to be perfect for everyone and not bother anyone with your issues and just kind of skip through life because you SHOULD be smart enough to figure it all out on your own. And babe, this is not what I want for you. I'll just tell you this right now: none of us are perfect. And we best just quit trying. And while it might be a little late in the game for this old dog to change, you are still young and amazing, and I want you to know right now that I love and accept you not inspite of, but for all your imperfections. And you have never been and will never be a problem that I have to "fix" or an inconvenience. So even if someday you feel like you have messed something up so royally that the world will simply just stop spinning, I won't care. Honey, you don't even know some of the crap I've pulled. Just tell me. And I'll probably tell a bad joke about the whole situation, and you will roll your eyes. But we will take care of it together. Because I'm your mom, and I freaking adore you. Hell, I already have forgiven you for getting the Bieber fever (an advanced case, I should point out). If we can get through bad pop music together, the world is our oyster.
My dear, you have grown up with your father and me. Or, as your dad said last night, you've "grown up in spite of us." You're only 12 years old, and already you have been to college and to grad school and moved across the country twice. And you've handled it awesomely, and you've gotten up every morning with a smile and attacked each day with your own particular style. I think of you as a wonderful daughter, but I also think of you as my little compatriot. I can't imagine ever having been without you. You are the most beautiful person I've ever met, and you're the funniest, and after a long day, you're still the person that I want to see the most. If I hadn't met you 12 years ago, I don't think I would be anywhere near where I am today. You have, in short, made my life, and your father's life, and we are amazed that we got lucky enough to have you.
I'll close now because this is getting pretty sappy, and you've probably rolled your eyes about 12 times now, and I'm afraid if I keep going your eyes will stick in some kind of weird contortion and you'll always blame me for that. In closing, though, I'll remind you that if things get bad, we can handle it. And if things get REALLY bad, you, I and Courtney Love can handle it. Because when life gives you 12 year old lemons, you turn on Hole and kick the living crap out of those lemons until you feel better.
*P.S. I'm sorry that I used the word "Hell" once and the word "crap" once in your letter. I know you hate bad language. I'm trying to do better. But, as you know, your mom definitely has her foibles.