For My Daughter’s 18th Birthday: Keep Doing Fabulous You

Momservation: The goal is to have our daughters always believe they are as smart, beautiful and talented as they felt at 5 years old.

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You were born with a smile on your face and laughter in your heart.

Before your first year you were already trying to keep up with your big brother, walking, talking, and having Pa dub you “Me Too!” after your favorite phrase.

By two we already knew we had a fire cracker, refusing to leave “Time Out” because you weren’t going to say you were sorry—confident already it wasn’t your fault and you were right. You also were a budding comedian just like your daddy. When a toot would slip out, with deadpan delivery you’d inform me: “Put THAT in your baby book!” before looking at Daddy and you both cracking up.

At three, just like your brother 17 months older than you, you were riding a bike without training wheels. He couldn’t do anything without you, you were his courage to try new things, a little curly-haired blonde girl leading the charge any time he said, “Come on, Whitney, let’s go.” He taught you how to jump your bike off a driveway ramp and itty-bitty you marched off to show him things like how to pass the swim test to be allowed to go down the water slide at a party.

When you were four I thought I was about to witness your first rejection when you asked an older boy at the park sandbox if you could play with him and his friend and he turned his back snarling, “We don’t want to play with you.” Instead of rushing over to comfort you, I watched you scooch over to them anyway with your bucket and shovel and declare, “Well, I’m going to play with you.” Not knowing what to do with such assertive friendliness they gave in, turned back around and all three of you did, indeed, play together.

At five I watched you go down with your ship in a lie over spitting out your vitamin in the garbage. Despite irrefutable proof of finding a freshly unchewed chewable vitamin in the bathroom waste basket, you stuck to your story, never wavering in your innocence and flabbergasted as to where that exact same color vitamin I just gave you could have come from. That is when Daddy and I realized we needed to make sure your confident stubbornness was going to be channeled into something productive so you would use it for good instead of evil.

We were sitting at the dinner table when at six years-old you announced you would be singing in the school talent show. You wanted to do a Hannah Montana solo, but I made you do it with a friend, worried you had underestimated the power of stage fright. There was no fear in sight when you belted out “If We Were a Movie” with your buddy, Meghan, and everyone gushed not over your singing talent but your radiant charisma.

At seven, you came home and shared that there was a new girl in your class. As you excitedly described your new friend, I started to pick up on her probably being a little black girl. No matter how I tried to get you to describe her physical characteristics, you never said the color of her skin. You simply didn’t see her as any different than you.

In third grade when you were eight, you won third place in the school Spelling Bee. I was so impressed you out-spelled sixth graders. You were mad you didn’t get first.

At nine you and your teammates won the 4th Grade Girls Buzzardball Basketball Championship at Arco Arena where the Sacramento Kings played. Again, the confidence was higher than the ability as a shooter, but you were a white-on-rice smothering defender. Victory was yours again, literally, in another arena.

As a ten year-old 5th grader, you decided you could use more friends (though you had plenty) and started doing Lunch With Friends where you ate lunch and played with the kids from the special needs class. When you shared that you had been doing that for some time, on your own, you didn’t see it as doing something extraordinary but rather, “Why wouldn’t I?”

You came home in sixth grade, 11 years-old, and announced you signed up for the Science Olympiad. After a few practices you quit, not in defeat but self-awareness. “I’m smart, but I’m not THAT smart,” you shrugged without a hint of self-pity.

At twelve, junior high finally shook your confidence. Trying to find your place in a pecking order of popularity, wanna-be’s and queen bees, you weren’t willing to sacrifice your authentic self to be with the “In Crowd.” I asked you to trust me, to continue to take the high road, because the cream always rises to the top. “As kids mature, they learn how to sort through the bullsh*t and they begin to value what really matters,” I promised hoping you could survive middle school with your amazing self-worth still intact.

In 8th grade at age 13, you joined the social media scene, and I did everything I could to protect you, guide you, and save you from yourself (and predators) as we navigated this Brave New World of being social through phones. It was a delicate dance of confidence being built up with one “hecka urb” post only to be torn down with online hate.

At fourteen you entered high school and on legs of shaky confidence, but with brave determination decided to run for Freshmen Class President against stiff competition. Not only did you win, your class, who recognized cream when they saw it, also voted you Homecoming Princess.

You became Sophomore Class President at fifteen and as if that, volleyball, basketball, and getting straight-A’s in Honors classes wasn’t enough…you decided to do Speech and Debate Club where you regularly made it to the final Super Congress rounds—many times as the only female. Dad and I were so proud of you using your powers for good instead of evil.

At sixteen you got your driver’s license and inherited The Honda from your brother. If only your ability on the road then was as strong as your confidence that you were an awesome driver. No question continuing to do a great job as Junior Class President.

It’s senior year and in your 17 years, all the wonderful things you have put out there as you being you, the rewards have come back to you. You are ASB President. Your peers voted you Homecoming Queen. You have mentored kids your entire high school career as both coach and camp counselor. You will be a Valedictorian. You will be going to your dream school, UC Santa Barbara in the fall. And through it all you have had a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.

You turned 18 at the beginning of this month. All the early hints of the amazing person you were going to be turned into the promise of a kind, compassionate, smart, talented, beautiful, stubbornly confident young woman ready to take on the world.

Dad and I would like to take some credit, but from the moment you were born you have been doing fabulous you. All we added was unconditional love, support in good times and challenging times, and the promise that we would always be here for you. You took it from there.

So in this month of your birth, and every day before and after, Dad and I would like to say: “Thank you, Lord, for choosing us to be Whitney’s parents.”

#DoYouEveryoneElseIsTaken  #Happy18thBirthday  #EnjoyTheJourney #Whitswheeler.com

2 comments

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Awww, thanks Karen! I just can’t believe it’s all gone so fast. We don’t go this way again, this amazing journey of raising/watching our kids grow up under our roof. It was a sentimental journey looking back on it all for sure. Thanks for stopping by and enjoying the journey with me!

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