Dear Reagan,

Eleven years ago, I wasn’t sleeping. I was in pre-labor with you and I was too scared to sleep. I was just willing it to be 8 a.m. so I could get to my doctor’s appointment. Granddaddy and Grandmama drove me. We made it to Jackson in about 30 minutes and that was including a stop for a newspaper for Granddaddy and chocolate milk for me.

The minute I laid eyes on you I knew the meaning of “love at first sight.” I cried and cried and cried. You were just so….perfect.

Being your mom has been, and is, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Because it’s a constant balance of holding on and letting go. Holding on when you need me to correct you, letting you go when you need to make your own mistakes and learn from them. Holding on when you just need to know that I’m here, that I care, letting go when you need to find ways of soothing yourself. Holding on when you need an advocate, letting go when you need to fight your own battles – with others, or with yourself.
And baby girl, let me tell you, the biggest battles in your life will be those – the ones with yourself. So let me just stop right here and say a few things I want you to know:

First of all, nobody can make you feel anything that you don’t give them permission to make you feel. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve yourself, but when you do, do it for you.

Secondly, the world is not out to get you, but it’s not giving away anything for free either so work your butt off, celebrate your victories big, learn from your defeats, and give thanks in all circumstances because God uses them all – good and bad – to make us more like the Savior I’ve raised you to lean on. And whether you win or lose at something, do it graciously.

Thirdly, choose your friends carefully. They will be the ones who lift you up when you need it, who will fight alongside you, and who will believe the best in you when you can’t see it yourself.

I watched your basketball team experience their first loss tonight. I watched you when you played – how you stopped trying so hard when you saw defeat coming. I watched you getting agitated and angry and frustrated. Darlin, I have been where you are. Quite recently, in fact. And losses suck. Pure and simple. It sucks that there are people out there that are better players than we are. But guess what, you were not born to quit. If you didn’t get anything else in your genes, you got a double dose of stubbornness. So don’t give up. Even when you know defeat is coming, hold your head up, and go down fighting. Learn from it, and make yourself proud of the manner in which you finished. Don’t be ignorant-stubborn….don’t keep repeating mistakes. Just be determined to not let your losses, in basketball or in life, define you.

I watch you, observe you, a lot. Even when you don’t think I am. Not because I’m scrutinizing you, but because you continue to fascinate me. I still catch myself looking at your face and thinking, “She’s really mine? I have a daughter? God gave me a daughter.” You are such a gift, my darling Reagan. You continue to teach me about so many things. I can hardly believe a whole decade has come and gone since I first held you in my arms, sang lullabies, rocked you to sleep.

I’m so proud of you. So thankful for you. I want you to know that there is nothing, nothing you could ever do to diminish my love for you. It is constant, unconditional, and forever.

Happy Birthday, Reagan Lynn. I hope your 11th year is filled with wonderful things, beautiful moments, good books, great friends, and memories that you will cherish always.