Today, my brown-eyed girl turns 21.
When we found out we were having a you, I wigged out. How was I going to be a mother to a little girl? My own mom, having left me feeling inadequate after getting pregnant with Corey, got in my head and stayed there. I didn’t feel that I was mothered as a kid so I wasn’t mentally prepared to raise a girl.
I want you to know that the first 21 years of your life have been a wonderful ride. I am a better person for going down that road with you.
There are a few things I want you to know. First of all, you are my best friend. I know that I drive you crazy and frustrate you at times but you know what they say, paybacks are hell.
I admire your tenacity. You are one of the most strong willed individuals I know. You always have been. You set a goal and attain it. You are a rock star.
I promise you that I will remain in your life as long as I am breathing. We may disagree but nothing will come between us, ever.
Being your mom isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. You make it pretty easy. Thank you for staying out of trouble throughout your teenage years. I never once worried about decisions you were making.
I think what I love most about being your momma is the fact you make me laugh. Not always but when you do it’s the “I’m gonna pass out, Casey” kind of laugh. I look forward to that laughter. Well, except for the lightheadedness that follows.
I was trying to come up with a few ways that we are alike. I was having a hard time, so I asked Daddy. He said we are alike in that we are both incredibly stubborn. I guess that’s accurate.
Picking a favorite memory was near impossible. I’m going with something I witnessed your freshman year in high school. It was a playoff game against Brenham, you were pitching and gettin’ hammered. My heart broke for you but at the same time, I couldn’t have been more proud at that moment. You’re ability to stay composed under those circumstances and your willingness to stay the course, I was in awe. I knew at that moment that you were going to be just fine with whatever life threw at you. Guess that stubborn streak pays off.
I miss watching you play softball. Those memories with you and our softball family are some of the best that I have and will cherish them always. I miss the red dirt, the cleats left in the floorboard and the never-ending practices.
Staying busy with softball was a good thing. You learned more about life than we could have ever taught you on our own. I am grateful for that game. That game was your first love. You didn’t have time for any other kind of “love” until that gangling Barringer boy started coming around. I was worried at first but only because you were so young. As Marie has said on more that one occasion, “the heart wants what the heart wants.” Watching you fall in love was inspiring.
Watching you marry your best friend was something out of a fairy-tale. If you”ll remember, your request that day was for me to get a picture of Blake when he saw you for the first time. In the process of making good on your request, I missed seeing you walk down the aisle. I couldn’t believe it. The moment every mother longs for, gone. It’s ok though, what I gained seeing the way he looked at you was worth what I missed.
At that moment, I saw a boy become a man. A man who was going to cherish my daughter for life. I imagine that you had a similar look on your face.
As you start your own family, I want you to start your own traditions. Keep what you liked about growing up and chunk what you didn’t. But please remember always, time is more precious than anything money can buy.
Marriage is tough. Daddy and I are proof that you can make it through anything. Marie and Robert are as well. It will not be easy, however.
Hold hands when y’all are walking into the grocery store. Sit by each other on the couch when you are watching TV. Laugh often. Cook for him, he’ll appreciate that. You are an amazing cook, by the way! Sit down and talk about finances. Money seems to be the cause of most fights in a marriage. Did I mention laugh? I watch you both and know that you have something special. I don’t need to give you a to do list, y’all are kicking ass.
Please don’t ever to ask come back home. I know that sounds harsh but unless you are being caused bodily harm, you need to stick it out. The only reason I didn’t leave during the “bad years” was because I really didn’t have anywhere to run away to. Thank God for that. So, while we are here for you through think and thin, you can never run away home.
You are already finding out that life gets hectic. Time flies, don’t blink and all of the other cliches. Please found a way to decompress. When life is a crap storm, find shelter with Blake. Figure out what’s most important and go from there.
I know that I haven’t always been the best mom and made the best choices in raising you but I went with my gut, always. Please forgive me for my shortcomings and know I was and am doing the best I can.
When you’re a mom, remember to let your kids get dirty. I know you will. The dirt will wash off, the memories will last a lifetime. If your kids don’t remember, you will.
You’ll think that you’re going to remember each moment, but you won’t. Take lots of pictures but don’t miss out on the moments while they are happening. My photo albums are worth more to me than silver and gold. Looking at pictures of days gone by helps jog my memory. They take me back to a place that I long for but wouldn’t return to.
I’m not the best at saying I love you and for that I apologize. I’ve tried to show you I love you in other ways. Make sure that you tell your kids and Blake that you love them. Tell them often.
My birthday wish for you is that in twenty five years, you can be as happy as Daddy and I are. I pray that you don’t have to go the all-terrain way to get here. I’ve told you that there was a time I hated him. Don’t let that happen in your marriage. It takes too long to bounce back and time is precious.
What a ride it has been,
Casey Layne. Thanks for making me a better person.
Today, my brown-eyed girl turns 21.