To my daughter Evelyn on her tenth birthday

My precious daughter,

You recently came to me with tears brimming in your beautiful brown eyes, and you whispered that you felt sad that you were growing up. You were worried that you are about to turn ten, and that you are more than halfway to being an adult. “Tell me the truth, Mom. Was it hard to move out of Grandma and PaPa’s house, when you became an adult?”

2 weeks
New Evelyn.

On the climb to double digits, you have transformed from a darling, quirky little girl with thick brown curls to a brilliant and thoughtful young woman. You, dearheart, are the baby who made me into a mother, and your life brings our family so much joy.

Even when you’re grown and can’t wait to move out on your own (all as it should be), I will cherish the memories of you: reaching for dust motes in the sunlight, convinced they were “stars in the room”; reading for the first time; going to preschool; giggling with your sister; hiking and wondering at the simplest natural scenes; picking up a field hockey stick and shocking us all with your control and grace; patiently helping your brother do things “for himself.”


2.5 years old, Shenandoah National Park

From the time you could talk, you have surprised us with your maturity, your intuition, your creativity, and your moral core.

You always tell the truth, even when it gets you in trouble. I love how you haven’t fully accepted the restraint of a social filter; you make me laugh with your witty provocations and you touch my heart with your sensitive perceptions of the world around you.

11 months old, reading

You have always seen the magic around you, and even as you’ve grown older, your heart still yearns for the beauty, mystery, and meaning you find in myths and fairy tales. I hope that you hold on to that as you continue developing into an adolescent and adult.

ev 3 and a half

You have borne the burden of being my first child: the one on whom I tried out parenting tips and tricks. And you have surpassed all that your dad and I could have hoped for you when you joined our family in April 2004.

4 years old
4 years old

You changed me, Evelyn. From you I have learned patience, flexibility, creativity under pressure, and how to function on less sleep than I ever thought possible. Being your mom has taught me so much, and my heart overflows with gratitude that I get to be your mom.

tap shoes
Dance class, 5 years old

You live life fearlessly–like you can take on anything. Your dad and I have watched you try many new things, from amusement park rides to new schools, musical instruments to making friends of your own. I am so, so proud of you. And I know that I will continue to revel in your maturing, celebrating each step you take toward adulthood even as my heart breaks a little bit with each reminder that you are not mine, that you cannot stay young and sweet and here.


Getting to be your mom is one of the greatest joys of my life. I feel incredibly lucky to know you and to watch you grow into such a beautiful, smart, and compassionate young lady.

An early selfie, 9.5 years old

Happy 10th birthday, my precious Evelyn.

Love always,


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