In two weeks,
you will be thirteen years old.
Being our first child,
the first grandchild for all the grandparents,
the first niece or nephew for any of the aunts and uncles,
you break these barriers for us all.
I recognize that this isn't an easy position
to be put in.
More than any of the other subsequent children or grandchildren,
you are analyzed, critiqued and watched.
You were also, however, the most applauded
and the greatest center of attention.
You are a powerful and headstrong force.
This should come as no surprise, however.
years ago your mom and dad went to Duke University,
where your mom had some tests run.
This doctor at Duke told your mom and dad
that they "had a snowball's chance in hell"
of conceiving a child naturally.
About two months later,
I was pregnant with you.
You see, this doctor had no idea who he was speaking to.
I don't like limits,
don't like being told what to do
and the more I perceive those limits,
the harder I am going to buck and fight
to get those shackles off.
You, my dear daughter,
carry that trait in spades.
A doormat you are not,
nor will you ever be, God willing.
Together we have found our way
from a long and extended labor that ended in an emergency c-section,
to an infancy I wasn't sure either of us would survive,
to a gregarious, cheerful and imaginative toddler.
You've survived numerous moves
from house to house
and school to school.
You've survived your parents'
uninformed and often bungled attempts
with a fair amount of humor
and a great latitude for error.
You are a generous and kind big sister
to brothers who are so close that you are often left out.
Yes, the last twelve years have been an adventure.
And now, to think what is to come in the next twelve!
choosing a major and a direction for your life.
Then, after that, it is anyone's guess.
Maybe you will be a teacher, or a social worker,
or a lawyer.
Maybe you will be involved in adoptive services.
Maybe you will adopt children or get married.
Your future is bright and wide open.
I can hardly wait to see what you do.
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