Reprinted from "The Gift of Motherhood" published by Broadway Books.

Dear Jenn,

As we approach your graduation and your eighteenth birthday, I find myself filled with mixed emotions.

I am happy for you to have achieved this age of adulthood, yet I'm afraid that I haven't done enough - and time is quickly running out.

I am sad you are leaving home to go out into the world, yet I know you are ready and it is time. I am eager for you to see the world, to learn and grow, but I am fearful of some of the people you may encounter.

I am excited about the wonderful life you have in front of you, yet I'm concerned about how easily you are influenced by others.

I am proud of you going to University, yet I'm anxious about your ability to manage your time, priorities and projects.

I know that you are beautiful, bright, assertive, strong, resourceful, articulate and infinitely capable of achieving anything you set your mind to, yet I wonder if you will utilize your gifts and learn from every experience that happens.

I know you are a terrific person, and deep down I fear I haven't been everything I should have - that maybe I haven't been the best Mom.

I wonder, did I bake enough cookies?

Did I make enough crafts?

Did I read to you enough?

Did I play with you enough?

Did I do enough homework with you?

Did I hold you and cuddle with you enough so that you know forever how much I love you?

Did I spend enough time giving you values that you will have for the rest of your life?

Would I have done it differently? Only if the circumstances had been different.

Do I regret it? No, not really. Do I wish I could do it over? No. But I do dearly hope that throughout the last eighteen years that you know most of all that you are treasured - that there is nothing I wouldn't do for you - that I believe in you and know you have everything you need to make your life everything you want.

You are a star. Not because of me, but because of you.

I've make mistakes - and learned lessons - many of them, as you have and will. It will be challenging for both of us to embrace your imperfections, since so much of you is flawless. You will have to deal with forgiving yourself and I will have to accept disappointment; on the other hand, we will celebrate your successes together and rejoice in your achievements.

It's a time of change, a time of redefining. It's time for creating a new relationship between us - woman to woman.

You will make your own choices now, based on your head, heart, gut, and spirit. It's a time of soul searching and looking in the mirror -

Who do you see? Who do you want to see? What does that person in the mirror want to say to you? What do you truly want in life?

This is a moment of new beginnings - you are launching a life.

I want the world for you - nothing less - and I want, my dearest daughter, for all your dreams to come true.

I love you with all my heart


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