This is 15

15Sweet 16 gets all the glory. But what about 15? It’s the younger sister to 16, hanging around in its shadow — unless that is, you are Latino and having a quinceanera. Which we are not.
But we are having a 15th birthday in our family, and it’s tomorrow. And rather than buy a birthday card off the shelf, I’m dedicating this birthday blog to the older half of The Precious Pair, the one who is celebrating.

So, what is 15? Here are a few of my current observations:

It began not even a month ago with intense nerves. And now, we are already in a groove. Geometry sucks. And it’s a really big deal when upperclassmen are nice to you. These are the challenges that come with the first year of high school. Especially when you are attending a school with 3,000 students. And your mom went to a school with 500 and finds it hard to relate to some of your life at this point. But she is here for you, and so are lots of other people. As you will see in the rest of this blog.

This is a very important task when you are 15, especially in the morning on the way to that huge high school mentioned above. You are super lucky. You do not have to take the bus in the morning. This is a good thing, because you have several things to do in the car: your hair in one of 75 different styles (the braids are the cutest!), your light make up – even though your mom will tell you to add more color to your palette. But you will stick to your guns about that. Because she is her style and you are yours. And your styles are very different, yet complementary.

As part of that unique bohemian style you are rocking, you have a unique gift for thrifting. You walk through those doors and come out with huge bags of treasures, and it’s mind boggling. Your mom was way too snobby at your age to shop at Goodwill. So she is fascinated – and grateful – that you can find 90% of your wardrobe there.

Much like your mom, your bonds and loyalty to your friends are fierce. You have a friend group like none other. Mostly the same ones since second grade. You adore them, and the feeling is mutual back to you. They are smart, sweet, fun, funny, and beautiful, both inside and out. You will be friends for life. No doubt about it.

As you say yourself, some people don’t even have one dog, and you have three. CiCi the Pug and Sunny the Corgi at your mom’s house, and Daisy the Dane at your dad’s house. Your deep connection and affection for animals are admirable traits. You just might have been a doggy yourself in a former life.

You throw far too much shit away, and this causes conflict with your mom. But you have the prettiest room in your house because you designed it yourself. Your bedroom is also the guestroom, and it is generous and accommodating of you to share it in this way. You do not attach emotions to things. You attach them to people. And isn’t that the way life should be?

Uh-oh. Did you really think this blog was going to be all sunshine and roses? You procrastinate with the best of them. You have many all -nighters to pull in your future when it comes to both high school and college obligations. Please do not become too dependent on whatever they call Cliff’s Notes these days. Leave time to read the actual book. Do not fall too far into the trap of procrastination that your mom has  patterned for you over many years.

Yes, you were raised to become this. It was inevitable. You like your Pink Drinks and your teas. In fact, you say you will always be a tea drinker versus coffee. And you definitely have the calmer vibe that tea drinkers possess. By the way, keep up this gentle side of you. Because it benefits everyone around you.

You are vegetarian. This is important to you. So is the planet. Your mom has learned more about the rain forest fires from you than anyone else. You love the blessing of nature, everywhere you go. You notice sunsets and leaves and the clouds in the sky. You never take these things for granted. Thank you for this.

In addition to your predictions regarding the importance tea will have in your life, you have also decided you will not drink alcohol nor will you swear, ever. Keep those visions. You do you. And if you change your mind about these things, no judgment here.

You are artsy. Music. Language and writing. Arts and crafts. Food. These are the many ways you express yourself. And it’s lovely to witness. Never deny the creativity inside you. Releasing it is essential to your well-being. You are an old soul who has wisdom to share and stories to tell and feelings to make into art, in many formats. Your talents run deep, although you often say you are not the best at anything. You will find your best. As soon as you release the pressure upon yourself to find it.

Even at 15, you think you know what you want to be when you grow up. This has changed many times in your childhood, but you seem to be quite settled on becoming a teacher. Probably social studies. Probably middle school. You have the patience and the passion and the love of kids that this profession will require of you. And you do not care that you will not make a lot of money in this line of work. Because after all, as noted , you are a thrifty minimalist who will never require a large paycheck. Good for you.

They are paramount to you. Your parents, your younger sister, your grandparents, your aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even extended family beyond these relationships. You love them wholly, and they love you back even more. You are remarkable to them. Keep paying them the attention they deserve. Call them. Send them text messages. Write them letters in the mail. Honor them. Because, as you know, they are life’s most precious gifts.

This is the theme of your 15th birthday. Actually, it is the theme of your life. There is nothing in this list that makes your loved ones prouder. You will never lose this part of yourself, because it is pure and ingrained.

This is number 15 on the list. I end here because this is most important and makes you who you are. Your relationship with God is unique and deep. Your spirituality is shown through your sixth sense. You understand things and animals and people better than most. You just know things. You can sense someone’s story. This is why you give great advice to your friends and even your middle-aged mom. Sometimes it is not fair that people constantly look to you for your counsel; however, it is the greatest compliment to you. In fact, when you say you are not the best at any one thing, that is not accurate. This is what you do best. Being present. Being faithful. Going beyond the surface and discovering the layers of life that others will never notice. This is your gift from God. Your parents wish they could claim credit for it, but they simply cannot. It is beyond DNA.

And so this is my birthday card to you, ESP. I could not end this tribute without acknowledging the challenges you and I are facing during this chapter of life. You are a teenager. I am not. I used to be, a while back. And those times and that experience was much different than what you are living right now. I was a lot like you when I was 15. Now that I am 40 something, I am a much different version of myself. For these reasons, we are very different yet the same in our fiber. This is why we clash. This is why we often disagree. This is why we raise our voices to one another at times. You are opinionated, strong, and soulful. You are passionate. These are the things I see in you that I see in myself. And so, we will keep clashing for now. And that is perfectly okay. This is what is intended for you and me, once in a while, right now. This is our type of love. It is true and honest and raw at times. But I would never want you to change nor would I want to change for you. Even when we are disagreeing, I love being with you. I always love being your mom.

If this is 15, I will prepare myself for 16. But please let it be slow in coming. Time is greedy and selfish. Time never understands. We will not let Time rob us though. Right, Elle Belle? We will make the most of what we have left of these teen years and high school and all the wonders (and even the struggles) that come with it.

Happy #15 with All My Love,
(also known as “Mommy”)

4 thoughts on “This is 15

  1. Oh Michelle… what a beautiful tribute to Ellie. You put to words everything unique and special and perfect about her!!! I love her like my own. Happy Birthday sweet girl. 💜

  2. Wow! What a wonderful birthday card. We are so proud of you, Ellie. It is a joy being around you. Love you tons and tons (that’s what we said when we were your age).
    Papa Du and Grandma Mu.

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