I Thought I Was the Teacher – A Letter to My Daughter For Her Birthday

My Sweetest Girl~


On the 10th of July, 2004, you changed everything in my world by making me a mother.

It was both the most frightening and most beautiful moment of my life. Beautiful because, well, YOU…. stunning, amazing, extraordinary you. This tiny human being who had quite literally shared my heart, my blood, my soul…. this sweet miracle I had helped to create was being held right here in front of me – and she – YOU – was glorious. Frightening for two reasons – I had no idea what I was doing and I was suddenly responsible for you – this helpless beauty, and because I was so sick after having you….sick enough that they wouldn’t even let me hold you. But you know that story.

Delaney Newborn


When you were born, you had ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes.


I remember thinking I was the teacher when I helped you to learn to count to ten.

Delaney Toddler

Now I know better.

You are my teacher.

And I am a better mother, a better daughter, a better friend, a better person for the realization.

Ten days ago you started the countdown to today…. the day you turn TEN.

Double Digits. Ten on the Tenth. Your Golden Birthday.


I have always been proud of you. I have always thought you were special. I think that is the nature of being a mother. Unconditional love and all that good stuff. But I am finding there is so much more. When I look at you, Delaney, I see possibilities. You allow me to see the world through a different lens. I see joy hidden in the corners of our days.

You have pushed me to find patience again, to see beauty in quiet, to embrace quirks in myself, to feel a swelling pride in my chest that threatens to explode as I watch you navigate this growing process.

Delaney. Punky. Mini. Sweet Girl. Every single day, I am in awe of you.

You see, I thought I was the teacher.

I thought I would be the one to have the answers, to guide you on this life path, but I have learned – this year especially – as I have watched your independence flourish, as I have seen you tackle moments I previously thought you would refuse, as I watched courage challenge fear, as you allowed me to be the shoulder you needed, as I witnessed unhinged joy on your face and in your little body that every child should experience….you are my teacher. 


I love that you come to me to talk. I love that you are both guarded and honest. I love that you hesitate to show emotion, but feel deeply. I love that you and I are so very different, but love each other just the same. I love that you hate dresses with a deep, dark passion because it is so very YOU. I love that you ‘play like a girl’ – and KNOW you are good at it. (I love to watch you play). I love that you love your freckles. I love how you love and protect your little brother. I love how you love your Daddy….(you know how he melts when you call him Daddy, right?) I love your love of reading. And your Heart….I love your heart, Punky.

You are quiet and brave.

You are beautiful and strong.

You are quirky and proud.

You are witty and wise.

You are intelligent and kind.

You are happy and inspired and loving….from one freckle to another.

You are enough and you know it.

As you start this new year, I wish you more.


More of the joy and challenges of this past year – more friendships to build you up, more teachers to guide you, more teams to support you, more wins and losses to prepare you for life, more belly laughs and hugs, points scored, hits and doubles, karaoke, wrestling with your brother, playing ball with your dad and snuggling with me.

I wish you HAPPY. I love you with everything I have, Baby Girl.

Love, Mommy.

  • http://www.musingsofahousewife.com Jo-Lynne Shane

    This is SUCH a beautiful post. Happy birthday, sweet Delaney!!!

  • Melissa Chapman

    what a wonderful love letter for your sweet Delaney– wishing her the happiest of birthdays!

  • http://crissypage.com/ Crissy Page

    She really is your “mini,” and I’ll bet it goes much deeper than your shared good looks! :) Happy birthday to your sweet girl, loved having this glimpse into your special relationship!

  • momtrends

    She’s so amazing!

  • Danielle Smith

    I’m grateful, Jo-Lynne. I will admit to crying some as I wrote it. She just does something to me.

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you so much, Melissa. I’m so lucky to have her.

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you, Nicole. To say I’m lucky is an understatement.

  • Danielle Smith

    Oh Crissy – thank you so much for that. Your words are so beautiful. She has my heart is such a big, beautiful way. I see the same reflected in the way you write about your children and take pictures of them. xo

  • http://amyvernon.net/ AmyVernon

    Happy birthday! :) What a lovely letter to your daughter, Danielle.