My daughter had her bat mitzvah last week and it was amazing. Yes, it was a big soiree -- she is our third and final baby, so a bit of a last hurrah one might say. I loved every minute of it. Watching Emme shine in front of all of our family and friends, enjoying those I love and cherish so much and dancing the night away in a gown with abandon, was magic. And one thing I enjoyed more than I expected was sharing my feelings about Emme with her out loud. It was intimate and public at the same time, as if we were in a bubble that others could witness. Several friends shared that they felt like voyeurs getting a glimpse into our bond.
I realize that writing a speech to share in public one's feelings for a child is not on most people's list of favorite things. And I, too, looked to the Internet for a starting point -- a quote, a story, a toast someone else posted to get me thinking. We all need a catalyst, I think. I grasped at some pretty meager straws and promised myself to share my words in case anyone out there is looking for that bit of inspiration, as I was. If my words help another mom or dad, or anyone for that matter, or even just make someone smile, I'll be ecstatic.
So, here are my words to Emme, a beautiful soul who is no longer a child but not yet fully grown. I love her madly of course, and thank her for allowing me to share my words, again.
Thoughts for Emme
Emme. First I'd like to tell you that I am SO proud of you. You were extremely enthusiastic about choosing your dress, selecting the music for the party and planning the activities for your friends, but let's just say that preparing for this part of this day has not been your favorite part. So, I'm very proud that you have accomplished what you set your mind to do. And beautifully, I'll add. How about that?
And while I do get to have your sole attention -- no Instagram feed to chat or Snapchats and texts to read -- I get to share with you that you have been a beautiful gift to me, and that you have a beautiful and special gift that you offer the world.
It's no easy feat to be a third child, the baby of the family and in our family, a third daughter. Nor is it easy to follow in the footsteps of Grace and Audrey, specifically. And yet, your sisters have nothing on you but years.
You are uniquely lovely and elegant on the outside and on the inside, even more so. What I truly admire about you is that you live your life out loud and in the present moment. Inside the increasingly sophisticated and grown-up young lady standing before me -- in your chic dress and high heels -- is a kid. You are courageous, adventurous, curious and boy, do you like to have fun. Youth is not wasted on you, Emme. And this is your gift.
You love and live to play. Never mind that you might have a test the next day. Never mind that it's a Monday and you've already played tennis or golf. If the sun is out, someone can still come over -- even if he or she lives in the Palisades. No problem!
You say "yes" before you even know the question. Whether it's to visit grandma, go to Go Greek or let Audrey practice her driving. You're always open to an adventure.
When you fight, you pull out your light saber.
When you laugh, the neighbors can hear.
You still jump and run and shoot hoops in the driveway. Oh, and your spiral is still unrivaled in Beverly Hills. Ask any of the 7th grade boys.
And most strikingly, you don't worry, plan, or second-guess. Your optimism and cheerfulness is intoxicating and your countless friends (and boyfriends) would agree.
Yet, you are also appropriately wise and thoughtful. You are empathetic, kind and compassionate. Is there a baby or a dog you couldn't like? Couldn't touch or cuddle? Oh, and you could possibly be the best cuddler in our family. It's true -- that is, besides me. And your hands quite possible give the best massage in the entire extended family, second maybe to Aunt Candice.
Your big heart, too, is fierce. It came already cracked wide-open to soak in the love around you and shine it back into the world.
So, in short, Emme, in your playfulness, you sometimes forget to tie your shoes, you sometimes forget to call your mom and dad, you sometimes forget to do your homework. But you never forget to have fun. You never forget to love those around you. You never forget to tend to those in need. And this, my sweet girl, is your gift.
During the course of your bat mitzvah studies, you learned about the transition from childhood to adulthood. You studied the importance of being responsible for your actions, for recognizing that as an adult you will have certain obligations to society, to your community and to your family and friends. And while you don't exactly understand it yet, the future you are inheriting is a complex one. The challenges your generation will face will sometimes seem insurmountable. But Dad and I have no doubt that you will contribute towards the improvement of the lives of others in many meaningful and impactful ways. So, rather than reaffirm the importance of accepting your new-found obligations, today, I have a different wish for you.
My wish for you as you enter adulthood on your bat mitzvah is simply this: to remain a kid. Don't lose your gift of being playful and living in the moment. In the words of a favorite lullaby:
There are swings to be swung on, trees to be climbed up.
Days to be young on, toys you can wind up.
Grass to be lyin' on, sun up above.
Pillows for cryin' on, when you're in love.
Ponies for ridin' on, wind in your hair.
Slides to be slidin' on, leaves in the air.
Dolls to be caring for, love to be giving.
Dreams to be daring for, as long as you're living.
In my words: exaggerate, fantasize, embellish. Get messy, don't worry about your hair, skip. Draw outside the lines, sit in criss-cross applesauce, and eat lots of chocolate.
Don't ever forget to feel the glory of a sunny day, the majesty of love or the strength of kindness. Share your fun with others, remind your family, friends and teachers that a good, purposeful life doesn't exclude joy and laughter; it embraces them. And remind yourself that happiness can most easily be found in the simplest of things. That humor can make the responsibility of being an adult easier to assume. Keep the gift of your optimism and curiosity alive and well. For to remain curious and hopeful is to never grow old.
Most importantly, as you continue to make your wonderful way in the world with youthful exuberance, remember always how much I love you. Know that every waking moment of the day your proud mom has a heart filled with love and joy and unyielding admiration for the beautiful soul you have already become and for the beautiful joys you bring to the world, today and always.