01/23/2015 03:38 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2015

A Birthday Message to My 14-Year-Old Daughter

Kristen Daukas

Dear Mackenzie,

Today is your 14th birthday, and the only reason that I can write this post is because I know that you never come over to this part of the woods. I can't believe that 14 years ago, you came into this world and immediately changed everything that I knew to be good and replaced it with something amazing.

I know that we are getting to the point of our relationship where things aren't always great. You're trying to figure out your place in the world and I know that pretty soon, that place will be without me. That makes me sad, but I know that it's the way life is. I did it with my parents and they did it with theirs. Every teenager thinks that they are the first person to go through the crazy turmoil of the teen years, but trust me -- it's nothing to new to parents. There may be new gadgets, but the struggles are the same.

I want to always keep our communication open, but never want to step on your toes. I watch what you do and say and try to only interject opinion if I see you are really struggling with what to do. But that's not very often. It seems that somehow, the lessons and "speeches" that I've repeated over the past few years actually snuck in! I'm proud how you stand up for what you believe in even if it's not the "popular" thing to do.

Middle school is not an easy time and we've been through some tough situations dealing with some of the mind games that happen between girls. You know firsthand that girls are mean. They don't fight fair and they say nasty things when they feel threatened or intimidated. I've watched your heart get broken time and again when the people you thought were you friends turned their backs on you, spreading rumors and trying to get your other friends to do the same. And each time you held your head high and grew stronger. You learned to fight back and not take it personally -- realizing that stooping to their level would only make you as bad as them.

You are such an amazing young lady -- almost as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. I have watched your self-confidence explode this year and it makes me chuckle to watch you with your "swagger." I wish I could give you (and your sisters!) all the treasures in the world, and I appreciate your understanding when I can't. I hope that the memories and traditions that we're building as a family will be what you remember many years from now because those are what's most important in life.

No matter how much you fight with your sisters, I know that when we're not around, you protect them like they're you're own and your dad and I appreciate that. I have always said that I can take a lot at home, but the true test is how our kids act when we're not around and you and your sisters always rise to the occasion and make us proud. Maybe that's why I get so frustrated when the three of you fight like cats and dogs -- I just want to catch a little bit of what I know to be true when we're not around!

I love the fact that I still get to catch glimpses of you as a little girl when you get excited over things. Sometimes I'm jealous of the secret giggles that you share with your friends -- especially when I ask what's so funny and get that look that teenagers are so good at giving. But I try not to take it personally and remember that I gave my own mother the very same look when she asked the same question. Nothing makes me happier than when we get to share some one on one time and can just wander through our day. If I haven't mentioned how excited I am for Woods of Terror this weekend, I really am. How many mother/daughter teams get to do hair and makeup like that?!

I hope your day at school tomorrow is awesome, your friends lavish tons of attention on you and that this year brings you more than you could ever wish for -- you of all people deserve it.

I love you sweet Little Red -- you will never know just how much I do. I am clinging on to these next few years like you won't believe. Please have patience with me and try not to think I'm smothering you... I just know that the next four years are going to fly by and soon I'll watch you walk out that door to start your own life with me still cheering in the background.

Happy Birthday, baby. I love you to the moon and back!