Dearest Logan and Quinn,
I missed writing you a birthday post last year and since you are turning 18 this year and moving on, this will most likely be my last birthday post. Aren’t you relieved?! After this year we will no longer be under the same roof where I can track your daily rhythms. As much as this thought makes me break out in a cold sweat, it is also what dad and I have been preparing you, and us, for these past 18 years. Giving you roots and wings has been our goal, and I am totally taking this moment right now to pat ourselves on the back because HOLY SHIT, you guys are ready to soar!
Dad and I were talking about all the moments and decision points these past few years that have allowed you the opportunities you now enjoy. Who knew that when we first stepped foot on French soil that Logan would end up returning to France to study at Science Po! Who knew that years of internalizing the traditions presented in Harry Potter that Quinn would go on to study science at University of Toronto and be part of the collegiate structure similar to Oxford University! It turns out that seemingly inconsequential moments and pursuits can actually shape the course of one’s life.
If we rewind the tape to just five years ago it was because we first vacationed in Paris before visiting family in England that planted the seed to return to Paris the following year for an extended stay. It was because we hit the pause button on our life while in Paris that allowed us to think beyond our borders and consider moving to Canada. It was because we had the good fortune of dad’s Canadian citizenship that allowed us to actually move to Canada. It was because you two were always industrious and curious students that you were able to test into the IB program in Vancouver. It was because you were nurtured and educated in such a quality manner that you were able to apply and be accepted into some of the most rigorous post-secondary institutions in the world. Wow.
What has been really interesting to me is to see you settle into your young-adult selves. Some of your patterns and behaviours are such clear reflections of me and dad that I am often dumbstruck. When people talk about reincarnation, I think it has to do with seeing versions of yourself in your offspring. Seeing ourselves reflected in you has given us the opportunity to provide guidance and perspective so that you can take our thorny parts and soften their edges. Amazingly, you’ve both been open to hearing what we have to say. What you ultimately do with the information is entirely up to you, but you can’t say we didn’t warn you!
What comforts us, as you are about to embark on the next exciting phase of your lives, is that you have a variety of tools at your ready to cope with whatever the world decides to throw at you. The hardest part as a parent is no longer being able to stand in between you and the stings and bitter disappointments of life. I now understand the Homeric metaphor of lashing oneself to the mast to avoid being seduced by the siren’s song. As your mum I sometimes felt as if I had to be lashed to a pole so as to not interfere with you experiencing some of the painful realities of life. Part of growing up and learning how to cope is to feel life’s arrows being directed your way. Let me just say right now that this part of parenting SUCKS, but it is necessary if you are to develop into autonomous individuals. In all honesty, you’ve only sipped at the cup of disappointment. Perhaps you’ll be fortunate and be spared too much hurt and pain, but remember that beauty is found in contrasts and without the shadows you wouldn’t see the light. I think every parent’s wish is for their children to be safeguarded from the jabs and pokes, but it would be unfair to you to try and protect you from the ugly truths of walking as a human in this world. Sometimes there is no explanation for the ugly sides of our species. You can do all the right things and it doesn’t matter at all if your security is jeopardized. We are truly privileged and blessed to not know the horrors of living in a war-torn country or to be an oppressed people. May you always remember your privilege and work to better the position of others. Remember that you don’t have to look far. While your work with your charity helping school girls in India is commendable there are plenty of people who live close by who suffer institutional injustices. I know you know this, but I am cramming in every last bit of advice while I still have you near!
Being a parent is the surest way to better understand your own parents. Most parents will find themselves repeating things their own parents said and this will either make you smile or cringe, or both. I’d have to say that as you get ready to move out on your own I now totally get why my parents are always so keen on bringing the family back together. I already feel this way with you two and you haven’t even moved out yet! Please just indulge us as the years tick by and we beg you to come home for the holidays. I’ll do my best not to embarrass you!
The bottom line is that dad and I couldn’t be prouder of who you two are. While it’s easy to boast about all your academic accomplishments and extracurricular pursuits, what we are most proud of is your integrity and kind-hearted spirits. You are principled, kind, honest, giving, open, caring, loving, and good-natured. These are the qualities that truly matter. While it’s great to be well-educated and have connections, if you’re a jerk, you’ll end up lonely and bitter. What ultimately matters in the end is the quality of your relationships as these will see you through the hard times. It sounds so cliché and it really does take a long while to truly understand, but in the end it isn’t about money or fame or titles, but about our connections with others and the ability to love.
Happy, happy, happy, happy 18th birthday my darlings. You have been given roots and wings, it’s time to fly. We love you more than is possible to measure and remain your biggest fans.