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For my daughter, on her 18th birthday

By Cathy S. Babao-Guballa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:08:00 01/24/2009

Filed Under: Family, People, Lifestyle & Leisure


I write this in the quiet of an early Tuesday morning while the house is still and you lie in slumber. All around me as I tap away on the laptop are various photographs of you through the years.

I cannot believe how time has flown so quickly! It?s as if I had just turned around and 18 years had gone by.

I can fully relate to that scene in ?Father of the Bride? where Steve Martin looks at his daughter, all grown up, but instead sees her as a precocious five-year-old. To this day I remember the nights you would not let us sleep until the sun peeped over the horizon because you were such a colicky baby! Or the times I picked you up from school and we would hie off to the bookstore and spend hours and hours just reading.

And tomorrow, you turn 18.

I have moments of self-doubt?if I have done right by my children.

Some of those apprehensions were addressed the other night as you crawled underneath the covers and lay beside me just like you used to when you were a little girl. As we reminisced about your colorful and sometimes wacky childhood, my heart was filled with peace.

You cannot begin to understand what a relief it was for me to know that you have so many warm, happy and fuzzy memories of the last 18 years to take with you wherever you go. I am grateful that we had a lot of time to spend together in those crucial and formative growing up years. Years we can never bring back.

My heart overflows with contentment in knowing that we have given you a treasure trove of memories.

Yesterday, someone asked me if I also went through the turbulent teen years with you. I told her that just wasn?t the case. She paused and said I was one blessed mama.

Right then and there, I thanked the Lord for having been with us all those years, for filling you with His grace, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, for never giving us grief in your teen years.

I cannot begin to thank the Lord enough for blessing us with such a wonderful, sensitive and responsible daughter. You, and your brothers, have been our greatest blessings. The last few weeks have been pretty ?emo? for me, realizing you are now almost 18, soon to enter college and how, in maybe a decade or so, you will start building a life of your own.

One morning in the car, after Leo and I dropped you off in school, I began to tear up as it dawned on me how this would be the last few months when you and he would be riding together in the mornings. After 14 years of driving through the same route, with the same passengers. Then again, it could have been my hormones, too.

Letting go has always been very difficult for me. But by God?s grace, I know that when the time comes for us to do so, He will give us the strength we need. For now, you have a whole new adventure ahead, and I am really excited! Remember we are always here to love and support you as you pursue your dreams and life?s mission.

Thank you for being such a good daughter and a wonderful sister to your brothers. I hope you realize and value the importance of love, of home and of always being there for one another. We will have our ?off? days and our misunderstandings, but I pray and trust that when those days come, as they do, with God?s help, we will always find a way to mend, heal and forgive one another.

I am so proud of what you have become, how you have worked so hard to get to where you are. Now, more than ever, you will need to seek the Lord?s guidance as you embark on this new phase.

Consult the Lord and let him take the wheel, like that favorite song of yours goes. You will never go wrong when you allow Him to steer your course and be in His flow. Be it in the area of work, family or relationships?pray for guidance always so that it will be easy and you, in doing so, spare yourself from major heartbreak.

He has imbued you with an extraordinary mind, a generous heart, discernment and kindness. Use these gifts to lift others and to be of service to everyone around you.

God is faithful, and I?d like to think that in His goodness and wisdom He has put in you the best that is of me and daddy. May you always remain grounded and constantly guard your heart. Remain humble and steadfast and sensible.

I love you very much and thank the Lord for the gift of you. Not only are you my only daughter, but now that you are grown, you have become the best friend of my heart as well.

But like my mother, no matter how old you are, you will always be my child, and I will be there for you, no matter what.

Happy, blessed birthday!

Love, hugs and prayers always,

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