Sweets for my sweet

By Mir
April 18, 2014

It happened again, last night… the inevitable pre-birthday sadness. This is the first year you tried to put it into words: It’s too big of a deal, too much pressure to be a happy day and too many eyes on you. You didn’t want it. Don’t want it.

“I look at the past year, the past three years, and… nothing’s changed,” you said, voice low as we lay on the floor of my office together, pretending to be starfish, because for some reason that made talking easier. “I’m still me. I haven’t fixed anything.”

“Of course you’re still you,” I said, trying to keep the alarm out of my voice. “That’s a GOOD thing! And things have changed. It’s just not changing as fast as you want.” I flung out my starfish arms and struck what I hoped was an evocative starfish pose, drawing a small smile as my reward.

I don’t write about you much anymore, kiddo. I want to. My fingers itch, sometimes, poised over the keyboard, desperate to share something wonderful or terrible so that someone will say, “Us, too!” This new habit of holding back (or writing, when I must, but not sharing) makes me feel a bit unmoored, sometimes, but it’s what we need.

Today, though, you’re 16, and I can’t stay silent. Because what I said to you last night as my voice cracked and the tears came was true and I need to say it again: When you were 13, I honestly didn’t know if we’d ever see this day. I was so terrified, all the time, that you could be gone by now. You may not feel like anything has changed or anything is worth celebrating, but you are still here, and I will celebrate that, whether you want to or not (so there).

You are tall and lovely and strong and hilarious and smart and tender and so brave. And you are tired—I know you are—of doing constant battle with yourself, and I know that from the inside looking out, it appears that no ground is ever gained (or it’s gained and then lost). I know it feels like a slow slog. It IS, in some ways, but you are doing hard work—the hardest, really; more than you should have to—and you ARE gaining skills and perspective and the ability to cope with more than you thought you could handle.

And: You are still here. And we need you.

You are still you, of course. You are still the girl who cried the night she turned 7. You still know exactly when I’m fantasizing about strangling you, just like when you turned 9. You are still the 10-year-old I predicted would be amazing because you already are, still welcome under my umbrella like when you turned 12, still the girl who ached at 14 and came back home to turn 15 and you still, yes, STILL leave your dirty socks on the floor and still make me laugh until it hurts and still you worry and you search and you laugh and you daydream and you plan and you eat ALL THE SUGAR and share your heart and tell tasteless jokes and you are utterly YOU and that is amazing. That’s everything.

I wish it was easier. For you, for all of us. It isn’t. Easy will never be an adjective you use, or that those who love you are apt to apply, but nothing that’s worth it is ever easy, kid.

You made it to 16. I can see your future again. I hope you can, too. Never easy, always worth it. I love you and your starfish arms and your “half a cat!” punchlines and how you insist on calling Duncan “Jerky McFacebiter” even as you rub his belly. You know, more than most, that love hurts. And you do it anyway. And that’s why you’re going to be okay.

Happy birthday, my sweet Chickadee. You have no idea how glad I am that you’re still you.

Love you love you love you,


  1. My Kids Mom

    Tears are a fine way to start one’s morning. Right?

  2. Amy

    Sheesh, I’ve already cried this morning reading another blog post. And now there’s tears in my eyes again. Happy Birthday Chickie! I hope your day is even half as amazing as you are! Now, go hug your mama for me!

  3. Mame

    Happy Birthday Chickie! Happy We’re Still Here Day Mir! Mame

  4. Cheyenna

    We are so happy you are you. Happy, happy birthday, Chickadee!!

  5. RuthWells


  6. Deb

    Happy birthday Chickie. I hope this day and every day forward, brings you something to smile and laugh about.

  7. Jodie

    Happy Birthday Chickie. You inspire us all – I’ll even kick life in th shin for you. Hugs to you and hugs to your mama

  8. caroline

    Happy birthday, Chickadee. It’s okay if you don’t enjoy it, life’s like that sometimes, but I hope you do. I hope you have a great day.

  9. Chickadee

    I love you <3 (((hugs))) thank you.

    And in case anyone was wondering, the joke is, "What's red and has two legs?…. HALF A CAT."

    (Also, what's red and green and goes 100 miles per hour?…. FROG IN A BLENDER)

    • Em

      Gross. I’m way too mature to laugh at that. No – I’m laughing at something totally different and very high brow. The milk coming out of my nose is nose milk of MATURITY. Different nose milk. Happy Birthday, Chickie! I remember reading your mom’s stories the first time and I am proud of you (for what that is worth coming from a stranger in your computer). I don’t know your whole story but I have always felt there were similarities between you and my daughter who is 12. Which is another reason I root for you and wish you great happiness. Enjoy your day and enjoy your successes. Next is a random 2 I cannot get my tablet’s cursor to get to the other side of in order to erase ->2.

    • Frank

      Cool birthday gift to Chickie from your mom’s Internet stalkers… that is, her FANS!…. a thread of bad jokes! Whaddya say everyone?….

      What did the fish say when he swam into a wall?
      – oh, DAM!

      Why does th eocean roar?
      – You would, too, if you had lobsters in your bed!

      Hope its a great day!

  10. Tenessa

    You’ve made me cry. Great joyful tears. Happy birthday, Chickie and to my own sweet girl, as well, who turns 9 today.

  11. Pictou

    I know this is the catch phrase for LGBT teens, but I want to tell all struggling teens–It gets better. It really does. Junior high and high school years are the worst.

    Peace to all of you.

  12. Karen R

    Happy Sweet Sixteen, Chickadee!

  13. Mary Fran

    A Happy Birthday knock-knock for you, Chickie!

    (Who’s there)
    Interrupting Cow

    Thank you for letting your Mom share what she can. She’s helping us all be better mothers. So my kids thank you, too! Have a wonderful day. Eat too much, laugh too much and just live in the moment!

  14. The Other Leanne

    Happy birthday, Chickadee…even if it doesn’t feel so, you have so much to celebrate. Take my guarantee that your stunning future is worth fighting for, and it will be worth it, and you *will* look around one day and say, “I have come a long way.”

  15. Pamela

    Happy birthday, Chickadee, from another person who’s never been described as easy. It sucks, but sometimes there’s chocolate.

  16. Genevieve

    To amazing and wonderful Chickadee, a very happy birthday. We are all happy you are you.
    to Mir, a very happy Chickadee’s 16th and here with you birthday hug.

  17. Kim T

    Happy birthday to Chickee. I have to say “us too”. My oldest turns 14 today and at the turning of 13 I didn’t know either if we’d see another birthday. Tentatively I’ll say that I expect more birthdays in our future, but as you know progress turns around and goes backward at the drop of a hat. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Chickee, but from what you’ve been able to share here, I think inch by inch it looks like she’s going to make it. Hang tough all of you. Celebrate.

  18. Crisanne

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! I hope you have a wonderful day. Give your Mom a hug. She really loves you more than you can even imagine.

    [What’s brown and sticky?

    A stick!]

    Mind blowing, right?

  19. Leslie

    Happy Birthday, Chickie!

    “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend….inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read…”

  20. Stacy

    Happy birthday, Chickie!

  21. Kate

    Happy birthday Chickadee!

    Q. Why do you never see hippopotami up in the trees?

    A. Because they are very, very good at hiding… :)

  22. kapgaf

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    Just consider yourself lucky that you don’t live in the land of smelly cheeses where people eat snails and frogs legs.

    What comes out of the ground shoulting “underpants! underpants! underpants!” ?
    Crude oil

    What’s black and dangerous and lives in a tree ?
    A crow with a machine gun

    Whatts is green, grows in the garden and has wheels ?
    Grass, I lied about the wheels

  23. Fabs

    You two are so lucky to have each other! Happy Birthday Chickadee! Thank you for your writing Mir, so beautiful.

  24. suburbancorrespondent

    Well said. Now don’t forget to take half an hour to sit by yourself and listen to this song and cry (if you feel like it). I find it very therapeutic sometimes.


  25. Nancy R

    Happy birthday Chickadee!

    Why does Tigger smell bad?

    Because he’s always playing with Poo(h).

  26. sally

    To mother and daughter – you don’t know me, and I’ve only read this one post, but I can tell you both from my own experiences – whatever it takes day by day, life is such a precious gift – live it – love it – be happy.

    God bless.

  27. Alison C

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  28. Jenn

    How do ducks learn to fly? They wing it.

    Happy Birthday!

  29. Joan

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! I hope her 16th year is an easier one for her.

  30. Rasselas

    Happy birthday, Chickie! You’re awesome and this is totally your day! :)

  31. Brigitte

    You are so amazing with the words, and you’re both so pretty! :-)

    One winter, my brother and I were walking along the railroad tracks, when we found . . . .
    half a cat! (the other half was about 20 feet further down)

  32. Jeanie

    A very happy birthday to you, Chickie. Sixteen is a very special age, and you are so loved! I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Just keep on keepin’ on. Now, please tell me about half a cat. Don’t tell my daughter, though; she loves cats.

  33. Stimey

    Happy birthday, Chickadee. I can read the love your mom has for you in her words. I can only imagine how strong it must be in person. However strong those words are, you are just as strong. Keep on keepin’ on, both of you.

  34. Mandy

    Happy 16th, Chickie!

    I am so glad you were born, and I am so glad you are still here.

    Hugs to everyone! <3

  35. momzen

    What do a grape and a chicken have in common?
    They’re both purple. Except for the chicken.

  36. JP

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    Why did the punk rocker cross the road?
    He was safety pinned to the chicken.

  37. Rocky Mountain Woman

    Sniff sniff….oh Chickie

    Sending a big virtual hug….

  38. Sharon

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Share some gluten-free cake with your mom because she is your biggest fan and advocate. She would do anything for you. Remember that because it comes with a lifetime guarantee. My daughter is 34 so I know of which I speak. Our daughters have our hearts and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Love and hugs to you both ~

  39. Lara

    Happy birthday Chickadee! I always find these birthday posts moving but this one took my breath away. Keep fighting! You’ve learned earlier than most Chickie that life is stinking hard. I channel Dory somedays “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” ;)

  40. Karen

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! – one of the gems of life is that we never stop changing, growing, learning, even when it feels like all is standing still. Sometimes it’s hard to see or feel those positive changes because we’re still looking at what isn’t as we perceive it should be. Just having been a reader on your mom’s blog here, I already know you are brilliant and witty, two tools many of us just don’t have. Don’t fret over what isn’t great, focus on the greatness in you and let it flourish. Easier said than done? Heck yeah. But so worthy of the effort, so don’t you ever give up or give in to the demons, and we all have some of those, they just come in all different forms. You Go Girl!… and Mir, Happy day to you as well.

  41. not supergirl

    Happy birthday, Chickadee, and happy Mom day, Mir.

    You’re both so tough and resilient. I hope you have joy on this day. Keep passing the open windows. (I read a lot of John Irving in my teens, and I think about passing the open windows all the time.)

    Much love (but totally not the creepy kind) from another internet stranger. Hut Hut Hike!

  42. HG

    Happy Birthday, Chickie!

  43. Chris

    Happy Birthday Chickie!!!

    I am lame enough I can’t come up with a lame joke but will ask my own special snowflakes if they have one (and they also make me laugh)

    You are loved, you are special and you will make it through this – and then the next challenge comes right up. But in between I wish you great friends and love from your family and that you appreciate the good moments.

    I still make my kids do three good things at the dinner table (not every night like we did when they were little but every once in a while) and my mantra is there is something good about any day. I hope you had a fabulous birthday

    When do you get to drive in Georgia? :)

  44. lAimee

    I am super-late to this party, but happy birthday, Chickadee! I’ve never met you, but I have so much admiration for your strength and all of the qualities that your mom talks about here. I am so glad you’re still here. Happy 16th.

  45. Corey

    No birthday pressure here (i missed it, yo). So I hope today is a great day!

  46. Jamie

    Happy, happy birthday to Chickadee!!

  47. Elizabeth

    Late to the party, but hope you had a wonderful birthday, and that in the balance, you have more good days than bad.

  48. Little Bird

    Happy Birthday Chickie!!!!
    I promise you, it TOTALLY gets better!

  49. TC


  50. Dawn

    It gets so much better, Chickadee. We stranger(than most)s of the Internet are glad you’re still here, too. Happy Birthday!

    What is the difference between a duck?
    One of its legs are both longer than the other.

  51. SJ

    Happy birthday!

    Why did Jimmy fall off the swing? Because he had no arms or legs.

    Knock, knock.
    Who’s There?
    Not Jimmy.

  52. addy

    what did the mama tomato say to the baby tomato lagging in the back of the line of all its siblings?

    Yup it really said that. Happy Birthday Chickie! Hope it was Good.

  53. Jen

    You have a lot of people cheering for you, Chickie. It’s hard to believe, even harder to remember. Happy birthday hon.

  54. Jenny

    Happy, happy, happy birthday Chickadee!!!

  55. Kailani

    Chickie ~ Happy, happy belated Birthday! I’m so glad you’re here! I’ve read every birthday post for *years* and I feel like I’ve watched you grow up! I love your incredible you-ness… Quirky and spunky and funny and loving and smart and sarcastic and silly and strong and thoughtful and kind. You are a survivor. You are loved!

    Mir ~ Happy, happy belated giving-birth day! Enjoy the day you became a Mama. You’re the best one you could possibly be!


  56. Angela

    Happy birthday! I agree with the one who said that jr high and high school are the worst…I had some good times there, but life really looks up after you graduate!
    Here’s one from Willie Nelson:
    “Time flies like an arrow.
    Fruit flies like a banana. ”
    Haha!! :-)

  57. liz

    Happy, happy birthday, wonderful Chickie! And happy Chickie birthday to you, Mir and Otto and Monkey!

  58. Daisy

    Sixteen – wow. She’s a survivor, a strong young woman. She has a great role model. {{hugs}} to both of you.

  59. Angela Stone

    Happy late birthday sweet girl! We may be crazy stalkers but we do care for you. I’m rooting for you 100%!

  60. mamalang

    Someday, when she is on the other side, I hope she re-reads these posts and knows how very deeply she was (and still is of course) loved. And I hope she has a moment of how great the world really is when she realizes how many people cared and rooted for her.

    Happy sixteen. And many, many, many more days.

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