Dear 9 year old Stephanie,
Today is our birthday! It’s your ninth in the year 1994, and my 29th in 2014. I know that this is a big birthday for you since it is our golden birthday but also the last year in the single digits!
Seeing as I have 20 years of “Stephanie” life on you, I thought I would give you some birthday advice as you grow a little year older.
You are about to end 3rd grade. The next two years of school happen to be your favorite. While we have always wanted to be a teacher, Mrs. Daily and Mrs. Absher inspire you to become an elementary school teacher down the road. They were some of the best educators we have ever had. You will go back for years to visit and even volunteer for Mrs. Absher in high school. I will tell you that at 29, we are still in education, but our teaching is not happening in an elementary school. We spent one semester as an elementary major before we changed to high school, which is still not what we are doing. But I will let you figure that out as we go. That journey is a pretty good one, so I won’t spoil it.
Speaking of what we want to do, college is already on your mind, which is good. You are smart. To our detriment at times, we put really high standards on ourselves to be perfect. There are times that we could have relaxed when it came to school things, but we both know that is not how we work. And from me to you, that hard work pays off in the end. We graduated high school with a 4.0, and were able to pay for two complete college degrees all with scholarships because of that hard work and dedication. I am pretty thankful now to have zero debt because of that determination. We are taking our time to relax now, don’t you worry. We may have only applied to one school for college, but in the end it was the best decision because your life changed for the better because of that choice. Your change of career path was a good thing that was all made because of experiences during college. You met some of the most influential people there, and I would like to think that decision led you to your future husband.
At 9, I know we saw our life at my age to be a glorious one. We would be married with two kids and a career in teaching. We would not be married to a cop that is for sure, but probably another teacher, because that is how our parents did it. I will just say that life is all about the unexpected, so don’t get dead set on really anything. None of it happens the way we planned, but that is part of the fun.
Career wise, I would say we are not in a place that we ever imagined. While we don’t regret ANY of the decisions that we made to get to this place, we just had hoped for different circumstances that are way beyond our control. There are some good and bad days, and there are a lot of days that you will feel completely helpless and alone. I would say keep on trucking with our positive attitude, because in the end we can only affect our own reaction to what is put in front of us. We are however learning a lot. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and I just know that our career is going to be making some very positive changes here soon. Our career may not have been the priority recently and we aren’t in a position of our dreams, God had other reasons for us to be here right now. Eventually you will see that, so just breathe and let the worry go, you perfectionist. Take every opportunity to learn and grow because you never know what doors it may open or what God is trying to put on your heart. And always trust that God will provide. Always.
There are going to be some rough times ahead in school. In the next year alone, there will be a week that you come down with poison ivy ALL OVER your body, and it also happens to coincide with the week we do square dancing in gym class. You think that you are living out a real life Oregon Trail moment because no one will pick you to be your partner, and you feel left behind. Trust me, I doubt that most people even remember you look like something out of a horror film. You get past it. Also we have not had poison ivy since. So there’s that.
Sorry to break it to you, but you will never be popular. I think we are just too quiet for that, plus we never really liked the spotlight anyway. There are days that you spend hours crying over the fact that we aren’t cool. I wish I could say don’t do that, but I think it always hurts no matter the age to not feel wanted. You get picked on for being a nerd until you graduate high school. I won’t lie that there are some awful days, which fortunately worked out for us because it only fueled you to study more and work harder to move away to college. And college became a great escape from high school because there was only 6 from our graduating class that attended our school. So just keep on trucking, it gets better.
More on friends though, while you may look at the popular kids and want what they have, you are surrounded by some of the greatest friends. You were in a good group, who happened to be just as nerdy as you. So it worked out for you in the end. In the fourth grade, you meet a boy that you hate in elementary school. He seems like the meanest kid to you because he calls you “Sassafras.” (It’s no wonder we were in the nerd crowd.) To your surprise though, eventually you all become very close, and he was one of your best friends in high school. So cool your jets on this kid.
Even at 9 years old, which is five years after Mom and Dad got divorced, it is still sometimes hard to live the double life with both parents. But try to look at the positives you gain from it: double the holidays which means double the food, double the love, double the experience from different lifestyles. Your parents love you, and only want what is the best for you. There are days we don’t treat them the greatest because we feel like we have something to prove. It takes us a long time to tell them I am sorry, which is something I wish I could change. Just make sure to try to include them the best that you can. The path we choose is to not live near our family, so enjoy this time you have with them now because there is a long stretch that there are hours and states that separate you. And plus you have a lot to learn from our parents because here on our 29th birthday, I sit here anxiously awaiting to become a parent myself in 4 months.
Not only is your time limited with them, but our grandparents as well. Luckily our career choice in education eventually take us to South Carolina which is where Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Christmas live. You get to spend two years practically in the same town. Take the time to eat meals with them (no matter how many times they insist on taking you to the Western Sizzler) because soon after you graduate they will no longer be with us. So cherish that time you have with them because it is something that becomes very dear to you. And your grandparents in KC, visit them as often as you can because they are just the best role models of a loving couple and human beings. And as I said, we soon move far away and are not able to see them quite as often as you do now.
And as for Randall, you are getting to the point where he is probably becoming more obnoxious than cute little brother. I know that he comes and takes things from your room or does other little boy things to you, but trust me, he is not as bad as he gets the rap for (which lets be honest comes mostly from us…). Give him a break. And surprise, he becomes a parent before you do!
I mentioned earlier that you meet your husband in college. At 9, I know you are wanting to know what sort of fairy tale story got us to our knight in shining armor. First, you must know that there are a lot of other boys who came first. (Ok not a lot a lot, but a few.) Some of those relationships will be devastating. There are a couple boys that you thought at the time you would never get over. When we fall in love, we fall in love hard. Remember to be who you are, and never change your ambitions to fit that of someone else. There are some relationships that you go into hastily just because you want to be loved. I promise you that if you are patient, love will find you. I will also say that it will be by someone who blindsides you. So don’t go for the obvious, find someone who will challenge you every day, but also someone who supports you completely. Also humor is important. Your future husband is one of the funniest people you will ever meet. Basically he is a dreamboat, so again just be ready for the unexpected. Love is a great thing. You will experience all the ups and downs and variations of love before you happen upon your great love. So just remember that a guy doesn’t make you who you are, you do. So just move past each crushing break up and remember who you want to be. (Also, you break some hearts too if that helps your confidence any. But now that I think about it, generally, we took these hard too because we are people pleasers…)
All in all, you have a fun life ahead. There are going to be some really high highs, and some really low lows. Always remember to believe in yourself and be good to others. Although, don’t worry too much about being a perfectionist and what others think of you because it can become a burden more than a blessing, and there are times that you may lose sight of who you are.
Continue writing thank you notes and creating things. That peach crochet blanket that you have been struggling with for 2 years…yea crochet becomes quite the hobby for you someday. Also, most of the art in your house will be homemade, which your husband and I think is pretty swell. Continue reading as much as you can. Stories are your escape in so many ways. Anne of Green Gables never gets old so read and watch it as much and as often as you can. You will always be a bookwork. Keep on asking for the American Girl doll and books. I know it seems like the parents aren’t listening, but eventually, you get to hold one of those dolls as your very own. And yes, we still have her and all her accessories almost 20 years later.
In the end, count your blessings and thank God every day. Focus on the things that matter and enjoy each moment to the fullest. Trust that God has a plan for you, and just keep moving forward and laugh a lot. Smiling generally makes things better.
And if all of this didn’t get you excited about the next 20 years, at least you have this to look forward to next year…
Now go enjoy some of our favorite ice cream cake (the one with the extra ice cream cones on the top) and get ready for the traditional Glinn rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which by the way has not stopped to this day.
All the best,
29 year old Stephanie