I didn't carry you in my belly for 9 months. I didn't give birth to you, and I didn't witness your first tooth or your first steps. I missed your first few birthday parties and I didn't hear what your first word was. I didn't rock you to sleep or make you bottles. But here's what I did do; I chose to love you as my baby anyway. I fell in love with your daddy and I signed up for this crazy ride of being a stepparent. Since then, I've thrown your birthday parties. I've kissed your boo-boos and read you bedtime stories. I've done my best to teach you right from wrong. I've watched you grow, and learn. I may not be your mom, but you will always be my daughter.
I hope to show you that you don't have to put out someone else's light to make your own shine brighter; that strong women don't compete. I hope one day you understand that beyond any grown-up issues, you were always unconditionally loved. I hope I can share my experiences with you and that you will grow into a young woman who understands life isn't perfect and families aren't always cookie cutter, things get messy. I hope you come to me when you're frustrated and I hope I can always be there to help, when you want me to be. I hope I can be a good example to you, even though I'm still learning myself.
Lastly, I'm excited for the firsts that I do get to share with you. Soon, I will watch you go to your first day of kindergarten. I will be there when you lose your first tooth. I can't wait to meet your first best friend. I get to watch you start middle school, and get your first crush. I will help you learn how to drive, no matter how stressful that may be. I will be there when you graduate high school, and I will be so proud of you. I already am. I may have missed some things, but I'm so honored to be a part of your life and watch you grow. This journey gets tough sometimes, but I wouldn't have things any other way.