I’ve waited my whole life for the moment I could carry on a 13th birthday tradition with my daughter.
Well, my whole life minus 13 years.
When I turned 13 my mom gave me a Black Hills Gold ring.
This may not seem significant to you, but to 13-year-old me back at the start of the 1990s, this was HUGE. It was a rite of passage to receive my first piece of real jewelry. A ring that didn’t have an adjustable band! I felt so grown up.
That ring was probably the most expensive thing I owned at the time and that’s saying something because it’s not an expensive ring. Plus, I hadn’t got my first boombox yet.
Other than that particular ring from my mom, I am not overly excited about Black Hills Gold. In fact, I don’t own any other Blacks Hills Gold jewelry.
However, this particular ring is unique, understated, and feminine. Clearly, for me, it holds significant sentimental value.
One time, when I was still living with my parents, I accidentally threw the ring in the trash. I had been cleaning my room and the ring was tucked in a ring box that I presumed was empty.
Now is the part of the story where I remind you that I grew up on a farm out in the country. We didn’t have garbage service. Why in the world would we have a garbage company collect our garbage when my dad could just burn it in a 50-gallon burn barrel for free?
One of you is gasping right now and it’s a coin toss for me if that’s because mature Teenage Me accidentally threw my ring away or because we burned our garbage.
The burn barrel situation actually turned out to be a blessing. If the garbage company had taken my ring, it would have been gone forever. At least with the burn barrel, there was a chance I could recover my ring.
I still remember feeling sick to my stomach that I might have lost my ring. After several tense minutes of sifting through ashes, I was elated and relieved to have found the ring inside the charred, misshapen ring box. I had to clean the soot off the ring, but the box had protected the ring from any lasting damage.
My 13th birthday ring has literally been through fire and survived.
I wore that ring for some of my most important young adult milestones: getting my driver’s license, first kiss, first heartbreak, moving away from home, high school and college graduation, getting engaged, etc.
Once Handy Husband started buying me jewelry, I wore the ring less regularly, but it still makes an occasional appearance on my hand.
I have thought about passing down my ring to my daughter as a continuation of this 13th birthday tradition for decades. Before she was even born I thought about passing this ring down to her.
This week I finally get to do it.
I don’t know if she’ll like the ring or even wear it.
That’s not important to me.
All I will ask of her is that she keeps it safe. (Preferably safer than Teenage Me kept it.)
Now is the part of this blog post where I pause to tell you I haven’t even got to the hard part of this story and I’ve already cried twice just thinking about what this 13th birthday tradition means to me.
Bear with me.
I’m continuing the 13th birthday tradition of passing down a ring to my daughter in the hopes that she will pass it down to her daughter on her 13th birthday and so on through subsequent generations.
Perhaps this will be a tangible thread of connection between generations of mothers and daughters. A reminder that this rite of passage into the teenage years has been shared by many before and will be shared by many after. That the child wearing the ring is one vital part of a dynamic lineage.
It is hard for me to articulate how even the idea of this tradition overwhelms my soul with a rush of tender-filled emotion.
I do this knowing full well that I may not be there to see this ring handed down to my granddaughter.
That’s the part that guts me. That’s the part that has me crying on this keyboard. That’s the part of this story that I don’t want to miss.
I don’t have plans of going anywhere, but I know the drumbeat of my life is finite.
My own mom died suddenly. She never met my daughter. She is not here to witness this ring being passed down to the next generation.
I’ve navigated the arc of motherhood without her, so that’s why this heaviness regarding the fragility of life is on my mind today.
But as I have done with every other milestone in my daughter’s life, I tuck that emotion to the side to be examined and experienced in quiet. That’s my burden to bear, not hers.
All she needs to do is be a kid.
Thankfully, the emotion that always rises to the surface and pushes away any darkness in my mind is love.
My mother loved me with every ounce of her being. Of that I have no doubt.
In turn, my heart overflows with love for my child, this soon-to-be teenager. I am bursting with excitement to celebrate her 13th birthday. I am happy beyond belief to be here to pass this ring down to her.
While I hope she always feels my love for her embedded on every fiber of her being, she’ll also have a physical representation of the love of her grandma and her mom to carry her through all the beautiful milestones yet to come.
I need to go get a tissue, but if you’d like to keep reading, here are some other posts about traditions you might enjoy.