Momma Told Me: A Letter To The Teen In My Life: #YoplaitGoBig

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A Letter To The Teen In My Life: #YoplaitGoBig
Momma Told Me: You're half baked, time to watch you rise.

My teenage years were arguably the most awkward- aren't they for everyone?

Personally, I began high school at 12, and consequently, entered my teens among peers who already had a few years experience handling what it really meant to be a teenager. I might have been a fledgling among experts but I distinctly recall how quickly I caught on to the keystones of teenage-hood; sharp tongues and attitude, fierce independence, and entitled superiority. Since that sounds more like a dictator, than someone's child, it's easy to see why teens get a bad wrap. But, truth is, the teen years are still some of the most magical years for a parent or guardian. Momma liked to call me 'half baked'- she'd say "most of the hard work is done, now I can watch my hard work rise and truly define itself."
As you all know I don't have children of my own, yet. I do, however, have a very special teenage niece, Sabrina. When she was 9 her mother moved across the street, and I began bonding with an otherwise stranger. Sure, I was 'Aunt Jenna' but who was I aside from another adult in her mother's life?

Sabrina was extremely shy when I met her, but I quickly learned her shyness was only a cover for her intelligent quirkiness, and a secret passion for heavy metal (taught in her younger years by her uncle.) It's hard to believe the very first photo I took of her for this blog is that young girl with the round rosy cheeks, holding that plus panda blanket.
(She's got the teenage look down, right?)

It's even harder to think how the afternoons after school, and the Summer vacations turned into road trips and girls nights out. I became a mentor, and gained something priceless in a relationship I couldn't imagine not having in my life. And, I'll admit, both her mother and I dreaded the swap from tween to teen- where had the baby girl disappeared to so quickly? But, a she's moved, and taken on a whole new set of challenges, learned how to play an instrument, and joined a volleyball team, there is no limit to the surprises Sabrina the teenager has in store. And we couldn't be more proud.
Recently Yoplait Go Big, the new Grip And Rip real yogurt product from Yoplait, challenged me to write a letter and share what makes the teenager in my life so amazing. I didn't hesitate at the challenge- it's actually something I've been wanting to do since Sabrina and her (military) family were relocated last year. So I sent my sister to her local Walmart, where Sabrina was excited to see the new Yoplait product, designed just for active teens like her, and I sat down to write a letter that flowed quite easy.
One of the things that has always inspired me when it comes to Sabrina, especially in the past 2 years as a teenager, is her ability to love, and give to her family. For over a decade Sabrina was not only the only child, but she was 1/2 of her family unit- her and her mother 'against the world' as they say. Then, a few years back her mother met the man of her dreams, but he didn't come alone- he brought 2 amazing children with him. And, all of a sudden, Sabrina was not only sharing her mother and home with 1 person, but 3.

Sabrina never looked at her mothers' prince charming as a threat- she never rebelled with jealously. In an act that I feel would have been quite hard for me to do at her age, she opened her heart to all 3 of them, and embraced her new family. A single child became a big sister almost over night, and she truly shone in the role- then came Nathan, a brand new baby brother, demanding everyone's love, patience and time, and Sabrina amazed me yet again. Here's an except from my letter to Sabrina:

"Brina, to say that you have become a young woman is about as cliche as it gets- but my heart truly swells at the vision of you over the past few years. Once an independent, smart, fierce young girl living alone with her mother- one might have thought that was the biggest challenge. But, in truth, the way you have opened your home, and your heart, to a family that loves you so equally in exchange is in my eyes one of your biggest accomplishments.

As much as you fuss about what music is playing, or how your makeup looks, I know it's titles like "Cory's daughter" and "Nathan's big sister" that truly define you. As a teenage you are asked to fulfill so many roles, athlete, student, individual- but its' your resolve to the roles within your family that truly inspire me, and emphasizes your transition to a young woman."
Aside from her voluntary commitment to her family, Sabrina takes on a myriad of extra-curriculars, as so many teens these days do. I know it's a  bittersweet victory for her mother- watching her take on so many goals an responsibilities at the expense of always having to be here or there. And, sometimes Sabrina arrives home so exhausted she'd rather not even peel out of a dirty uniform before sinking into bed. It's days like these where we especially appreciate the finer quirks that make our Sabrina, Sabrina.
Here's an excerpt from my letter where I express how Sabrina's personality inspires me:

"Sabrina, you're far from a constant ray of sunshine- so much for an inspiring letter, huh? But let's be real, I still remember waking you up from an after school nap and wondering who fed the Gremlins after midnight. NEVER wake Sabrina from her slumber!

But, I digress, if I had a dollar for every time you turned a downright rotten day into a more tolerable one, I'd be buying us both front row Bruno Mars tickets. Ha! One of my favorite memories still has to the return drive from Universal Studios where you remixed a Taylor Swift song so much I literally peed myself a little. Your unique perspective and witty outlook has always offered a fresh view to even the most mundane of situations. There's never a dull day when you're around, and you'll always be the life of my party."
Teenagers are complicated creatures because they are constantly growing- they literally never stay in one place long enough to put your finger on them. The children we raise and love are suddenly their own human beings, yet still so reliant on those they look up to, and so impressionable in who they will and want to be. It may feel like things often go 'in one ear and out the other'-  but the most important thing we can do for the next generation is show them we're watching, and tell them how proud we truly are.

I bet your teen is amazing too. Why not let Go Big spotlight that amazingness? For a chance to win the spotlight for your teen, go to the Go Big Amazing Teens contest page and share how your teen inspires you. Go Big will select three teens with amazing stories and give them a platform to show the world, in addition to a $3000 cash prize! For more information, full contest rules can be found on the Go Big Facebook Page.

What Daughter Says: The teenage years are definitely years worth watching.


  1. I love this post! I think too often that we parents forget to tell our children just how amazing they are. Never take their amazing spirits and talents for granted!

  2. It sounds like you are a wonderful Aunt! I wish I could know my nieces this well but they live on the other side of the country. I am scared for the teenage years with my son but I know there will be great with the hard all at the same time.

  3. This is great. It's like GoGurt but you don't have to eat more than one. Plus it looks to have better ingredients. I will have to pick f=some up for the hubby's lunches.

  4. My how time does fly. I can remember when my daughter was that young. It seems only yesterday that I was sending her off to school daily.

  5. Sabrina is beautiful! She's lucky to have an aunt like you. :)

  6. I love that saying "You are half baked now I can watch you rise". Yoplait Go Big looks like the perfect serving of delicious yogurt.

  7. I love watching my girls become the smart and caring young women they are. I will have to pick up some Yoplait Go Big for lunches.

  8. Being an aunt is a truly wonderful blessing. I have two nieces so this post really touched me! Sounds to me like you're a great auntie!

  9. They grow up way too fast. I love your letter to your niece. You can tell you have a special bond with her. My daughter will be turning 18 next month and I am so proud of the young woman she has become.

  10. Time does fly. I can remember when my son younger. It seems only yesterday, now he's becoming a young man! Enjoy your time with her!

  11. I remember seeing these at the store! I've been wanting to try them. Love this post tribute to your niece.

  12. You're such a sweet aunt! Teens really grow up so fast! Love that you shared this with us! Thanks so much!

  13. Watching children grow into their teenage years is such a blessing. You are such a great aunt and I know your bond will just grow stronger.

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