Today is my daughter’s 16th birthday, can you believe it?  I can’t!  How is it that 16 years could come and go in the blink of an eye? How is it that just yesterday (or so it seemed) I was the size of a small, helium-filled blimp and now my daughter and I share shoes and hair secrets? I remember when Casey was born (we did not know the sex of the baby), my mother said, “Wow, a girl.. she’s like having a living, breathing baby doll.” And she was right.

When I held Casey for the first time, all those years ago, I thought, “Now what?” Truth be told, I was worried about having a girl because of the rocky teen years I had with my own folks. But here I was now, with the most precious baby girl with big eyes and perfect lips. I couldn’t mess it up now.

Well, I’m pleased to say, so far so good. Casey is an amazing child, well on her way to becoming an even more amazing woman. Though beautiful on the outside, it pales in comparison to what emanates from within. So here are the 5 things I learn from this kid every single day.


I’m so fortunate to have two kids who truly care for one another and at least one who is not afraid to show it. Casey’s always been demonstrative in her affection, much to the chagrin of her brother.  I think he secretly doesn’t mind and he knows she’ll always be there for him.



As a former teenage girl, I know how drama-filled the days can be so  I’ll never forget the day one of her counselors told me that Casey was “the peacemaker” among her group of friends. But I already knew that. Casey was born an “old soul”,  always wise and mature beyond her years. She doesn’t have time for teen drama (Thank GOD!). 


Beautiful, mature and responsible, a true winning combination! Casey is not the kind of kid you need to ride herd on (well, okay sometimes.. that darn room) and has always been something of a self-policer. Now, as she gets older, I’m seeing that responsibility extend into genuine concern and caring for those around her. She’s always on me to take care of myself and when I do get sick, she’s the one I can count on for meals and medicine.


I think this is would be the biggest thing I’ve learned from her this year. As many of you know, I’ve been through quite a bit over the last several years and one of my main concerns is that my children would be adversely affected. One day, Casey and I were on a walk and I confessed that fear to her. She told me something that made me realize what a special kid she was. She told me, “Mom, we’re not being hobbled by this experience; we’re learning from it.” Wow. Thanks…



A few weeks ago while I was in LA taping The Doctors, Casey suffered a bit of a disappointment. She was heartbroken and I tried to make it better (from 3,000 miles away). It was tough but the more spoke about it, the better she felt. Together we came up with a plan for her going forward and by the time I landed, she has bounced back to her old self. She shows me daily how to be resilient and why that matters.

Whoever said Sweet 16, must have had my darling daughter in mind.



More from GEM:

Raisin’ In Minnesota: A Dream Realized 

On Aisle 9: The Three Things My Special Needs Son Can Teach You About Life 

 Ask Rene: Should I Take Any Old Job?