In 2012 I started a parenting blog, Franglaise Mummy, (which I’ve since retired) and in 2013 I decided to write a birthday letter to my daughters for their 1st and 7th birthdays. I continued that tradition every year, and although that doesn’t really fit with this blog I don’t want to stop it! So here is my open letter to my eldest daughter, Léna, on her 11th birthday (you can read the other open letters here: 7th birthday, 8th birthday, 9th birthday, 10th birthday):

Dear Léna,

I had to stop and check myself as I wrote the title of this “my 11 year old daughter” because how on earth did that happen?!? Somehow my little baby is already 11 and is getting ready to go to secondary school in January. Where has the time flown?

Newborn baby vs 11 year old swimming with dolphins :
Léna a few hours old on the left. Léna 11 years old, swimming with dolphins in the wild on her birthday, on the right.

You have had such an incredible year – your last one at primary school, and I couldn’t be prouder of you 🙂

This year you went on your first stay-away school trip, which saw you take an aeroplane with your classmates and teachers and head to neighbouring island, Rodrigues. You had the most amazing time and formed some great friendships. And you developed your independence which you seem to have been born with.

Then later on in the year we headed off on our mammoth 2 month trip visiting friends and family in Europe. You could have played the pre-teen card and complained about the hours spent in the car, the sharing of rooms and beds with your little sister and the “boring” bits you didn’t want to do. But “most” of the time you joined in and made it a family holiday to remember!

Whilst in Europe you found out from school that you needed to send a video of you singing if you wanted to be considered for that year’s show. From the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, UK to our hotel in Reims, France you practised singing “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.

When we arrived at our hotel I quickly filmed you singing it in the hotel bathroom. You were nervous, and had huge doubts. You were convinced you were no good. You were embarrassed. You were afraid. But Daddy and I told you that you would never achieve anything if you didn’t overcome your fears.

So you sang and we sent the video to your drama teacher.

A week later we found out you’d been chosen for a lead role and you learnt a valuable lesson: we can doubt ourselves and be afraid, but if we bite the bullet, and put ourselves out there, great things can happen.

A few months later you performed on stage at school, in front of a 1000 strong crowd and you were incredible. You were so sure of yourself and did so well. Yet more proud mummy moments for me.

I only had a few weeks to wipe away those happy mummy tears before they flowed again at another school event: your graduation.

As you paraded in with your classmates, dressed in your gown and mortar board I couldn’t help but cry with such happiness and pride. Then when you got up on stage to receive your certificate for a French exam you took, despite only studying written French for 18 months, I was literally sobbing. I’m welling up now as I write this.

Earlier this year your swimming was really bad so we signed you up to some swimming lessons, as it’s such a big deal when you’re living on an island. The progress you’ve made is incredible and I could watch you swim for hours, it’s so beautiful.

We might have our fall-outs and our arguments, but luckily they are not big ones and I love that you still come to me for hugs and snuggles. I love that we talk and that you share your world with me – what happened at school, the storyline of the latest book you’re reading and much more.

Even though you’re getting older, bigger and more independent I love that we are managing to maintain our great relationship and our closeness 🙂

When we talked about your birthday celebrations for this year you asked if you could go swimming with dolphins in the wild with a few of your close friends. And it was such a pleasure to be able to say “yes, no problem” to your request.

I love that swimming with dolphins in the wild is something we can easily do here in Mauritius, especially as you are crazy about these beautiful creatures. And I love that this, your 11th, birthday was your “best birthday EVER!”. Here you are, swimming with dolphins in the wild on your 11th birthday…


I am so incredibly proud of you Léna and love you so very much. Happy 11th Birthday!

Lots of love,
Mummy xxxxxxxxxxx

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