Seventeen years ago, this very day, I gave birth for the first time. The pain I experienced that early morning was nothing compared to the pain I feel as I watch my baby girl learn the hardest lessons in life. I never imagined how embedded our lives would become. I feel her pain in my deepest core and her joy makes every fiber in my body dance. There is nothing quite like being a parent. Some days are so difficult I don’t know how I will ever get through them. Other days warm my heart enough to keep it beating on even the coldest of days. So what have I learned about parenting in 17 years? I have very little control over other people. I can do my best to set an example and hope my children will follow in my footsteps but at the end of the day, I have no choice but to support them when they choose their own path. I have learned that I don’t necessarily have all the answers and sometimes my kids are actually smarter than I am. I have learned to be open to ideas that once I would have never considered. I have learned to accept there are many types of people and sometimes my children see something in someone that my eyes would never recognize without their guidance. I have learned that parenting is the hardest and most important job I could ever have and giving up my career to make sure I can do everything I can to help them transition into caring, decent human beings who will contribute to the world in the most positive way is worth more than any amount of money in the world. The funny thing is, I think I learn more from them than they could ever learn from me.