I Never Knew Parenting Would Grow Me

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19 years ago I imagined how amazing it would be to watch my daughter grow. I looked forward to having a little girl and dressing her up in fancy dresses and putting curls in her hair. I had no idea that this tiny baby was going to change my life in ways I never imagined. That tiny baby began to crawl and walk. She went off to school and learned to drive. This year she went off to college. She has been a blessing in so many ways. She has taught me to be myself without apology and to own every single part of myself. She has taught me never to hide in a corner or allow anyone to make me fell shame because of a mistake I made. She made me learn to continue to love and respect a person whose ideas do not match up with my own. She has taught me that my actions have consequences and if I want people to respect me then I too have to treat them with respect regardless of how frustrated or angry I may feel. She taught me to be silly and to appreciate someone who can break through the serious to make others laugh. She taught me that while I watched her grow, I too would grow right along with her. She is my heart and soul. She is my inspiration on the darkest days and a smile on my face that shines through the darkest pain. This little girl was chosen just for me, to change me in the most significant ways so I could be this person I am today. Happy birthday to my silly little Kayleigh who no matter how old she becomes, will always be my little girl. Happy birthday to my little groundhog who always rushes into everyday full speed ahead, excited about the future and never looking back to catch a glimpse of the shadow of who she used to be. You are beautifully you, truly unique in the most amazing ways. May this year be your best year yet. I love you more than you will ever know.

Just a Moment Longer

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My daughter loves to sing. Not the soft, beautiful singing that soothes your soul but rather hard on the ears, top of your lungs, screeching with passion kind of singing. My ears actually hurt as she belted out her favorite Frozen tune. Let it Go she bellowed through the house. Immediately I softened. I realized, in that moment, that soon my house would grow eerily quiet. Not the kind of silence I would welcome but one that would remind me how empty the house will be. Next year during this time she will be off to college and I will be longing for her to return for Christmas break. It’s easy to lose track of time and what’s important. There are days my life flashes in front of my eyes and I ache for the certainty of what once was. I picture her chubby little face, messy pigtails and sweet little Barney songs. I miss her crawling in my lap or in the tub everytime I would take a bath. I miss her big, brown, sparkly eyes and the wonder each time she would discover something new. Her eyes are more serious now but I am grateful for her playful spirit. She has fallen down a few times but is still brave enough to run full speed ahead. She is unafraid and confident and fully engaged in every moment. I pray that never changes.

Today, look around you and really see your blessings. Enjoy every person and every moment and remember that we can never know what tomorrow may bring. I know this holiday season is bitter sweet. This is the last year that the only normal I have ever known will only exist for a few months more. Today I will look a little longer, love a whole lot deeper and feel the gratitude in my heart. Today I will not take anything for granted. I long to hold onto her just a moment longer.

Am I Cray Cray?

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I admit my reaction is often over exaggerated and unnecessary. Can I help it? I have no idea. Why do I go straight to crazy? My daughters driving is like a first class ticket to freak out town. Lately though, she has been doing a much better job and as we backed out of our parking spot tonight, I thought to myself how nice it was to finally be able to relax when she is behind the wheel. I guess I forgot driving my big van is much different from her little Ford Focus. Next thing I know the car is rocking to the left and then to the right and the scraping sound was like my cats nails on my wooden dining room chair. I cannot tell you what I was repeatedly screaming as she continued to apply pressure to the gas peddle with no intention of stopping. Just for the record, I was not praying. In the meantime, I drop the phone from my ear right in the middle of my conversation with, of all people, MY MOTHER who has the terrible misfortune of hearing the entire fiasco play out real time. Did I mention my mother is supposed to stay calm so her blood pressure does not get too high? 

After we survive what I think is a curb, a really big, oversized curb, I pick the phone back up and start laughing uncontrollably.. It was hysterical after the fact and I continued to laugh all the way home. How could I possibly be angry with my daughter when just yesterday I backed my van into the garage door? I have really tapped into my sense of humor and have come to realize laughing something off feels so much better than feeling angry or upset. I hope no one is watching me write this because I am having repeated bouts of hysterical laughing now just trying to get through writing this. It must appear that I have gone mad. I actually think I have.

What Really Matters

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While some parents are focused on how smart their kids are, how many A’s they have, if they are ahead of the curve when it comes to sports and just about anything else, I came to a realization tonight. As I stood on the side of the road watching my daughter on the float in the homecoming parade, I saw something that made every fiber in my body smile. As she stood there waving back at me, she had the most beautiful, genuine smile on her face. If I wish for my kids to excel at anything, I pray they excel at happiness. That is the only thing that really matters.

One More Time

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Sometimes, if you are lucky enough to look in the right place at just the right time, you will catch something that you will be so grateful you didn’t miss.

My little girl, my first born, is 16. Everyday I look at her and wonder, how did this happen? Where did the years go? Today she invited some friends over to hang out at the pool. For whatever reason, I looked out just in time to see something that made me smile. Even though she is so serious during the week and trying her best to act all grown up, there she was holding hands with her friend running like a little girl and jumping into the pool. They were laughing and giggling and it reminded me of a time long ago. For a second, I got a glimpse of the little girl who couldn’t wait to jump from the side of the pool and into my arms. She was a little fish who, for whatever reason, loved the water. She would look at me with those wide, sparkling, beautiful brown eyes that would melt my heart and say “one more time mommy” which turned into a million more times. She was so small then and I had no idea she would grow up so fast. What I wouldn’t give to rewind to that moment in time. How I wish I could go there and catch her just one more time.  

 

A Mothers Love

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A mothers love goes deep.

It goes deeper than the look on our face or the mood that we’re in.

It goes beyond our mistakes, our flaws, our bad choices.

It goes beyond our grades, the way we look or the degree hanging on our wall.

A mother sees it all, the whole picture, and none of that makes her love us any less.

She sees the look on our face as stress.

She hears the anxiety behind our words.

She sees our value on top of our degree.

She sees our flaws as uniqueness, our beauty that goes far beneath our skin.

She sees our bad choices as stepping stones that help us get to the next place.

She sees our strength, our beauty, the magnitude of our heart.

She sees and she does not judge.

She looks and she always loves.

A mothers love is like the ground beneath our feet, always solid, always safe and always welcoming.

A mothers love never ends and is always felt deep in our heart no matter where she might be.

A Letter To My Daughter

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16 years I have watched you grow. I remember the very first night the nurse wheeled you into my room. Dad was asleep in the chair but I stayed up all night long and watched you breathe. You were the most beautiful little baby I had ever seen. You were mine, all mine. The beat of my heart, that’s what you became. The smile on my face, the words to my song.

Before I knew it you were crawling, walking, running, flipping. Your feet were never planted firmly on the floor. You loved to push limits and take risks. You would crawl in the cubby of the entertainment system and hang out there, you would pile books as high as you could and stand on them. You always set your sights higher than most kids your age. Do you remember how you would climb the basketball post during cheerleading practice and sit at the top the entire time refusing to come down? You were only 5 and I was the coach and still you knew the cheers better than anyone else. You nearly scared the mothers at the pool to death when your tiny two year old self would jump in the pool without me there and you would actually swim all by yourself.

Dad and I were talking the other day. We were wondering how to properly answer the question WHO AM I? I dont exactly have the words but I cant even remember who I was before you. Even through the most difficult times, my best memories were watching you turn into this young woman who is becoming more independent every day. Those days are the best, every single one. They are just moving way too fast. To be honest, in a few days, you will be driving on your own and my heart will break as you pull down the drive. No matter how old you get, you will always be my little girl, my little buddy, the little girl I would pull in the wagon everyday on the way to the park. The girl I would push on the swing for hours and who would only let me hold her when she was finally exhausted at the end of the day. The little girl who slept in my bed until she was 8 with her little arm shoved firmly underneath my body to make sure I was never too far away.

You are beautiful and grown in so many ways. I am proud that you have the confidence to think for yourself. You are never afraid to speak your own words. You know who you are and you never waste a single minute trying to be anyone else.

For 16 years I have watched you grow and I had no idea the time would go by so fast. It seems like just yesterday you were holding my hand, pigtails in your hair, staring at me with your big brown eyes singing Barney over and over until I was sure that silly tape would break.

Happy sixteenth birthday. No matter how old you get or how far away you go, you will always be right here in my heart. I am slowly learning to give you wings and although its hard to let you fly, I know we will both be okay.Maybe okay will be our always, isnt that what you often playfully say? Maybe there is more truth in that than even we know. There is not one relationship any stronger than the one between a mother and daughter. That is the one relationship that will never let you down. Sure the teenage years will bring a special set of challenges but at the end of the day, we will always have each other and a safe place to land at the end of even the hardest day. Whether you believe it or not, someday you will think of me as your very best friend. I love you more than words, maybe I dont say it enough because love is something that is felt but is not always easily spoken. My love goes beyond the comprehension of words. I will always love you and I will forever be standing on the sidelines cheering you on with each and every step you take on this journey of life. My wish is that you will live a happy life and live in a way you will have few regrets. You only get one life sweet girl so make this one count. Be the best version of yourself and always do the best you can. That will always be enough. Success should be measured by the love you feel in your heart and the happiness that rocks you gently to sleep at night. May you always love and be loved and may you discover your own little island of happy where you will always be washed in the waves of peace and gratitude. Count your blessings each and every day and dont forget to play. Life is serious but you dont have to be. Live, laugh, smile and be silly. Dont grow old, just continue to grow. May this day, your sixteenth birthday always be a memory that brings a smile to your face. You are so very special, unique in your own beautiful way. I am so proud to be your mom.

A Letter To My Daughter On Her 1st Day of High School!

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I wrote this a year ago but wanted to share it again.

Dear Kayleigh,

I cannot imagine how you must be feeling today. Maybe you are old enough and wise enough to see the momentous significance of this day and maybe not. I am here to tell you this. Today is a huge day. It is a day to live in each moment and take it all in. Pause before you walk through the front door of the next 4 years of your life. Take note of what you’re feeling. You will want to remember. What do you see? How do you feel? What are you thinking? Write it all down so you will never forget. Will your heart beat faster because you are scared or excited or will you be questioning whether you picked the right outfit and whether you should have curled or straightened your hair? Take a deep breath and bask in the moment of the beginning of a new and exciting chapter of your life. This chapter is important. It will shape you and define you and serve as a pathway to the next chapter in life.

Look around at all the faces. You will see them every day and some days I am sure you will wish you didn’t have to see them at all. The truth is, one day you will step out of those doors on the last day of your senior year and those people will no longer be part of your everyday life. I promise you will miss them. Your heart will ache for them and the safety and familiarity of school will always leave a little hole in your heart. There is something very special and bonding about having your high school experience in common. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Remember there is only one person in the world that is you. You are unique and special just the way you are. Don’t ever try to be like anyone else. Always believe in yourself, and listen to the little compass inside of you. It will always let you know when something is wrong or something is right.

You will learn so many things these next few years and most of it will not be taught from any book. You will learn about life, and love, and success, and how to handle disappointments. You will probably find your first love and have your heart broken beyond repair. Learn that each morning brings a new day. Take comfort in that. Every day you have the chance to be a better version of you. You will make mistakes and you will move on and grow. Be the person you want to be. Bring kindness and forgiveness and a smile to everyone you see. Years from now, when someone hears your name, do you want them to remember you with a scowl on your face or with a great big smile? You will be remembered by the people whose lives you will touch. Someday, someone will look back and remember a kind deed or a kind word that you offered them. Be confident and kind and remember, even though you think you know it all, you really don’t. Use this time to pay attention, to learn and grow. Bottle it up and take it all in. Study hard, be a good friend, and just have fun. You will look back someday despite the drama and the lessons and the tests, broken friendships, broken hearts, mistakes, accomplishments and realize that these next four years will be some of the most memorable in your life. Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. Nothing is the end of the world except one very important detail. Do not do anything that will take away your self respect. What other people think about you is not that important, BUT what YOU think about YOURSELF means everything! Respect yourself and others will respect you too. Do not think you are above anyone but know you are certainly not beneath them. Don’t judge. Find the common in everyone. Remember, at the end of the day, we all have the same feelings and similar experiences. Treat yourself and others with respect. It will help you sleep a whole lot better at night.

Work hard at everything you do. Don’t do anything half way. Push yourself and challenge yourself and don’t ever settle for less than what you are capable of. Every choice you make will affect how others will see you and more importantly how you see yourself. Make wise ones and don’t be in a hurry. These years will go fast and life gets harder and harder with each new responsibility. Take time to find something to be grateful for everyday. Gratitude brings more of what you want and love. Don’t waste time being jealous. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, more popular, more liked. Don’t compete. Practice forgiveness and compassion towards everyone. Carrying anger is like a poison that slowly kills you over time. Teach people how to treat you and be the best version of yourself everyday.

I am so excited to watch you grow these next few years. I can’t help but remember that time in my own life and feel a little envious of how lucky you are to be knocking on the door of this wonderful short time of yours. I am proud of you and I love you and I know these next few years will be special ones! It seems like just yesterday that I held you in my arms for the very first time. It is time to let you fly and fly you will.

A Token Of Appreciation

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Today is a very special day! It’s no secret I have lived away from family for several years. My heart breaks when I cannot be there to share the special moments with the people I love. I got a HUGE surprise yesterday. I found out my brother booked my mother a ticket to fly out and spend her birthday here with me. What can I do to make the day special enough to let her know how much I love and appreciate her? Everyone deserves a day when the world stops to honor them. Everyone deserves to feel good and happy and special.

As a mother myself, I know all too well the sacrifices me make for our family, especially our children. We put our lives on hold to give everything we have. People forget that we are only human. We do the best we can while we are often dealing with our own personal issues that we don’t bother to burden our families with. We carry a lot. Sometimes it becomes heavy but we put our best effort at a smile on our face and we keep being wife and mom. Life isn’t always perfect for us but we are so busy making life as perfect as we can for everyone else that sometimes everyone else forgets how important we really are. Kids are selfish and immature. They like to blame mom for everything because the day comes when mom stops fixing everything. It’s tough being a mom. It’s tough to love your kids so much that every time you see them hurt, you feel that pain twice as much. You spend hours at night praying that God will take that pain away from them and make it your own. You love them so much that you put up with their disrespect and you see past the things you wish they hadn’t become. You love them unconditionally while at the same time they continue to test and put conditions on you. It is hard and it is rewarding and it is a role many can’t separate from. We lose ourselves in our children and then one day they go away and we are standing there tearfully wondering where the time went while we were busy handing over every piece of our heart.

Again, how can I let this wonderful woman know how very special she is to me? I know it hasn’t been easy but she’s always been there even when I’ve pushed her away. She is my most loyal friend, my most honest critic and I am so very grateful and honored that she is here with me.

Life is short. We have to show people how important they are each and every day. We have to find a way to push our egos and selfishness aside and say thank you to the person who nurtured us from the time we were in her womb. Thank you mom for never giving up on us even when you should have. Thanks for always forgiving through the things we said that hurt deep enough to leave scars. Thank you for being a constant source of love and protection and for providing a place my heart can always call home. Happy birthday and I wish you a day filled with many moments of love and appreciation. I wish you a day to be selfish and important and happy and free of worry. You have always been and always will be my very best friend. Thank you for sharing this day with me.

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Shine On

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I remember like it was yesterday, the first day the nurses placed Kayleigh in my clumsy little arms. What would I do with this little person? How would I take care of her? One day earlier, she was just a thought inside my belly, but that day I was holding a hopeful new little life right there in my own tiny hands. How scary and wonderful all at the same time.

I can’t tell you how quickly the last few years have been ripped out from underneath me. Where does the time go? We spend so much time and energy rushing to get to the next phase that we forget to pause long enough to take it all in.

There I was Sunday, standing behind my daughter of almost 15 years, watching her study herself in the 3 way mirror at the mall. We were shopping for a dress for a very special dance disagreeing about what she would wear. Then she came out in this dress, smile on her face, beaming with excitement. She was beautiful. The way she looked at herself, I knew she saw herself the way I saw her too. A vision of confidence and poise and inner beauty that found a way to shine itself out. She is my little sparkle, full of herself, bubbling over with personality, and more importantly than anything else, a portrait of happiness. In a world where kids seem so lost and unsure and unhappy, I am blessed to have this little beam of light as my daughter. Oh and that great big open mouth smile is like a contagious disease, spread it everywhere you go. Shine on pretty girl and like the saying goes, “Never let anyone dull your sparkle”. I am so blessed!

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