Not Much Has Changed

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I just got back from celebrating moms weekend at my daughters college. The crushing pain my heart felt as I left her there 7 months ago is just a distant memory now. She has grown in so many ways in such a short amount of time. She asked me to dry her hair this morning and as I ran my fingers through her hair, I saw a small glimpse of her… that little girl who had always been the biggest part of my own little world. I had a flashback to the tiny pigtails and her sweet little face with those great big eyes that were always excited and bursting with life. I smiled to myself as the realization embraced me. Not much has really changed except her height. Her eyes are still the same on a more mature face and the light is stronger than ever. My greatest joy is seeing her happy. I decided long ago that would be my intention for her. Her happiness may look different than I envisioned years ago, but when the heart sees, the heart knows. This has been a year of growth for both of us in many ways but I am grateful for this wonderful time in our lives. This is the part where I get to sit back and watch her bask in her own light. Our lives looked so different a year ago and here we are at this exciting place along this amazing journey. There is no greater joy than being a mom and I am grateful for the reminder as this wonderful moms weekend comes to a close.

The Hardest Part of Parenting

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On Thursday, my daughter will turn eighteen. How blessed I am to have had the opportunity to hear someone call me mom for that long. We celebrated her birthday over the weekend. The ride home was quiet. Her cake sat on my lap like a weight hanging heavy on my soul. Where did the time go? The same little girl who clung onto me for dear life at preschool was ready to let go and run. Would she even look back? My tears escaped onto the cake box, each one a reminder of how much I was going to miss her. Each one aching, begging  for just a little more time. Am I ready for this? Is she ready? Eighteen. How can it be. I close my eyes and I see her little pigtails blowing in the wind. For a moment, she is two, sitting in a field of wildflowers and time stands still. I see her little hand move through the colors. A purple and orange tapestry of pure beauty with her sitting in the middle of it. The symbolism smiles back at me. Why didn’t I see it before? She is my precious, unpredictable wildflower, growing at her own pace and in her own precious time unbound by anyone’s limits. Her spirit, her beauty could not be contained. I go to the place I keep that picture. I drink it in, desperate to taste the day one time more. My heart breaks a little as I study every detail of her tiny face. For that single moment, I am there in that field pointing my camera at her sweet little face while the flowers tickle my bare feet. In my next breath she is standing before me, eighteen and I think again how blessed I am to be her mom. I remind myself quietly, savor every moment. You can’t get a single minute back. 

How Did I Miss It?

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One thing I’ve decided to leave behind in 2016 is my medication for depression. I’ve wondered how different I might feel and day by day those feelings are becoming my new reality. As I sat and had lunch with my daughter today I let the pain tug at my heart. Every day that passes by is one less day she will be here with me. College is coming fast and I only have a few months left to get used to the idea of watching her go. She looked different to me today. So grown up, sitting there poised and confident as she dropped a little salsa into her lap. I’ve spent years trying to shape and mold her and she turned out nothing like I had planned. She is her own, unique, obstinate, beautiful version of herself…so much better than I ever imagined. She is smart and funny and kind and there is no doubt she will handle the world with grace all on her own. I am reminded of a quote I read someplace by Wayne Dyer:

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Maybe the person I saw in her today has been there all along. Maybe I just looked at her through different eyes, not critical ones but rather eyes of a mother who has suddenly noticed her baby girl is all grown up. Every day is a new adventure. A new chance to notice something you might have missed the day before.

How My Life Changed in 2 Minutes

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I watched a video on Facebook this morning. It was the life of a girl set to music who died at the age of 22. I was destroyed. With each picture, as I watched this girl go through her life, I cried a little bit more. I couldn’t help but be jolted into the reality that life is so precious and so short. My own daughter is 16. Parenting a teen is so difficult for me. It’s hard not to feel frustrated and hurt by the constant changing moods. Someday she is fun and silly and other days she is filled with hate and anger. If I’m being totally honest, someday I let her slip through the back door and up to her room and I feel relief that she has not chosen to direct her bad mood directly at me. There are nights I go to sleep and I don’t say goodnight or take a last peek at her beautiful face. I spend so many minutes avoiding her or reacting to her instead of just loving her. They say everything comes to us at the right time. This video sure did. With each picture I could feel my heart change. Teens have it so hard today. They are struggling with new ideas and beliefs that are different than their parents ideals. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to feel like you are forced to be someone who doesn’t fit comfortably in your own skin. How awful it must be to feel unaccepted the way you are. Don’t we all want to be loved, respected, understood?

My daughter asked to go shopping this weekend and I told her I didn’t want to go. Guess what? I have changed my mind. Maybe we will go shopping and for pedicures and grab a bite to eat on the way home. Life goes by quickly and when we stop looking, it’s too late. Every day is another chance to get it right. To love, to see someone exactly as they are and to love and accept them unconditionally.  That is the greatest gift of all and the best gift I have ever learned as my 43rd year of living comes to an end. That is the lesson I will carry with me.  We are never too old to learn something new and I will never be too proud to change. Ebb and flow and flow and flow…Remember, you are the person you are today, not yesterday.

I was blessed enough to come across this poem. I hope you will learn from it as much as I have. 

                           Please Listen

when I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice,

you have not done what I have asked.

when I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,

you are trampling on my feelings.

when I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, 

you have failed me (strange as that may seem).

 

listen – all i asked was that you listen – not talk or do, just hear me

I can “do” for myself

I am not helpless … maybe discouraged and faltering – but not helpless

when you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.

 

when you accept as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational

then I quit trying to convince you and get down to the business of understanding what is behind the irrational feeling

and when that is clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice

Irrational feelings make sense, when we understand what’s behind them.

so please listen and just hear me

and if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you.

Author Unknown 

What To Expect The first Week Your Teen Becomes A Driver

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My daughter got her license this week and this is an informational post about what can and probably will go wrong. Day one, she decided to drive to school from the tag agency in my husbands convertible. She was overjoyed and excited and ready to strike the perfect pose as she floated out of the building, license in hand. It was like she was an award winning actress pausing for a moment in front of the camera to remind the world just how wonderful she really is. If this was my daughter, she would probably look something like this! Oh and notice the sign in the background! Omen or coincidence, you decide..

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As she started to pull away, my heart rode off with her in the passenger seat. She stopped the car and rolled the window down one last time. “Hey mom, where is my school?” That is when my parental brakes kicked in and I started to get a little bit worried as she pulled away. Oh my God! She was driving around and had no idea where she was going. Somehow, probably with the help of GPS, she made it there and back home again.

Day 2 started off with the same giddy smile spread across her face. She even offered to take her brother to school. He was bursting with excitement. Later that day, when I picked him up I asked him how it went. He was thrilled to report that she drove through Sonic to get him breakfast. When I asked what he had I almost fainted….”chili cheese tots”. “Chili cheese tots for breakfast?” “Yep, pretty cool huh!” Next he described how she rubbed up against the curb as they pulled through the drive- thru. Could this story get any worse. Oh yes, it can. Later that night I got this text from my husband.

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Day 3 started off with the same goofy smile. At lunch time, I got a text from her while she was at school.

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A flat tire, learning how to pump gas and getting a drivers license can make for a taxing week. Oh, and did I mention it is only WEDNESDAY?

A Milestone

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When is the last time you were so excited about something that you uncontrollably giggled? The time has finally arrived to teach my daughter how to drive. The second she sits behind the wheel, the giggling starts. Maybe she senses the incredible amount of freedom that comes with being the one who sits behind the wheel. Maybe it is just the silly excitement of knowing she is growing up and given more responsibilities that allow her to fly a bit further from the nest. Whatever the case, she is super excited. As I watched her accelerate through a turn as I held on for dear life, I caught the beautiful moment on her face. The teenage years are a time for many firsts. I have such fond memories of my high school years and I hope for her the best is yet to come.

Thank You MOM

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How do you properly say thank you to someone who has cared for your body inside her own? How do you say thank you to someone who gave up hours of her own sleep to care for and cater to your every need? How do you show your appreciate for the one person who has always been honest, even when you couldn’t be honest with yourself? How do show your love to the one person who loved you through the times you believed you were unlovable and stood by you when the rest of the world seemed to turn away?

How do you convince someone that they have been a wonderful mother when they always feel they could have done better? How do you say that your best is and always will be good enough and more than your kids have ever deserved? How do you tell that person who is constantly second guessing herself that she is better than most. How do you convince someone who has given every second of her life worrying and loving and standing by you through every single moment of your life, the good, the bad, the difficult and the amazing that she has been a tower of strength to get you through it all? How do you tell her that now you are a mom and you understand the amount of sacrifice, the agony of watching your own children’s pain, the years of disappointment, pride and immense love that you had no idea existed until you too became a mom.

The truth is this. One day we are a selfish young woman and the next we become a selfless mom. There is no preparing someone to be a mom. No directions, no instructions….nothing. We are given this precious life who we are solely responsible for and it is wonderful and scary and painful and amazing. There is a special bond between a mother and her child and the day she holds that little baby in her arms for the first time, their hearts become one. There are no words, no amount of distance that could ever break that bond.

It’s not easy being a mom, I know that now. There is no greater hurt than when a child you sacrificed everything for looks you in the eye with contempt and disrespect. What do you do? You love them anyway. That’s just what moms do. The strong and loving ones do anyway. You love your children through every slammed door, every mean word, every hurtful conversation. You forgive them and you choose love just like that very first day when you looked in that child’s eyes for the first time. The most precious gift my mom ever taught me is that love is a choice we make each and every day. Love doesn’t always come naturally. Love does not erase anger and disappointment. That is why we make the choice to love our kids through it all, even when they don’t deserve it.

Thank you Mom for choosing to love me through the times I made it difficult. Thank you for being a daily part of my life even now that I am an adult and have kids of my own. Thank you for loving me and being the one and only person who has always been there no matter what you were going through yourself. And thank you for being the wonderful grandmother you are and giving my kids what I am sometimes not able to give myself. You are a kind, giving, supportive, wonderful woman. If only you could see yourself through my eyes. I realize there are no words to give enough thanks. There is no gift special enough to let you know how very special you are to me. But yet somehow, I know that you know how much you mean to me. Sometimes it’s in the little things, like the 5 times I call you everyday. But sometimes, it is just something felt in the heart and I feel it so I know you feel it too. Our hearts are one and I am grateful for you each and every day.

Thank you mom for being anything and everything I ever needed. Thank you for the lessons, the words of encouragement and for just letting me know if I ever got lost in the world, you would always be home. Thank you for teaching me to always make myself a priority too. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our giving and loving others that we lose ourselves. It is only when we love and are kind to ourselves that we can truly love and be good to others. Happy Mothers Day to my hero, role model, biggest supporter and most of all to my best friend. I am so blessed and grateful to have you in my life. Chance made you my mother, love made you my friend.

When The Music Speaks

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I have been carrying a pretty large load of angry around with me over the last few weeks. I realized that I am projecting that anger out onto others who have no other choice than to be there around me. As I was driving in the car today there were a group of songs that came on, one after the other. It sounded like a playlist I already have on my ipad. I wanted to cry. The music, the words and the feeling all came rushing at me fast enough to completely catch me off guard. My pain was there in the passenger seat riding there beside me. It has become my traveling companion and no matter how quickly I jump in the car and hit the gas pedal, I can’t escape it. It is part of me whether I give it my attention or not. Ignoring it and denying it will not release me from the consequences of the two of us being chained together. We are one like it or not. I realized it is my pain masquerading around as anger that shields the people around me from who I really am and what I am carrying around inside. I think my daughter is a lot like I am. When she needs love, she pushes people away. When she wants attention, she negatively acts out. I think that wounded child forever lives inside of us. And if we don’t hug and love the little me, she forgets she is a grown adult and acts out like a teenage child. The lessons we need to know will come to us when the time is right. Today has been one of those “just right” days. When the music speaks, the heart listens. It sneaks in quietly far beneath the depths that spoken words could ever reach. Music helps us heal and music helps us feel. Sometimes we have to put on some earphones and go through that playlist song after song until we feel the peace and the strength in the lyrics. And the times we feel weak we should sing with all our heart until the lyrics turn into words and we are whole again.

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Experiment Mom

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As a parent and adult, we are forced to wear many hats. Our many rolls often cross and it hard to keep our mind in the right one in the middle of running the marathon of our fast paced lives. I just had a conversation with a woman who seems to have wonderful advice. Every time we speak, I hang on every word. She gave me a fantastic idea. When dealing with my teenage daughter, instead of wearing my mother cap, I am going to, for one full week, wear my counselor cap. I am going to restrain myself from reacting to her words, and instead I am going to try and repeat them back to her so that maybe she feels that 1) she is important, 2) I am listening, 3) what she says matters and hopefully she will feel more loved and validated.

It is so easy to see someone else’s situation clearly. It even allows us the gift of offering the exact advice someone needs at just the right moment. However, when we are the ones personally involved in our own situation, it is easy to miss a point all together because our feelings, our emotions, and that great big ego of ours is busy reacting to the person or situation standing there looking us back in the face. So, I am going to remove the personal by stopping myself from reacting like mom, and improve our relationship and communication by responding like the counselor. I really think it’s worth an honest try. I will let you know how it goes. At least until I learn how and when to productively change those hats without having to give it so much thought.

CONTROL

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Am I control freak? You bet I am. You will do what I want, when I want, and how I want or I will make your life a living hell. I will nag you, stalk you, stare at you and continue to bug the heck out of you until you give me what I want. So, where did I learn this amazing talent? From being a mom. I can wait these scandalous kids out until they have no choice but to surrender to my demand.

It’s funny looking back, I wasn’t always this way. Really, I was normal. I would ask nicely and wait patiently and then I gave birth to the most strong-willed little girl you could ever expect. Yes, she was adorable, on the outside anyway, but on the inside she was an absolute terrorizing monster. That girl taught me how to be tough. I remember when she was just 3, I would give her the look, you know the one that would make us timid people sit down and shut up. One simple look, and we knew we were in deep trouble. Well this little ball of terror could and would stare back at me with bigger, meaner eyes and not even think about looking away. She would hold my gaze until finally I would have to blink. Little Miss Sassypants! That was her name. Then she would stick her tongue out all the time. So one day, I decided to put something yucky on her tongue to teach her a lesson. You know what I learned form that genius adventure? No matter what I did to her, that tongue was still coming out, like it or not. She was like a gosh darn well trained army and I was just the new recruit.

So, fast forward through the years. Yesterday, I was driving my still strong willed 15 year old to swim practice. I really cannot tolerate the music she likes so after 5 minutes of suffering through it, I realized I held all the power right in my hands. Literally! I am sure it must have been a mom who invented the radio controls right there on the steering wheel. Oh yeah! You see where I’m going with this one now don’t you! I had found the light and I was sprinting towards it. With one little touch of the finger my country music was back on.

Are you wondering how this story is going to end or do you already think you know? We spent the entire car ride fighting back and forth pushing buttons and not one song was ever heard. Did either one of us win really, probably not but we sure laughed pretty hard the entire way. I love that stubborn little girl and I admit I do admire her persistence. I am counting on the fact that one day it will take her very far.

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