And So It Begins

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I just dropped my daughter off at school for her first day of her junior year in high school. She humored me with a picture in front of the palm tree. She gave me sixty seconds. I've been taking a picture of her there every year since she started kindergarten. Hard to believe that there will only be one more picture in front of that tree, and then she is off to college. We have both come a long way from that first day of kindergarten. A few things I've learned in sixteen years of parenting.

Trust your inner voice. When I was a younger mom, I always looked to others to know what to do. I would call everyone, and see what they thought, and I would look to certain people and do what they did. I would turn to my inner voice last or not at all. Then after a few bad choices I realized that only I knew what was best for me and my daughter, and that I needed to turn inward not outward. Every child is different, every situation is different and the answers are within us not out there in the crowd. It's hard not to get caught up in what others are doing, and being and wanting to do and be like them. I realized that I couldn't teach Brianna to make choices that were best for her, if I weren't making choices that were best for me. I couldn't tell her to trust her inner voice, if I didn't trust mine.The reality is we can't give our children what we don't have.

No is a complete sentence. In the beginning, I was the yes mom. Yes I will be the team mom, yes I will watch your children, yes I will teach, yes I will be the room mom, yes I will be the PTA president. Yes mattered to me in a big way.  But I learned you can't have yes without no. If you're not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to important things, and you don't even realize it. All of my yeses got me exhausted, grumpy and stressed. I thought that I was saying yes to all these things for my daughter until she sat me down one day  at the age of eight to tell me that all of her friends were scared of me, and thought that I was mean. She said I yelled too much and never paid attention. My yeses out there had turned into no's at home. No sleep, no peace, no family time, no fun. I had to learn to say no to the things that look good to others and yes to the things that were important to my daughter and our home life.

The biggest thing I've learned about being a parent is how important it is for my daughter to know that she is enough, and that my love for her is unconditional. It's not dependent on how well she plays soccer, what her grades are, it's not dependent on the good or the bad. I have always wanted my daughter to know that I love her, and I will stand by her no matter what.I have always wanted her to come to me with the hard things and share it with me. It's the no matter what that sometimes get you. It's the hard questions, the hard choices. I've learned that my love shows in my reaction to what she says, it shows in the things I make important and the choices I make as well. My love is a no matter what kind of love and I do my best to show that every day.

Parenting is hard, the days are long, but the years are short. Before you know it you will be sending your littles off to college.