I just left my oldest daughter’s school wearing dark glasses to hide the tears streaming down my cheeks. I’m sure anyone who saw me thought I was sad or something was wrong, but in fact the tears were those of joy and of pride and of gratefulness. All I did was drop off lunch from Noodles for my birthday girl and in return received a big hug and an “I love you” from a newly turned fourteen year-old in the lobby of her middle school. To top it off, as I was driving home I received a text from her thanking me again, “Thank you so much for lunch mom, I love you.”
How lucky am I?
I’m sure years to come will bring moments that aren’t so beautiful. I’m sure at some point I’ll be paid back for the way I treated my own mom in my teenage years. But today, for this moment, I will hold dear how important even the little things we do as moms are. How even just a small thoughtful effort can go such a long way with our children and reap such rewards on us.
It seems like yesterday to me that I was holding my first child, looking at her in absolute awe and feeling the greatest love a human being can ever feel. It seems like a week ago that I watched her take her first steps, speak her first word, take her first bite of awful organic homemade carrot cake that I made her eat for her first birthday. And perhaps only a month ago that I held her tightly before letting her enter elementary school for the first time.
I look back at fourteen years of photos and see my darling infant change into toddler, child, tween and now full teen. I think about how in these fourteen years we have both learned, both grown. I think I have learned to be a kinder mother. I think I have learned to choose my battles. I think I have learned to let some things go; let her eat the delicious artificial cakes, let her go off on her own and not hold her hand so tightly, let her be HER. And most importantly I have learned that there is nothing I would rather be than be a mom.
I think she has learned to walk taller and stronger. I think she has learned to have confidence in who she is and not be concerned with what others think of her. I think she has learned to make smart choices in friends, to be with those she truly loves being with and to do what she loves to do. I have watched her grow into a young lady who can hang out with my friends just as easily as she hangs with her own and I have watched her realize and express how very lucky and blessed we are and be concerned about those who are not as fortunate. I have watched her learn the strength and power of humor and also the power of tears and release. And most of all, I have watched her become a young woman I am proud to know and even more proud to call my daughter.
And as my daughter is starting to borrow my shoes, I can only hope she walks in them better than I have. That she learns from my mistakes and becomes a stronger and better woman than I am. That she is blessed to become a mother someday and becomes a stronger and better one than I.
All we can wish for as a mothers is that our children turn out better than us (as wonderful as we are!) and that we do our jobs right-raise them well then let them go.
But today, right now, I am holding on. Holding onto her “ I love you.” Holding on to her “thank you.” Holding on to the fact that I brought my daughter a little joy today; because if I could give her even one-millionth of the joy she gives me then that is worth celebrating.
Happy 14th birthday my special Emily.