My oldest daughter just went on her first date to a high school dance. As I watched her walk toward those big doors behind all of her friends, she turned around to blow me a kiss. She was glowing!

And then it happened…in a flash the last 16 years went by in a blur and suddenly I saw her moving onto the next big things in her life. A mission, college, marriage, and babies! Eeeek! Tears sprung into action without warning and I quickly maneuvered my way out of the parking lot to avoid awkward eye contact with another parent or student.

What happened? It seems like yesterday I was rolling my eyes at other moms, whining about their kids growing up too fast and thinking to myself…I can’t WAIT for that day. The day they will stop hanging on me every minute and covering me with all of their dirt and snot. Don’t get me wrong I loved my littles, but I looked forward to them becoming mini-grownups that wouldn’t need me every minute.

All the feels came at once.  Regret for not being more present during her younger years, when life, business, and all crazy things that were thrown at us kept me distracted from spending more time snuggling with her, reading books, and playing dress up.  Worried about whether I had properly prepared her for the big world ahead…dating, college, jobs, family.  Excited anticipation to see what she would do, knowing that despite all of my screw-ups, this daughter of mine is uniquely special. She has always been one to “follow the beat of her own drummer” and though that often puts me in a position of squirmy discomfort, she has a confidence that I can’t help but admire.  And then… GRATITUDE .…an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this child and all of the life lessons she has taught me.  God gave me someone who would force me out of my comfort zone in so many ways and teach me to love myself.

I thought back to a few days ago when she came home and announced that her choir teacher would be starting the upcoming auditions for solos.  She was so excited to try out…again. This will be her 4th year in choir and her 10th trimester at attempting to tryout for a choir solo.  She had not been successful in any of her previous attempts and yet here she was, optimistically preparing again and practicing daily (at the top of her lungs and throughout the house, I might add).   That feeling of gratitude immediately drown out all of the other feelings of fear and worry and left me in AWE.

No doubt, I’m not a perfect parent and have done so many things wrong, but I made a solid commitment right there in my car, with tears in my eyes, that I would not waste these last few years.  She deserves that from me, and I deserve that from me. Life is no less busy now than it was then, but I’m quite capable of leaning on my Savior for the love and patience I need to parent my kids in an attitude of gratitude. Each new moment with my kiddos is a gift and gratitude, especially when it gets challenging, is key.

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