I Do Declare!


Congratulations On Decision Day!


Today college students across the country are nailing down their college decision including my 17-year-old daughter. It’s hard to believe that the little girl I watched climb the bus stairs, she was so small she had to use her hands is now going off to college. I can still see her on that very first day of school – the Oshkosh denim jumper, embroidered Peter Pan collar, lace socks, Mary Janes and the bow. The bow said it all, a green grosgrain bow with a plastic art palette smack in the center.

I’m not sure how time has gone by so quickly. It really does seem like yesterday that she was off to kindergarten. The very first time she was away from home for an extended time. There have been so many moments between that time and now the end of 12th grade and though I have never been prouder of who my daughter has become – truth be told I have also changed and grown.

My daughter has taught me so much and many times I didn’t even realize it. I think many parents, if they take a step back, would realize how intuitive our charges are. Parenting isn’t easy when there are so many balls to juggle – I mean the self-imposed balls of ensuring your child is successful such as attending the “right” college, earning the “right” grades, having the “right” friends. While I may not have always subscribed to these tenets I am guilty of some of them.

Along the way, I was straightened out by that bow-toting, doe-eyed little girl. She set me straight with sports by telling me that “she wasn’t going to go anywhere near the soccer ball for she may get hurt.” She also scoffed at the de rigueur of soccer cleats. She came home from elementary school one day and told me she felt “invisible.” I knew she was quiet but I fretted and tried to arrange for play dates that ended horribly or worse yet with girls who found more in common with her baby brother. Why didn’t I trust her instinct? She wasn’t interested in sports – but I wasted my time worrying about who she would play with when everyone was on the soccer field? I worried about the invisible comment and observed girls who were more aggressive and seemed to attract followers. She was learning about who she was and being quiet does not mean you are signing up for a life of loneliness – in time she found the right friends.

I worried every time she mentioned that she wasn’t popular or smart. Again, she was observing the world around her. Popularity was a contest she decided not to pursue and she was always far smarter than she thought. A solid student, the top tier always felt far away – she felt bad about herself. She had to work through that and she worked hard and watched others fly through tests without studying and earning 100s. She slowly learned that everyone blooms at different times and that hard work paid off. She also realized that she possessed talents and skills that were unique to her.

I learned that I spent way too much time lecturing about what she needed to do to get into college when all along the things that make my daughter who she is were always present and sometimes I failed to see that. I suppose it’s a mother’s job to question but if I could go back in time I would see the positive in so many little comments or incidents that I worried about. I also learned that swooping in for the rescue deprived her of making her own assessments. Believe me she put me in my place many times for that one.

So, today my daughter made her big decision and guess what – I once again failed to see what was in front of my face. She decided to go to a much larger university than I ever dreamed she would go to and the internal alarm sounded off for me. I countered by asking her if she was really sure and fretted about the final decision. What I should have seen is that my daughter was not taking the path of least resistance; she wants to get out of her comfort zone for her own personal growth. I should have seen that she was fearless and that instead of opting to be a big fish in a small pond she craved something more – a larger experience filled with challenge, diversity and opportunity. I was now guilty of not seeing her. My daughter was never invisible; not being seen by others who are wrapped up in themselves does not mean you are not there. Right now, I’ve never been more proud and I see more clearly than ever – that it’s time for me to get out of the way and wave goodbye!

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