Everyone says that the years you spend parenting your children are the best years of your life. I like to cultivate friendships with women who are both in the same period of parenting that I’m currently in–raising a preschooler and an elementary school aged child–and I also like to have friends to talk to and learn from who have been through this stage before and have lived to tell the tale!
My daughters and I spent some time yesterday with a good friend who has a 17 year old daughter. Her daughter is beautiful, smart and confident. A senior in high school applying to colleges and getting ready to make her own way in the world. I took a glance at my own 7 year old daughter and then looked at the tall 17 year old to my right and it was as if I was getting a sneak peak into the future. From 7 to 17…
My 7 year old still likes to cuddle, to tell me her secrets, her worries, and her dreams at night before bed. My 7 year old dresses up in fairy costumes and choreographs elaborate dance performances with her younger sister, eager to perform for any willing family member or audience. At 7, her heart is so pure and so big and open to everyone and everything it seems. At 7, she is feisty, capable, insatiably curious, smart, kind, brave and trusting. At 17, will she be the same? Will her authentic self shine or be clouded by hormones and typical teenage angst? At 17, will she still tell me everything about her day and curl up in my lap to cry when she’s had one of those terrible, horrible, no good days?
I don’t know what the future holds–none of us do–but I do know that I love this journey I’m on as a parent. I love the highs and I try my best to be patient and calm with the lows. My hope and my prayer is that both of our daughters will come away from their childhoods feeling unconditionally loved, supported and encouraged. I know deep down that there are so many things in store for our daughters that I have no control over. I can’t protect them from heartache or sadness or loss but I can build them up with love and acceptance and self-esteem. As parents, our actions and our words will echo in our child’s inner mind for decades after they’ve left our homes, but never our hearts, to create lives of their own.