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My head has been reeling with my daughter in her senior year of high school.  I have one that has already graduated, so this.is.my.last.year….

Granted my kids will be home, but it’s the end of an era…and it hurts ….

Nineteen years ago, I gave up corporate life (literally decades of building my position) to stay home with a cute, cherub faced, pink cheeked blue eyed girl.  And two years later, a fiery red head, who I used to call Tigger and Bam Bam rolled into one.  As the hubs said, when she came into the world, she kicked down the doors and said, “Shits gonna change around here”.  Boy was he right!!!

Having children changes EVERYTHING!  Any decision you ever make in your life now impacts your children.  So many decisions from day one.  It was overwhelming. And as much as I would like to say the adjustment was a certain period of time, truth is, it’s never ending.  I will forever be my kids parents, even when I’m gone.  I don’t take that lightly.

I am fortunate to still have my mom, but lost my dad almost 20 years ago.  My dad would have adored my girls.   And he would have laughed MUCH over the years with all my little red head has put me through. I know this because my mom laughs too.  She is me through and through!

That said, as I reflect back on the last 19 years of my life, having had one graduate and knowing the others in her last year, is going to rip my heart out.  I can’t help but see where I went right and where I went wrong.  And I have to live with it.

I told my kids over the course of their lives that I will screw them up, and they will let me know how later.  And they have… But they accept it all with grace. And I’m grateful.  As I have stated before, none of us are perfect parents, we simply do the best we can.

I was chatting with a fellow mom this morning, and realized how many sacrifices we make for our kids.  The word, “Parenting” comes with a heavy load that no human was totally ready for when they had kids…

Parenting means having liquid plans at all times: If you are working on a project and you get a call that your kid is sick…you ditch your project, pick up your kid and care for them.  Or finding out just hours before, there is a project due and your child hasn’t started it… Every good parent has had to drop what they are doing and turn left or right instead of going straight.

Parenting means having a village: This is a big one…I couldn’t have raised my kids without my village; the teachers, dance teachers, private instructors, tutors, grandparents, friends, other moms, girl scout leaders, aunts, uncles, besties… and more… By the time your kids turn 18, there have been so many influences that have touched their lives to help them to grow.  They become a small part of everyone that touches their lives!

Parenting is biting your tongue for the sake of saving your breath for another argument: As kids grow, so do their opinions… Some stronger than others… Parenting is about taking that pause and deciding whether it’s something to debate, or simply accept that your child is turning into their own little person…which takes me to the next….

Parenting is picking your battles: If I had a dime for every time my husband tried to jump in the middle of something that wasn’t a battle and made it bigger than it was … and if I had a dime for every time he talked me off the ledge… I’m so thankful to have him by my side, because we have learned together over the years what to fight and what to let go.  It’s a delicate balance and we don’t have it down 100  percent, but we are way closer than we were… Some things are just not worth the fight because of the risk of pushing your kid away.  Conversely, there are things to pursue to the death because they are principles or life skills that will carry your child for ward…. let the rest go….

Parenting is giving of yourself completely: There is no shortcut here.  You are the FOUNDATION of all that is your kid.  As a parent it’s our job to make sure they know right from wrong,  and that they learn to navigate the waters of life that are ever changing.  Which brings me to my next …..

Parenting is giving your kids the tools for life…This one is a slippery slope and it pertains to each family as they see it.. We all have our own belief systems, so your views will be personal to you.  This comes down to the right and wrongs of life; The Ten Commandments; and Treat others as you wish to be treated, etc.  It’s about teaching kids responsibilities and slowly letting them fall more and more as they grow, so they can learn to pick themselves up and “straighten up and fly right”.  We all raise our kids differently and respecting our differences is very important.  This also leads to huge teaching moments for kids.  When my daughters would come home and talk about how another kid acted which was not in alignment with how we act, it was time to sit down and discuss how it should be handled that is in alignment with our beliefs, not theirs.  We can’t control everyone around us.  We can only work toward showing our kids how to react based on our home belief systems… Too many parents are more anxious to set someone else’s kid out to be a tyrant and correct the parents, instead of simply having a conversation about it with their own kid, which leads me toooo…..

Parenting is being judged…HARSHLY at times.  Boy aint this the truth?? I won’t lie..I have judged.  I have also eaten crow….and it doesn’t taste good…which is why it’s better to have a conversation at home with your own family to navigate tough situations.  We don’t have to agree with how someone else raises their kid.  It’s not our responsibility.. I have told me kids from early on, “Just wait and see what happens in the future”.  This is both for good and for bad.  I have been witness to some kids who I knew were going down a wrong path, and the parents weren’t dealing with it.  I told my kids that in a few years, the parents will have other issues to deal with in relation to the kids and I am sad to say I was right.  And my kids witnessed it as well, without further words from me.  I have also seen other kids soar under the support of their families…  There is always good and bad around us, but I do my best to live by humble words (although I do fail at times).  Judge not, lest YE be judged…

Parenting means doing your part (which means MORE giving).  This one gets me BIGTIME…I’m fortunate, I know, but from day one, I have been in the classrooms, giving back to the programs that help raise my kids.  It’s a sad fact that most programs in school need support from outside sources to succeed.  Parental support is crucial, and as I look back and realize the time I put in not only made a difference to the teachers, but the kids as well.  I know not all parents can volunteer, and some plainly choose not to. I used to resent those parents on a GRAND scale.  But the truth is, what I have gained from my time that I put in is 100 fold worth the sacrifice.  I could write a whole blog post on volunteering (and maybe I already have).  But what I have noticed is, there is a HUGE difference between being present for your kids (which is awesome) and putting in the time for the sake of your kids.  I have been blessed to be a part of my daughters journey with dance and now pep squad.  In all the years of my girls dancing, I was never able to sit and watch their shows, because I was fortunate enough to be shooting their shows.  I have no regrets.  And neither do they.  I love Hamilton’s line, “When you got Skin in the game, you stay in the game!”  My kids know I got skin in the game, and over the years they have become proud of what I have to offer them.   The work is hard, but the rewards are great when you see a program come together, successfully, and know that you had some part in it all, which brings me to…

Parenting is giving, when  you have nothing left to give..This is closely related to volunteering, but also encompasses so much more… It’s when you have the flu, but so does your child, so you make them soup when you just want to be dead in your bed.  It’s saying yes, when you want to say no.  It’s giving your last dollar at times so your kid can contribute and donate to the bake sale…You just… do….

and Finally….

Parenting is never having a day off!  I know there are sprinkles of this throughout the post.  But it’s true.  From the day you give birth (or your baby comes into the world). You are ALL In!!  There are no take backs, no do overs… it’s ALL YOURS BABY!!  I will never forget when our oldest was a few weeks old.  She kept pooping diaper after diaper in the middle of the night.  I looked at my husband, EXHAUSTED… and said, “I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!”  I was so tired.  I couldn’t see straight!  I truly wasn’t prepared for the all consuming, 24 hour, 7 days a week “stuff” that came with parenting.

But as I sit here, reflecting back on all we made it through…the good, the bad and the ugly.. I realize that the rewards can be so great!

Through our hectic schedules, I made dinner and in some miraculous way, we were all home together and had dinner outside in the warm summer air.  We all had something to say about our day.  Some good, some bad… #lifewithred.  But we all contributed. We all listened.  We all laughed.  And I sat back and looked around and took it all in.  I know it’s not “over” but as a parent, you learn to take in the moments and realize that THIS… THIS MOMENT… is what it was all for!!  This moment of coming together and connecting and sharing and laughing.  All those sacrifices were worth it for THIS MOMENT!!  And the older the kids get, the more you realize that the moments become fewer and fewer.  And at the same time, they become richer and richer…like hot fudge.

I admit. My kids haven’t been that difficult in their lives.  But I would be remiss in thinking that my hours put in didn’t count.  Exhausting….yes… Perfect, NO WAY… work in progress….ALWAYS…..Content?  You bet!!! (for today anyways!)