"When They Asked What I Like Best, I'll Say It Was You." - Meg Ryan, City of Angels
The day I realized I was going to be a mom, my life changed. My euphoria was followed by "OMG!" as I realized the responsibility of bringing someone into the world. I couldn't wait to meet the miracle inside of me. Then the day came. It knew that after I pushed that last time, my baby would be separate from me...then she was here. "Hi, Noelle, I'm your mommy. Welcome to the world." The doctor snipped the cord. Then, she was her and I was me.
Being a parent is the most selfless gift. Your job is to give this person, who is your heart outside yourself, everything, while grooming them to someday leave you and go into the world. With our children, we have a beautiful interchange --each of us being the other's greatest teacher. Here's what being a parent has taught me.
True Love. When your kids are little, taking care of them can be exhausting, but their adoration, hugs and kisses make up for it. Around age 13, you - the person who held their head up when they didn't have neck control, wiped butts and boogers, taught them to read, write, ride a bike, tie their shoes, brush their teeth - magically knows nothing, and are reduced to an ATM, chauffer and cook! Then, I thought about what it means to truly love someone. Wayne Dyer said, "Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." While it's easy to adore a baby, teenage years are difficult, but my child isn't here to make me happy. She's on her own path. I need to guide her, loving her enough to let her be who she wants to be, not someone I only love when she pleases me.
Lead by Example. I'm one of biggest influences of her life. Initially, I thought a mom was supposed to sacrifice everything for their kids. Not only is that unhealthy and unrealistic, it doesn't teach children to solve their own problems or manage their lives. The best thing I could do for her is to put myself first, so I developed myself - physically, mentally and spiritually, explored my soul purpose, became more confident, self aware and happy. I also told Noelle that my goal was to be her guardian, protector and teacher - she was a gift God had given to me. "The sooner we learn that parenthood is not about us, the more fulfilling the journey will be for parent and child. When my daughter was young, I told her - that my duty is to love her unconditionally, protect her and support her, as a gift that has been entrusted to me. My intentions would not be to control her, but to help her live up to her full potential. Now, as a teenager, many of the typical obstacles that occur during the adolescent years have been eliminated, because I consistently reinforced my intentions, and actions speak louder than words," Marcella Mollon-Willams.
Learn How to Listen. Recently, Noelle said THE WORDS, "you don't understand me". "How can you say that?" I asked, "You're my baby." "But, I'm not a baby anymore. I have all these feelings; you wouldn't understand," she said. I reeled...but she was right. She was changing, and I needed to see her for who she was becoming, not who she used to be. "Okay, you talk; I'll listen." We talked for hours. I promised to listen more, and while she would always be my baby, we entered a new phase of our relationship.
Re-discovering Me. I study this new person who's inhabited the body of my baby. I miss my little girl. I've built my identity around her, and enjoyed every moment, and she's now doing exactly what I've raised her to do - be independent; so, instead of feeling sad about my pseudo empty nest, I'm doing things I haven't had time for, and I'm enjoying me!. When she's with friends, I pick up her things, because one day, they won't be there. I appreciate the countless gifts she's made me, pictures, nicks in the floor, smile at the memories, then get dressed, put on lipstick, heels and go out.
Loving is Letting Go. The Dalai Lama said, "Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay." Change is hard, but I love who my daughter is becoming. I've raised a girl who is resilient, kind, conscious, prayerful and compassionate. I've taught her to love her uniqueness, carefully select her tribe, care for her inner self and to stay centered. Gale Paige feels, "It's important to give children the right to make their own choices. Start when they're young, show them there are consequences to their choices and LISTEN. Don't criticize. In allowing them their own determinism, you build women who think for themselves, own their choices, and lessons learned, and they'll make better decisions."