I simply cannot believe it! My baby – my child – turns 21 today. Somebody please tell me where that time went? Honestly, it feels like just yesterday I was watching her take her first steps, watching her learn to swim, dropping her off to pre-school and sending her to high school. I blinked…just for a moment….and she’s turning 21. As important as her right of passage into adulthood is – and it’s huge – what I can’t stop thinking about is that despite all the mistakes her dad and I made as we were raising her, she turned out better than okay. Why? How did that happen?
It’s simple really.
Keep Moving Forward
I was so young and immature when I was pregnant – I certainly didn’t know how or what to say to my child. I didn’t read any pregnancy books, I didn’t have any close friends at that time who had raised a child, I wasn’t living a physically or mentally healthy lifestyle, and I wasn’t attending church. The outlook was grim for this unborn child, but thank goodness – I didn’t know it. I was scared, but also excited and looking forward to a mini me to raise and love. Looking back, I now realize I just jumped in. I let instinct rule, made some good choices and some mistakes, but never looked backwards.
“You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward” – Author unknown
Feed Positive Words
I’m honest when I tell you I didn’t really know what to do with a baby, but I knew that my own experience growing up in an environment with a lot of arguing and quite often hearing negative talk was not what I wanted for my child. I started speaking positive words to her even before she was born. I spoke to her about how beautiful she was, how smart she was, and how she was always going to make good decisions despite what was happening around her. I hadn’t read any research or heard any motivational speaker at this point, I just thought it might be a good idea, and it was!
“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” -Yehuda Berg
Pay Close Attention to the Company You Keep
The uber successful, life-changing guru Tony Robbins teaches that the quality of a person’s life is most often a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. I may not have done this intentionally as a new mom, but again, instinctively I have always sought to surround myself and my family with people who are where I want to be in all aspects of my life. I spent time with people who could mentor my daughter and teach her things I couldn’t. I filled our free time with people who have experienced great failures and used those struggles as stepping stones to success. I am attracted to people who challenge and push me out of mediocrity and into greatness. My daughter has watched this process over time and as a college student, she now seeks out those same qualities in her friends and mentors. If you really want to scare yourself right now (or pat yourself on the back) – think of the five people you spend the most time with and meditate on this:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
I wish I would have learned much earlier that all things are so much easier to handle when in prayer. Life isn’t always easy, and we don’t always know what decisions to make. In the times I’ve taken that burden off my shoulders and given it to God – He has never steered me wrong. He has walked with me through so many storms, and always extends His hand to help me up again. I’m always stronger, more experienced, and better equipped for the next storm because of His Grace and my faith. When my daughter calls me with good news or bad, I often respond, “Have you prayed about that?” I didn’t even realize that this has been my “go to” response, but when I asked her what she wanted for her 21st birthday, she told me she wanted another tattoo. My daughter is a very smart, beautiful, strong willed, and passionate young lady, and when her cousin passed away when she was just a teenager, she desperately wanted a tattoo to memorialize him. She loved him so much, and her request was impossible to say no to. So when she was just 16, she sat for her first tattoo, and has wanted another ever since. My daughter has always made good decisions, so I wasn’t freaked out by this birthday request. My heart was, instead, overfilled with love when she said “Mom, I want to get the word “Pray” in your handwriting tattooed on my wrist as a reminder of what I should always do in any situation. It’s what you’ve always told me to do, and it has worked well for me so far”. I was speechless, and proud and humbled in that moment.
“Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” – Matthew 7:7
To My Daughter on her 21st Birthday:
I could not be more proud of the young lady you have become. I wish every parent on the face of the earth to be blessed, as I have been – with a child who:
- Loves the Lord and puts Him first above all else
- Loves life and loves helping others
- Leads by example without looking for reward
- Smiles and cheers up a room
- Negotiates any situation to make it better
- Always sees the positive first
- Loves with all her heart
- Respects others and demands respect in return
- Doesn’t use profanity or ever take the Lord’s name in vain
- Appreciates nature and simplicity over material things
- Doesn’t judge and always finds the good in people, even when the good is hard to see
- Faces her fears head on
I love you to the moon and back and more than coffee! Happy 21st Birthday to my Sweet Baby Girl! Let’s go get that tattoo! You deserve it! Thank you for being the most amazing person I know! I’m proud of you, and I’m looking forward to many, many more adventures with you!