It seems like only yesterday when I walked my little girl into kindergarten. At first, fingers tightly gripped mine, but quickly let go as the bubbly teacher began her masterful distraction so that all parents could make a stealth exit. Fighting back the tears and feeling that deep, deep tug at the core of my being, I walked away, my stride in lock-step with my heartbeat. Happiness soon returned as I reminded myself that this was only the beginning of a 12-year journey, thinking that somehow time was on our side. Fast forward, the inches crept, baby cheeks shed, independence arrived, and in a flash, just like that, she was a freshman in high school.
This week, I watched my 5’5’’, teenaged daughter step out of the car and into the big school on the hill, the one we’ve driven by for years, imagining the day she would be there. Anxiously, she took deep breaths, opened the car door as if she were about to take her first jump from the high dive. “Bye, mamma,” she said confidently, without a kiss or a hug. Fighting back the tears again, I watched her fade into the sea of students and backpacks.
Now I was the one taking deep breaths. It suddenly dawned on me that I only have four years left with her in my nest to instill the strength and emotional tools she’ll need to fly away to college and beyond— only four years left to show her how Loving On Me can help her learn to Love On Herself.
My parking lot epiphany reminded me to hit the reset button because time is about to crank up the dial to warp speed. Don’t get me wrong. I know parenthood lasts a lifetime. But I believe these next four years will require endurance and focus. Dating, driving and the deluge of peer pressure will put my parental skills to the test, not to mention how I attempt to juggle a career in the midst of all of this.
I’ve started a list of things I should continue or start to help me tune in to teachable moments that set the stage for my daughter’s future – things we can do that are focused on Loving On Me:
• Have daily quiet time and devotion.
• Attend church together regularly. Learn about what it truly means to be a child of God.
• Exercise regularly. Take walks with my daughter.
• Put the phone down – both of us. Create space each day where technology is off limits and take time to connect and actually talk about our days.
• Demonstrate how not to allow others to steal our joy.
• Teach her more about cooking and eating healthy.
• Plan mother-daughter trips at least once per year, including a mission trip one day.
• Reward ourselves for hitting goals, i.e. massage, pedi/mani, shopping
• Have family time once per week with grandmother.
• Teach us both better financial planning skills and how to manage money.
• Make plans regularly with my friends/her friends, cook together, dine together, travel together.
All of these are ways to practice self-care and Love On Me, setting a good model for my daughter, and hopefully helping her to acquire a taste for similar lifestyle choices.
There are many more things I could include, but I want to hear from you. Will you share your wisdom on how parents, grandparents and other friends can empower our high school kids? What can we do to cement life-building knowledge into their minds and souls that help them to Love On Themselves vs. cave in to pressures that can have monumental consequences?