In one week my oldest daughter is about to embark on a life long journey into adulthood. So many emotions- and for those of you who have had a child leave for the real world, you know what I am talking about.
I have been working on a video project for her- it’s a surprise- and it has me looking through a lot of old pictures. It reminds me of how fast and elusive time really is. Looking back at those memories makes me wonder where all that time has gone. So much time wasted on matters that are not important when compared to the BIG picture. I have a lot of regrets and I spent some time recently wishing I could have done certain things differently. I began to feel guilty, depressed, and angry. I then realized what a waste of time that was. I cannot change the past. God cannot even change the past. All I can do is make peace with it and learn from my mistakes.
This reminds me of the all the lessons I have learned so far in my life:
1. Be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes. When we do, don’t beat yourself up. Be kind to you and then make it right. It is never too late to apologize and to pick up the pieces and make it right again.
2. Forgive others. They too make mistakes. They need kindness as much as you do. Don’t take any offense personal. Forgive them and your life will be free to live fully. Forgive them and they too will forgive and the world is a much better place because of this.
3. Be grateful. Life is unfair and unkind sometimes and so you need to look at the good and be grateful for that. Don’t look at what you don’t have, but what you do. Be thankful for all the little things in life and you will see how rich you are.
4. Spread joy. You are never alone in your pain or confusion. Everyone is trying to make sense of this crazy life and so we all need a little hug, a little smile and a little encouragement. Spread joy and you will be more joyful.
5. Be giving. Some people only take in life and never give back. Refuse to be that person. Give with no strings attached or with no expectations. Some people just have nothing to give at the time and need to know there is someone who cares.
6. Be accepting. Sometimes we feel different from others. Accept yourself for who you are. Trust me, you are enough. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. And in return accept others who are different from you. They too feel awkward at times and rejected, so let them know they are okay too.
7. Be brave. It isn’t always easy to do the right thing. Sometimes you will lose friends, and sometimes you will be ridiculed for standing up for justice. Know that when you do what is right despite the outcome, you will be blessed. You will have made the world a little better. So be brave and swim against the current.
8. Set your priorities. It is important to know what is important in life and what isn’t. Family will always be number one. Sometimes, friends come and go, and so does stuff. Your family will always be there and will provide for you what you need. Our relationships with our family is much too valuable to just set aside.
9. Be humble. Don’t make the mistake of believing you are better than someone else. Don’t make the same equal mistake by thinking others are better than you. We are all equal children of God. A circle of diversed and messed up people. To not forgive or ask for forgiveness is to deny this very truth. Everyone is deserving of our love and kindness and especially our forgiveness. Treat others as you would like to be treated and you will have a fulfilling life! Always try and remember to concern yourself with how you treat others and not with how they treat you.
10. Have fun. Remember not to take life too seriously. Enjoy what is around you and who you are with. Smile, laugh and just have fun. Life is too short. As Bugs Bunny taught me, nobody has ever come out of life alive, so don’t take it too seriously. Bugs Bunny is wise! 🙂 Sometimes you learn a lot from a cartoon character.
You know what’s funny, when I look at all those wonderful lessons I learned? If it wasn’t for my mistakes and regrets, I may not have learned such valuable lessons. Life isn’t about being perfect, it is about enjoying the journey.
Stacy doesn’t know this yet, but she saved my life. I had to stop making destructive choices in my life and start living a life that would be a good example for her to follow. I learned the true meaning of unconditional love. I left a toxic relationship, received my Master’s degree in Education and became a teacher. Because of her and all of my children, I dedicated myself to becoming a better human being- not perfect but sucking less.
When I see her walk across that stage in her cap and gown, I will remember how she came into this world so small and innocent. I will remember how she took her first steps, and said her first words. I will remember her first time riding a bike, and catching her first fish. I will remember when she lost her first tooth, to getting her first period. I will remember her first heartbreak and how I had to console her when she was left out from birthday parties.
I wiped her tears and her bottom. I nursed her back to health when she was sick and I sacrificed my supermodel body for her (okay, maybe not so much a supermodel body).
Stacy and I have been through it all together. I truly believe those hard times shaped us both with the characteristics we possess today. She learned to become independent since I had to study and take classes to become a teacher. She learned to be responsible by taking care of her little brother. She learned that love shouldn’t hurt.
Now, I am witnessing some of the last moments with her. Her last high school volleyball game, and basketball game. Her last prom. Her being home with me every evening and telling me about her day. But with every ending there is a new beginning.
Life is full of changes. And changes means pain, and then joy.
I hope this girl can see how special she really is, and I can only hope that I was able to give her half of what she has given me.