My girl, Ella, just turned TWELVE. I am still bewildered by it. Surely that much time hasn’t passed since I first held that 10-pound bundle in my arms.
Well, my gray hairs and forehead wrinkles tell me a different story.
I love birthdays. Really, I love any and all reasons for celebration; I always have. My people have a knack for making birthdays special. My mom would always wake me up at the time I was born. My Grandma Bushaw would always call and sing “Happy Birthday.” I’ll never forget my sixteenth birthday, my mom brought a Smurf cake to school for me to share with my friends - I still remember sitting in Mrs. Wille’s science room with it. Anyway, I try to make Ella’s birthdays amazing. Whatever I can do to make her day special, I’ll do it. Her birthday this year included an entire mini lemon meringue pie for breakfast, two new books, lunch with her sweet friend, Miky, dance class with her favorite people, and finished with the finale of America’s Got Talent. She’s been telling everyone it was the best birthday ever.
This is where I pat myself on the back and bask in my great accomplishments.
But, oh - there was ALSO that year she turned seven. We were just coming out of one of the hardest summers ever with three deaths in our family, and we tacked on a move in the fall as well. I hadn’t been functioning at 100% in months, and soon it was September. Ella’s birthday was the farthest thing from my mind. Her birthday came, and we acknowledged it, of course, but there was no party, no grand celebration. It was the end of October before we had a party for her with her friends. To this day, she checks in with me months before her birthday to make sure I haven’t put it on the back-burner.
So, no - I am not always on my game.
I’ll stop patting myself on the back now. No more basking in my great accomplishments.
I try to be a good mom.
I try to be a fun mom.
I try to remember to do all of the things that will make my girl’s world a little brighter.
I mess up every day.
I lose my temper.
I am impatient.
Some days are amazing. Others are nothing but a struggle. Of course, we post ALL of the pictures on our kids’ birthdays because we have put SO much thought into that day and everything is perfect: they’re wearing clothes that match, their hair is brushed, the house is clean, everyone is smiling. But gosh dangit, I don’t have the energy to be that intentional every.single.day. There is so much effort behind those perfect moments. If I rank my days by the standard of Ella’s birthdays, my lack of attention to her seventh birthday runs basically on a loop through my mind. And I just hate that.
Have you ever done dream-casting? I was introduced to the practice by Rachel Hollis, and I so enjoy it. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the idea: Choose a point in the future. It could be any amount of time, really; my favorite to think about is ten years. You imagine what you want your life to look like, and be as specific as possible. Don’t limit your thoughts, or worry about the steps and process; that comes later. Dream-casting is when you, well, dream big. Don’t limit yourself by thinking how preposterous your ideas may be; be honest with yourself and let your dreams flow. (Here's a link to an article about Hollis in Success Magazine, describing her practice.)
My ten-year vision currently involves a TWENTY-TWO year old human who will likely be entering her senior year of college, and in that vision, I have given her my very best and have inspired her to seek God and to be her best self. She knows how to dream big, work hard, and celebrate well. She knows this because it’s been modeled to her by her mama. One of the points of forming that ten-year vision is to create steps and implement them, every day to get to that point in ten years. Y’all, I feel that as a responsibility. And it’s weighty. And there are certainly some days I don’t think my actions are going to get me there.
But. Most days I do. Parents, I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for all of the good we do. Like with Ella’s birthdays, we just happen to focus on and remember the days we’re not at our best. Remember, we’re human; we’re not perfect. We’re going to mess up. But largely, the times we mess up are not going to ruin our children.
((Disclaimer: there are some non-negotiables here. Our children should always feel cared for; kept healthy; supported for their greater good. There are some things you could do - or not do - that will harm your children. My readers are intelligent; know the line, okay?))
If I am exhausted from starting back to work full time, and I don’t make a full, warm breakfast for my daughter, she is going to learn that sometimes transitions and new schedules are hard and life needs to adjust. If I forget to show up for my volunteer spot in her classroom, she is going to learn that sometimes the world is unexpected and busy; or maybe that writing commitments down in the calendar is an important skill. If I tell her she cannot join TikTok, she is learning that there are boundaries, and that getting a handle on the physical world first is more important than navigating social media. If I choose to homeschool my daughter for a year, she is learning that sometimes we have to make hard choices in the best interest of our family.
If I make a big deal out of my daughter’s birthday, she learns that celebration is important. If I wake up in the morning and read my Bible, she learns that spending time with God is essential to the day. If I watch a really stupid (but perfectly appropriate) YouTube video with her that she just LOVES, she learns that you can do hard things for the people you love.
All of these scenarios are real. I have good days and I have bad days. We have birthday celebrations like her twelfth birthday, and off-years like number seven. But through it all, I’m teaching her to navigate this imperfect world, and shine as her best self through it all. So, maybe I’ll pat myself on the back after all. Parents, give yourself the credit ... we’re doing hard work…we’re doing just fine.
Sending you all of the love,
My name is Miranda and I'm a mom, spouse, dance teacher, and entrepreneur. I’m going to share my life with you. The good, the bad, the weird. I hope to inspire you, encourage you, make you laugh. I’ll be honest. And I can’t wait to learn more about you through it all.