One of the most common and yet most rewarding parts of parenting is to take note and celebrate the amazing traits that God gives our children. Seeing your child have something amazing in her personality that she can offer to the world…a world that often seems to be in need of strength, compassion, love, forgiveness, patience, understanding…the list could go on and on, gives us reason to hope and believe, which I am always in favor of despite the odds and statistics. I know that human beings have all of these qualities in abundance to offer the world, especially if we can keep clear minds and hearts, but as the years go by and life happens, it can be hard to keep our best qualities shining.
Last night, as I drove home after taking in Moonlight Yoga under the full blood moon at Terranea Resort (simply amazing!) with Lauren, who turns 18 today, I was thinking about how I could honor the amazing kid that she has been from day one to the adult (legally) that she becomes today with my words. It’s become a tradition for me to write something to each of the four of them on their birthday's that they can hang on to in the years to come.
One of my standard lines to someone when their jaw drops that I have four kids (because frankly, by modern day standards, it just sounds like a lot!) is that there are so many of them because I thought raising kids was like raising Lauren. I’ve often joked that she has raised herself, while helping to raise the other three at the same time, setting the bar high with her example, and the physical work she puts in. She inspires with her drive and work ethic, and sets an unparalleled model for her younger siblings that they have the fortune to think is normal. While all of these traits have made our family a richer, more blessed place to be because of the kid that she is, last night, I arrived at the three traits, as I listened to her talk about real world issues that weigh on her heart on the way home from yoga, that I admire in her most.
EMPATHY - It’s so much different than sympathy, and yet difficult for a deep soul to absorb without letting your energy to be depleted. Lauren, you feel so sincerely what other people need, and yet seem to intuitively know how to retreat to protect yourself and not become jaded. This is such a hard lesson to learn for most empaths, but you have wisely figured out that a long drive with your music or a nap on the beach by yourself can restore you in ways that heal your soul and continue to let you be a light to the people around you. You feel, you give, and you let go of control of things that are not yours to hold in ways that make such a mark on the people that cross your path. As your mom, I couldn’t be more proud, but hope I have protected you enough from all you take in. This vision comes naturally to you ,and your soul is ever so much older than 18 today because of that.
STRENGTH - Because of the empathetic gene that you have and life circumstances, you have been challenged, as we all are at some point, to handle situations that as a parent, I would rather have you not have to wrestle. One of the greatest challenges of parenting though is to sit back and observe and support, rather than swoop in and try to fix. I have watched you take in situations in the world where extreme pain and human imperfections are at the forefront, all without losing your optimism and zest for life. You know how to balance what keeps you strong, taking care of your body, mind and spirit in a way that not only benefits you but the people who are in your life. You have a knack for seeking out what fulfills you, setting goals based on that and using your strength to make your own dreams come true. Because of this strength, you ask so little of me, and reward me with so much…but know, no matter how strong, everyone needs a soft place to land, I will always be that for you, don’t ever be afraid to ask or think you will disappoint. It’s simply not possible.
FORGIVENESS - Although it’s hard to rank these qualities, and the abundance of other wonderful traits you possess, your ability to forgive others and love with a full heart is amazing. You seem to take life like you would a volleyball game, point by point, never getting down and always believing that you and the people you love will win in the end, even if not in the moment. You are quick to forgive a slight and yet always wiser in your words and actions for what you have experienced. I am always amazed at what that kind of life can be attained with that attitude and resilience that you have learned from a young age. In the words of my new favorite Dierks Bentley song "You Can't Bring Me Down"
“But its true what they say about forgiveness, once you find it man, there ain’t nothing that can hold you back…” this couldn’t be more true in my book and you exemplify this every day.
LT - I could write a novel on all the things there are to celebrate about you, maybe someday I will. For today, know that you are more loved and respected that even you could ever imagine. I hope you feel it, covering you in every step of your day. You are and incredible creature and you are never alone…we are here for you always, you don’t always have to strengthen us, we are here to do the same for you.
I love you forever! Love, Mom