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My little girl started 2nd grade today.  She was a little nervous, I was a lot nervous, but the morning went off without a tear from either of us!  You know, I think grown-ups forget all to quickly how hard it is to be a kid.  I am so proud of how brave she has been through school transition this year.  We took her out of private school (where I also happened to work) and enrolled her in the public elementary school up the street.

It’s her first time in a public school (her dad and I both went to public) and I won’t lie – I was scared.  We were leaving a private school, I used to call it my “happy little bubble”, a place where she went to work with me every single day for four years.  If she got sick, she came to my office.  If she needed a hug, she came to my office.  I was never far away.  But, as I’ve blogged about before – things changed.  The happy bubble became less happy and I needed to move on.

Last Friday was the meet and greet at school.  It was a time to bring all your school supplies up, see where your desk is, say hi to your teacher.  Jordan was nervous.  She had a lot of questions about riding the bus.  We got to school and I could immediately tell that this was going to be an awesome school year.  The building was buzzing with energy.  The teachers were excited to see the kids.  The kids were excited to see the teachers.  Genuinely excited.  You could feel it.

So, today was the day.  Our first morning at our new school.  Here are some photos before the bus arrived:

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As many of you already know, I’m a mom.

And, like many of you moms (and dads) out there – a busy one.

I can’t count the number of times I hear my name screamed, whined, or just called out for every single day.

Its been a stressful few months and just when I think I can’t hear that name again or think about the stress of life, I get to go to Walgreens.  By. Myself.

Yes, Walgreens.

I just got back from 10 minutes of an open sunroof, windows down, music cranked up loud (tonight, it was the Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet singing Knee Deep) and all of a sudden, I’m not in St. Louis anymore.  I’m not really sure where I am, but its warm, there is a beach nearby and for 10 minutes I don’t think of anything that causes me stress.  It’s really a beautiful thing.

Where do you escape for 10 minutes and what do you listen to on your way there??

I love people.  I love talking to people.

I love hearing people talk.

Well, most people.

But, you know what’s better than talking?

When you shut your mouth and listen.

Just listen.

You might hear a friend who is struggling with her career.

You might hear a mom who is worried about her daughter.

You might hear a sister who is working on her marriage.

You might hear a husband who needs your attention.

You might hear a colleague who is figuring out of she belongs.

You might hear a daughter who just wants to play a game of Memory.

You might hear a son who wants you to put down your phone and play Legos.

You know, sometimes people don’t want to talk to you because they need you to solve their problem.  Sometimes they want to be able to look into your eyes and know that you’re really listening and that you truly care.

So the next time someone comes to you to talk.  Before you interrupt to tell them how to fix it or tell them what you did when it happened to you.

Stop.

Wait.

Listen.  Just listen.  They’ll appreciate it because you will have made them feel like in that moment – they were the most important thing in your life.  And that should make you both feel good.

I knew it would happen some day.  I just didn’t know when.

Or how hard it would hit.

She’s growing up.

I remember worrying about how much formula she was getting.  Deciding which solid food to give her first.  Her first fever.  Her first cold.  What I wouldn’t give for those to be my worries today.

We had a rough day.  Sure, she’s 6..almost 7.  But, she tested me today.

As a parent, I think we all want our kids to be good kids.  We want them to be truthful.  We need them to be kind.  We want them to do their best.  We sat down tonight and talked.  She knows what her punishment is and we will stick to it, but more important than that was explaining to her that as a family how important it is to be able to trust one another. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we have this conversation.  I know that this is just the beginning.

To be completely honest though, it wasn’t really what she did that was so bothersome to me.  It was the realization that the days of worrying about what seemed so monumental 6 years ago are over.  Ouch.  Big ouch.

To my little girl:  Be kind, be brave, be truthful, do your best.  And don’t ever, ever, ever lose your smile and that great belly laugh we have all grown to love.

I’ve been what I call a “Debbie Downer” lately.  Complaining, whining, always finding ways to make the conversation be about my problems.  Ewww…who wants to hang out with someone like that?  I don’t.

Then, it hit me.  I need to wake up every morning and make the choice to be happy.

It’s that simple.

So, that’s what I do.  I wake up, take a shower, get ready for work, get the kids ready for school, get out the door and choose to be happy.  When I start to slip to the other side, all I have to do is pull up a news website or turn on the TV and I realize, fairly quickly, that my life is really quite good.

If you’re having a down day, these are a few of the things that make me happy:

  1. Listening to a baby (any baby) laugh.  Really laugh.
  2. Listening to my 6 year old read at night.
  3. The smell of whatever I put in the crockpot that morning when I open up the back door after a long day at work.
  4. A good, sweaty run on my treadmill.
  5. Clean sheets.
  6. Being on the beach.
  7. Exploring a new city with my husband.
  8. Trying new restaurants.
  9. A good margarita.
  10. Watching KU Basketball.
  11. Talking to a good friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  The words can’t come out fast enough.
  12. My Best Friend’s Wedding.  I love that movie.
  13. Listening to my 6 year old sing to her Taylor Swift CD.
  14. Trying new coffee shops, but always happy to see a Starbuck’s.
  15. Wooden toys.  There’s just something so old school about them that I love.
  16. Seeing live music or shows.
  17. Knitting.
  18. Laughing until I cry.
  19. Watching my kids play.
  20. Warm socks right out of the dryer.

Oh, and this:

He was determined to get those sand toys back up to our room all by his self.   So, he did.  He walked every last step and I loved watching every minute of it.

Photo by @caron

I might be one of the very few who is annoyed by the “kids say the darnedest things” you find in almost every parenting magazine.  I always read them and think that the parent probably made it up just to get their kids in a magazine.  Maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know.

Every night after I read with my daughter, we do “happy thoughts”.  Happy thoughts are just that, things that made her happy during the day.  They range from lunch, to  recess, to math, to reading, you get the picture.  It’s always fascinating to me to hear the simple things that make her happy.  And, frankly, it puts my day into perspective.

Tonight though, I was amazed and proud at the conversation we had following her happy thoughts.  She was explaining to me that she doesn’t understand why people use the word ‘hate’.  Today at lunch a kid at her table said that she “hates pie”.  My daughter said, “Mom, why couldn’t she have just said, “I really don’t like pie.”  Hate is such a bad word”.  Yes, my love it is.

I know as she gets older and learns more about the world that she might be more jaded and pessimistic.  What I hope she holds onto forever is the belief that “hate is such a bad word”.  Why?  Because it just is.  While she was going into way more detail about the conversation, about how she told her friend to just say “I really don’t like pie”, and how everyone talked over her, I allowed myself to just imagine for a second…What if?  What if we lived in a world without hate.  I can’t even conceive what that would look like.

I know life isn’t easy, it’s not always simple.  But if we could all, for a moment stop judging, stop talking, stop guessing what others are thinking, stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on being our best self for us or for our children – do it.  Those are all things we have control over.  Will that eliminate hate or anger worldwide?  Nope.  But, it will make your corner of the world a little bit better.  I guarantee that.

April 2017
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