Motherhood and Cliche

My daughter is 16, going on college. I remember being pregnant worrying about what I would do if the baby was sick on a day I couldn't be off work. The worry was for nothing. My answer was clear the moment I saw my daughter for the very first time - all others would wait.  


I received more advice than I would truly ever ask for: day care is good; day care is bad; parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do; and enjoy it now, they grow up so fast. It was all so cliché, until it wasn’t. In the blink of an eye we moved from blankets and Barbies to swimming and shopping. Today, we have bathroom counters and bedroom floors not seen in weeks, nests of blankets and pillows and socks and clothes around the house, and a zippy-little RAV 4 that is barely idle between trips to school, coffee shops, and to meet up with friends. I’ve walked into a store or looked up from my purse at a cashier counter all too often to realize the pleasantries are not directed at me. The upbeat girls and googly-eyed boys are looking right past the lady with the money to talk with my daughter. 

Step by step, my daughter is creating a life of her own. I know this because I get to see her in action and because Instagram tells me so. This past summer, she was enjoying a few weeks out-of-state with a friend and her family. I hadn't heard from her for a few days so I took solace in my social media feeds. I opened Instagram and there she was on a sun-and-sand-filled beach linking arms and hugs with new friends. She was relaxed and owning the moment. In that instant, my little girl was gone and in her place was a strong, beautiful, young lady with a sense of humor, captivating blue eyes, and a smile to knock your socks off.

Everything I've known about myself and my day-to-day responsibility as a parent took a sudden and unexpected turn for me. With a full heart, I realized my work here is done; I was able to guide her safely to this point and give her what she needed to move forward with confidence and grace. 

Day care was good for us and parenting requires tough choices between standing your ground and putting your fears and doubts aside to give ground. Time has flown by yet growing up is not an end. As we move on to more dynamic social dilemmas, problem-solving, ACT preparation, campus tours, and college admissions applications I have the honor of being there for my daughter in a way no Instagram photo can capture or anyone other than the kid and I can appreciate.  For the forseeable future, all others will continue to wait.

Old habits die hard. 

Santa Chronicles: A Day in the Life Sunday

When the kid was born, I bought a book about favorite family traditions. I remember paging through it once. Just once. What I didn't realize when I first ordered the book, but intuitively knew with the first crack of the cover, is that memories are built on traditions.

Traditions are personal. You can't plan them, force them or bribe their way into your clan. You build them. The best traditions are the ones that spontaneously evolve because of who you and your family members are. They are not extracted from a book or a top 10 list. Instead, they are pure and simply - yours.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Photo credit: iStockphoto

When it comes to traditions, some things take while others do not. My attempt at creating an annual outing to the Nutcracker crashed and burned before the end of act one when the husband and kid fell asleep. Dreaming of sugar plum fairies? I think not. The Advent box was a hit the first year but coming up with 25 different items, small enough to fit into tiny wooden boxes proved too much of a stressor for me after candy, pennies and toddler underwear and mini trinkets lost their kid-appeal. Bye, bye baby.

Here are a few traditions that did take or are in the making as I write this:

  • Silly Santa had a "brilliant" idea to leave clues around the house for the kid to find one of her larger gifts. The chase is still on - for presents and my creativity.
  • Morning brunch with sticky buns.
  • Find the eggplant .... ornament. We had a pickle, but it broke.
  • Movie gift card from Santa for a family movie on Christmas Day.
  • Peacock feather tree topper. Thinking she'd want something pink and frilly, I was pleasantly surprised when the 6-year old picked out this elegant tree topper.
  • Crab legs on Christmas Eve. Boiled in a big pot on a small burner on the back deck in the midst of a MN winter. It's the experience, dude.
  • Growing up, my brother, sister and I opened 1-2 gifts on Christmas Eve. The kid opens gifts from my family in New York on Christmas Eve.
  • Rudolph, Frosty or Ms. Claus always leave small gifts under the kid's Christmas Tree in her bedroom.
  • Waking up at home on Christmas morning and if we leave the house, not doing so until afternoon.

I remember the one year, after wrapping all of the toddler's presents, we asked her what she hoped Santa would bring. "Pink presents," she replied. Do you know how hard it was to find pink wrapping paper 2 days before Christmas?

Will any of this make up for missing St. Nick's visits or failing to engage with Elf on a Shelf? Yes. If not, I'll put a few extra dollars in the kid's counseling fund developed for her to use when she wants to right all of my parenting wrongs.

What's your favorite family tradition?

By: Lisa Rosendahl