Eighteen years ago she came into my life and made me a mother. I didn’t know then how deep a mama’s heart could love or how much truth there was in the following words, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” –Elizabeth Stone
This girl of mine: she continues to amaze me each day. It’s like she got the best of her Dad and myself – then improved upon those traits. And yet, she’s her very own person, one-of-a-kind, and so much fun! I’m a proud mama.
High school graduation is quickly approaching. This milestone is bittersweet. What an honor and a privilege it has been to watch my daughter grow into the person she is today. I’m excited to see what’s next for her and also a little sad to say goodbye to her childhood. Mostly, though, it’s gratitude that overwhelms me right now.
I’m a proud mom. But more than that, I’m humbled.
Eighteen years ago, fiercely independent (and in labor), I drove myself to where her Dad was, so we could go to the hospital together.
It didn’t take long to realize that parenting was going to be both harder (and more wonderful) than I ever could have imagined. Over time, I needed to set aside some of that fierce independence and adopt a little more humility. I couldn’t do everything on my own – not if I wanted to give my daughter what was best for her.
It takes a village to raise a child. And it’s to the “village” that I want to say thank you. My daughter is a great kid. As parents, my husband and I are proud – but we both know, the credit must be shared.
Many of you will never know how your actions have touched the life of a child in a positive way (and in turn, the lives of the people who love that child). Please know you are appreciated and loved. There were many of you who helped us along the way, who’ve loved our girl, taught her, encouraged, and inspired her. Thank you.
1. To the church nursery volunteer who held my baby for an hour each week so I could go to the service, you gently told this tired mom that, “babies cry…and it’s okay”. You were right. It seems so simple now – but as a new mama who thought her baby’s crying signaled her personal failure as a mother, those words were like a life raft thrown to a drowning woman.
2. To Great Grandma, you showered my baby girl with beautiful clothes and gifts; you helped us with our down payment on our first home. We needed that helping hand and we appreciated it.
3. To those very first caregivers at daycare, it was hard to leave my baby for the first time after I went back to work – but you made it easier. Knowing my girl was in capable loving hands, in a clean and safe environment helped ease that transition
4. To our extended family, Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, and Uncles…you’ve all been a source of love and support. We wouldn’t want to do it without you.
5. To the schoolteachers, you are heroes. I know that what you do is hard (and you that don’t get paid nearly enough). You have one of the most important jobs that exist. You’re shaping our future. But on a more personal level, thank you for loving my child. My girl has had some great teachers, teachers who have taken the time to show interest in who she is as an individual, who have nurtured her natural curiosity and love for learning and have helped her to grow intellectually.
6. To the dance teachers and coaches, it was always about much more than dance. You were teaching her about life. You were teaching her about discipline, poise under pressure, hard work, setting and completing goals, and about teamwork. One of you has spent so much time with her that you’ve almost been like a second mom.
7. To children’s librarians, babysitters, Sunday-school teachers, youth pastors, music teachers, kind neighbors, fellow parents who hosted parties and sleepovers, those who volunteered in classrooms and after-school activities, camp counselors, doctors, nurses, swim instructors, friends, and the taxpayers who voted to fund the great schools and parks…thank you. I know I’m barely scratching the surface as I name the different people who have played a part in my daughter’s life. There have been so many.
There are so many good and caring people who invest themselves into the lives of children. These are people who make this world a sweeter place. These are people worth honoring.
As we approach the time of year when another class of high school graduates prepares to take their diplomas and begin a new chapter of their lives, let’s be sure to celebrate our kids and their accomplishments. This next generation has a bright future ahead of them. These are amazing kids, widely known for their empathy, compassion, and some really sharp minds. We have a lot we can be proud of.
If you’re a new parent, just starting out on this journey, please know, you’re not alone. Reach out for help when you need it. Nobody expects you to do this on your own. It takes a village to raise a child.
Maybe you’re a parent, like me, who’s getting ready to say goodbye to the childhood years, or perhaps your kids have been grown for some time. Take a moment to say thank you to the people who helped you along the way. You could pass along the kindness you’ve been shown by helping another parent or child. Not everyone has family around to help love and support them as they care for their children. Get involved. Here’s where we have an opportunity to show love. Please, don’t let it pass by.
My daughter’s senior year of high school has brought out all my big feelings. I’m not usually an emotionally demonstrative kind of person, but I’m warning you – if you’re one of the dear people who helps kids, anyone’s kids, and if you see me anytime between now and my daughter’s graduation, you’re likely to get a hug from me.
“Everybody in a village had a role to play in bringing up a child—and cherishing it—and in return that child would in due course feel responsible for everybody in that village. That is what makes life in society possible. We must love one another and help one another in our daily lives. That was the traditional African way and there was no substitute for it. None.” –Alexander McCall Smith, The Full Cupboard of Life
Dawn Klinge writes at Above the Waves, a Christian living blog, where she offers encouragement for daily life. She’s an author, wife, and mother of two, an 18-year old daughter and a 13-year-old son. You can also follow Dawn on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.