Caitlin, I’ll never forget the day I found out that I was pregnant and that soon I would be a mom. I was excited, nervous, and terrified all at the same time. The thought of being a mother was the beginning of a new part of my life. Starting with a new sense of responsibility in my life and highlighted awareness of every thought and action and how they would impact you. Knowing that you would rely on me for everything at first felt daunting and overwhelming. At the time I was just 22, which seemed like I had just stepped into adulthood myself. How could I possibly be a role model and teach you everything you would need to know to live and love in this crazy world.
What I know now is that I was never really the teacher, I was the student. Caitlin has taught me so much about life. She taught me about the meaning and feeling of true love. The joy of new experiences and getting up every time you fall down with even more determination. The gift of life and self awareness and the meaning of forgiveness. Being a mother has been the lesson and Caitlin the reward for every fearful moment, tear shed and proud smile.
The last 21 years has gone by in a blur and now my baby girl is herself an adult. She is caring and beautiful in how she brings her whole heart to every experience. Always the first person to offer to help and gives with her whole heart. I certainly am not a perfect parent, but looking at her I am confident that we did more things right than wrong.
So in honor of Caitlin’s 21st birthday I thought I’d share 21 things I wish I had known when you were born.
1. You are loved! No matter what you will face you have the support you need. I couldn’t have raised you without the love and support of grandparents and aunties. Always keep close those that love you without expectation.
2. Love yourself first! No matter what you’d like to improve or change about yourself you are the best you in this moment. Give credit to yourself for all that you’ve accomplished and celebrate every success.
3. You are your own best teacher. You will always know yourself better than anyone else can. Listen to your own wisdom. Be gentle with your own heart and above all give yourself love.
4. Practice gratitude everyday. Living a life of gratitude is the key to a life of joy. No matter what is happening connect to the gratitude of it.
5. Be authentically you. Life is not a race or a competition so be who you want to be. Do it with grace, humility and unapologetically.
6. Make mistakes! Don’t be fearful of mistakes, they are gems of opportunity to learn about ourselves. So make as many as you can and let them be your growth guide.
7. Give love and acceptance. Share with others how they make you feel, tell them everyday so they can’t forget. Look for ways to lift people up and shine.
8. Accept compliments without apology. Accept the love and be proud of who you are. Allow the shining moments and the missteps to be lessons to build on.
9. Say sorry right away. Don’t let shame become a hurdle. Saying sorry is important for the other persons healing. But it’s also important for yours.
10. Feel every emotion fully. You are allowed to take your time and just feel. Without action or judgement. Just allow.
11. You always have more choices than you think. When you don’t believe this think about how others would approach it. Look through the lens of different perspectives.
12. Take care of your health. Your body and mind will fuel your fire if you take care of it. So make good choices most of the time.
13. Be present. Live in the moment and smell the flowers. Spend uninterrupted time with loved ones and yourself.
14. Lead from I want vs I should. Don’t let the pressure of others or of society change what you know is true and best for you.
15. Say yes to yourself. Your heart knows what it wants and needs. Listen and honor its wisdom. Take big chances and let things workout as they were meant to.
16. Solve problems right away. Don’t let negative feelings or problems fester. Face the problem directly so they don’t steal one more moment of happiness.
17. Don’t let guilt and shame guide you. Live each day as a new opportunity to choose different. As Brene Brown would say “guilt and shame only live in the dark” so let the learning be your flashlight.
18. Dream big huge goals for yourself and then set out to achieve them. You are worth every single step you take.
19. Love with your whole heart. Don’t let fear get in the way of how your heart feels. Allow it to shine and give. Broken hearts will mend and heal with a greater ability to love even more.
20. Just breathe. In every moment there is a choice to act or simply breathe.
21. Know how much your daddy and I love you.