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The Joy of Growing Up With Your Child

5:32 am. I lay staring at the clock, remembering the moment of her arrival; and what an arrival it had been! So many years have gone by since those initial feelings of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement to birth and raise a daughter for the first time. Just as she was surrounded by immense love and infinite possibility at her debut into the world, so would I imagine her today. Now thousands of miles away from me, I look back on our initial bond—her tiny hand curled desperately around my finger—and realize how far we’ve grown and how much our bond has strengthened. I can think of no other job that requires more emotional investing in (without a return guarantee) and, likewise, no job more rewarding.

How lucky am I that my hard work paid off and my daughter remains loyal to our love and devoted to our bond?

“But why, Mommy?” It was her favorite phrase since early on. She would challenge my every decision, question my every action. When she disagreed with me, she would raise hell as I remember her doing when, for example, I would not permit her to travel with friends to Florida after her high school graduation. Though she may not have understood or agreed with me then, she remained obedient to my wishes and considerate of my rules.

Looking back at her inquisitive nature (that drove me crazy!), I see that her constant wonder of and curiosity in the world has carried her through to a unique, adult personality. It is no longer an annoyance, a cumbersome trait of character, but rather a mark of personal motivation and a cause for professional determination.

For a mother who is far from perfection, my daughter has allowed me more than one chance to do it right, never keeping score of my shortcomings but rather counting them as opportunities to find a joy. Taking from my experiences a blueprint for her own navigation system in life, she has shown up a courageous woman. When life has sent her hardships, my daughter has found gratitude; she countlessly meets misfortune head on with a contagious optimism. She reminds me during this journey called life to consider it all joy, no matter how heavy the tribulation, pain, or suffering.

“It is more than being in a state of joy, Mommy,” she would say, “ you must remember to count each circumstance as a joyful one.”

She countlessly meets misfortune head on with a contagious optimism.

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For years I have questioned how to let the circumstances and situations of my life strengthen my character and not vice versa. It can be quite empowering to overcome fears and challenges without compromising inner peace and joy. If we walk through our trials—as difficult as they are to bear—focusing on how they can develop our inner selves, then we will understand that they are not an exercise of senselessness. Rather, each trial has a purpose and it can always good. My daughter proves this to me over and over.

She has taken me with her, too! For as much as my daughter has grown, I have as well. It’s one of the beautiful mysteries of motherhood. And as I concelebrate her birthday today, I am grateful that a chunk of my heart is being allowed to wander around the earth, alongside such a beautiful soul.

For as much as my daughter has grown, I have as well.

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Phyllis won’t be kept down, she’s a survivor that lives to embrace the unknown of tomorrow!

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