People tell you that time will pass quickly. One day you’ll look back and wonder how life moved so fast. Appreciate every stage of your children, they say, because one day they will be all grown up.
You respect their wisdom. You know they speak the truth. You wish they’d shut up because it doesn’t help when your child is having a meltdown in the cereal aisle. And then it happens.
One day, you’re standing in the cereal aisle looking at your daughter who is brilliantly proclaiming her theory that Lucky Charms are, in fact, a food group, and with the recent addition of magical unicorn marshmallows, they should be added to our grocery list. They are on sale, after all.
All of a sudden, I’m looking at this beautiful young woman who I not only love with my whole heart, but who I actually admire and respect as an entity completely separate from my own, and it hits me: next week, she will be 19. How is that possible? And how are we still debating the nutritional value of Lucky Charms? And why do these two things make me happier than absolutely anything in my life in this moment? Because, they do. Because there is no love like this. Mothers and daughters. Sacred.
Of course, I don’t tell her this nearly enough. Now we’re 19 years in and I think of all the moments I missed, mistakes made. All the times I chose work over family. All the times I scolded when I should have praised, or should have supported or maybe just shut up and let her figure it out for herself. Teaching this beautiful soul to navigate a world that keeps me awake at night has been nothing short of harrowing.
What I wanted most to teach my daughter was resiliency and self-confidence. Turns out she’s the best teacher. Grounded in herself, in her identity and uniqueness, all of it while beautifully painting the colours of the autism spectrum, she is fearless. She sings and dances to her own song and really couldn’t care less if anyone else likes the tune. She’s learned how to get along without going along, and found her place in the spotlight. She knows her limits, sets clear boundaries and understands the value of self-worth over popularity. I’m still working on these life skills.
Has it been easy? Not always. But if you want to see someone bounce back after a knock down, you should see this kid come out swinging. She is finding her voice in a world where that is everything. For 19 years, she has empowered me to use my own voice too. Boy, have we fought some battles together. Parents with kids who don’t fit in the box will know what I mean. We fought to get her a label to help her in school and then fought to squash the misconceptions that came with it. Worth it. It’s an honour to be in her corner.
My Dancing Queen, my Broadway Baby, 19 years old. Incredible. Beautiful. Kind. Loved and loving.
Don’t worry about your future, just keep moving forward. Walk your path. Stay true to you. Dance like everyone’s watching. Sing whenever the spirit moves you. Love the ones who join in. Know your value. Don’t give your heart to anyone who doesn’t. Throw the Lucky Charms in the cart. You deserve unicorn marshmallows.
Lucky charm, indeed.