Bear with me. I'll get to the parenting point, but first...
For as long as I can recall, I've considered turning 40 a gloom-doom-tune-my-broom event - I was going to be sad. I was going to be negative. And because of all the angst, I might trade in my MommyMobile for a finely tuned broom because I was going to be the wickedest witch in my world.
But it didn't have to be that way. The idea that 40 doesn't mean the end is more of a reality to me than ever before. Clearly, I know it's just a number. If any of my friends were to feel bad about turning 40, I would give them a lengthy list of reasons why it's no big deal. However, when you're the one going through it, all that good-intentioned advice I would give to others seems a bit hollow.
This is my life. What can I do to make time stop?!
I've asked myself this so many times since turning 39 in 2013, and as my long-dreaded 40th birthday loomed in the not-so-far-flung future, I began to embrace the idea of grasping at semicolons.
Semicolons? Huh? Let me explain.
The semicolon is a useful tool. Whereas a period signifies the end, the semicolon says, "Hold up. Uh uh. I'm not done with you." The semicolon commands your attention . It signals a smooth transition. The thought ends but begins anew, and the sentence flows on.
I need my life to be more semicolon-driven.
Turning 40 didn't have to mean life was over. I'm not stuck in my choices. It's never really too late to change paths and keep going. Realizing this, I made a decision - I decided to stop feeling paralyzed by self-imposed periods, slap a semicolon on this bad boy and forge ahead.
As I've embraced this semicolon mission, it has occurred to me that it isn't just about my birthday. I can still lose that 30 (okay, 50 - ugh!) pounds I needlessly carry around by not letting bad habits control me. It's not too late to see something of mine published or to write that book that has tumbled around in my brain for so long (NaNoWriMo 2015, here I come). Maybe it's not even too late to take piano lessons again, to learn to skate or to finally master that cartwheel I never got the hang of as a kid.
This idea of grasping at semicolons applies to pretty much everything but possibly nothing more than parenting. I yearn to be a semicolon parent, but it's so easy to beat yourself up and think it's too late to make different choices.
I see how rules-driven and bossy our oldest child can be, and I wonder if we were too strict on her because of some faulty, preconceived notion of how parenting should be and how children should act. Would it help our middle child to focus more if we had encouraged her to sit through a whole book at a younger age and spent more time in structured activities? I look at our youngest child and question whether we should've been stricter on her from the beginning in order to rein in her stubbornness and teach her discipline.
But then I look at them with a different set of eyes, and I see such awesomely beautiful young ladies who are so perfectly as they're meant to be, for better or for worse.
Our oldest is so intelligently creative and wants to be a fashion designer. She loves math, horses and beautiful dresses and has a painfully tender heart, but she also thinks Teen Titans and Young Justice are pretty great and has it in her to outgame any boy who challenges her on the Xbox. She smother-mothers her sisters and makes us forget she is still just a little girl under all that old-soulness.
Our middle child has the girliest giggle and a killer set of dimples that can melt the hardest hearts. Her pale blue eyes widen to innocence and narrow to pestering little sisterness with one blink of sky-high lashes, and she makes us laugh without even trying. For the most part, she twirls through life without a care, but be gentle - her tender little heart is right there on her sleeve.
Our youngest child is a gorgeously crafted mess - part sweetheart and part mischief maker with a healthy dose of bossy butt and Earth angel. It's hard to get onto her during one of her grin-and-giggle escapes, and she will surely be the instigator of most of the trouble our girls find their way into over the years. No doubt she will find her way out of trouble, though, with her love of snuggles, kisses and nose-scrunchy smiles.
So what do you do when you have some pretty rockin' awesome kiddos but feel like there is so much more you could do to help them become the well rounded adults they have the potential to be? How do you stop worrying that you've let your own stress and problems get in the way of the healthiest path for them mentally and emotionally? Is it too late to change?
It's never too late. There are no periods on my life's sentences unless I allow them to be placed there. I am, now and forevermore, a semicolon-driven Mama determined to do the best I can for my girls.
I'll just leave this here - ;.
Feel free to join me.