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The kiddo is off today on another adventure. She’s been so many places this summer. North Carolina, two summer camps, and lots of little day trips with me. Tomorrow she sets sail with her Dad to Cozumel. 

I love to watch her experience new things. In just over 4 months, she’ll be 14. That much closer to leaving my nest. She wants to go to college at Oxford University in London. That’s her first choice. Her second? Anywhere that isn’t here. Not that she doesn’t love her home, but just that she wants to see more of the world.

I was proofing her summer reading paper last night. She wrote it on the book, The Help, by Katherine Stockett, a Mississippi native. Her understanding of the subject matter, the discussions we had about it…… The kid just gets it. Her level of perception scares me sometimes.

Reagan is a bright, intelligent young woman. My wish, my greatest desire for her, is for her to create a life that makes her happy.

Her path is not my own. I cannot make the decisions that are coming. Only she can set her path. 

Truth be known, I’ll be happy as long as she’s happy. Whether that means she achieves her goal of studying abroad, or takes classes at our community college. I just want her to pursue her passions. Because life is much too short not to.

I want her to see places. Meet people. Experience the big beautiful world in ways that I never will. I want her to grow. Continue to evolve and be shaped into this beautiful person she is growing into. 

When I first laid eyes on her, I knew I had my work cut out for me. She was suspicious, untrusting from the very start. You could see it in her eyes. She asked a thousand questions as soon as she could form the words. She still asks. But mostly, now, she listens. Absorbs. 

It’s crazy, being a parent to this child that outgrows me a little more each day. I’ve never pretended to have the answers I didn’t. I’ve never lied to her. Maybe that’s why those untrusting eyes look at me differently than they did the first time I saw them. 

Some things haven’t changed though. She still takes my breath away. Just watching her. Knowing she came from me. That this tall, gorgeous creature actually came from my own body. It’s startling. Humbling. Inspiring.

I used to worry, constantly, about what kind of adult I was shaping. I know all too well just how much what I say and do will impact her beyond the here and now. It’s a tall order. 

Of all the disagreements my husband and I have had throughout our 11 year marriage, this child has been the source of most of them. We have different parenting styles. Take different elements with varying degrees of seriousness. I knew, early on, that my daughter would be someone with whom I’d have to pick my battles. Her stubbornness exceeds anything I’ve ever known. Even within myself. My husband, who, for all practical purposes, is the father in her life, sees raising a child very differently. Each battle one that can and should be fought and won by the parent. He’s got her respect. But so do I. Different strategies. The same result. 

Sometimes I honestly don’t know how we’ve all survived this blended family thing and still love each other. Still enjoy each other. Each one of us is so different from the others. But survive, we have. Still surviving. Still learning. Still loving, even when we drive each other insane.

Another worry I have always carried is just how much this blended family, and coming from divorced parents would affect my daughter. 

But I see where it’s helped her more than it’s hurt her. She learned, early on, that life, sometimes, means moving on after dreams are leveled. 

She’s learned that people let you down. And you have to rise above. And you will get crushed, but you can always get back up. 

She’s learned that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. That perfect childhoods don’t create perfect people. That imperfect childhoods don’t create insurmountable obstacles. 

I look at her and think about who she is becoming. Who she already is. I re-read my post last night about where we were at the end of basketball season. How broken we both were by people that I still struggle to forgive for the pain they caused. 

But I look at her now, 6 months later, and see a different child in front of me. She’s always been resilient, but it takes more time now for her to be okay again. And that’s okay. I think that just means that the lessons she learns from adversity will stay with her even longer. And that’s a good thing.

Because, perhaps more than any other wish, my desire for her is the same as the desire for my own life. Not just that she can rise above, be reborn, but that she will never stop letting the good and bad shape her for the best.

If who she is now is any indication, the world needs to look out. My daughter is growing up. And when she finally spreads her wings, it’s going to be quite a sight to see. It already is.

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