My daughter turned 11 yesterday. It hits the hardest with her because she is my forever baby. Lillie brings me so much joy and laughter. She is the sweetest, most helpful child. She hears everything and always knows what’s going on. She will tell you exactly what she thinks, and she will make me laugh so hard that I pee my pants. I begged for Lillie. My heart wasn’t complete. Lillie is my dream come true and she completes our party of five. She is one of the greatest teachers in my life. One of her roles in this life is to help her mother grow. 11 lessons from Lillie:
- Lillie and I can be fire and fire. I learned from parenting her that my fire just made her fire worse. Coming at Lillie with fire was never going to work. If she eventually backed down and cried, then we both felt terrible. If we both escalate each other then we both feel terrible. I had to learn to deal with Lillie’s storm. My job is to help her through the storm, not make it worse. I am here to help and guide my kids. I am here to be there for them. I want to be the source of comfort not the source of pain. I had to learn to keep myself in check. I learned to focus on Lillie and her feeling overwhelmed and upset. This wasn’t about me and my feelings. She was struggling and she needed my help. This perspective change has changed everything. She has helped me learn to control myself better.
- As I mentioned, Lillie is my youngest child. Her two older siblings are so smart and so capable. Guess what, so is Lillie. Just because she is the youngest doesn’t mean that she isn’t very smart and very capable. I tend to underestimate her and I’m learning not to do this. I’m learning that the baby of the family is very smart, very capable and very strong. I need to not underestimate Lillie, my other two kids, or myself.
- Lillie loves to be in charge of things. I can’t imagine where she gets that from (totally kidding). She is happy to be in charge. She is happy if she feels in control of things. Which leads me to – give her choices. Choices can overwhelm her, and choices can also make her feel in control. If I give her choices, she tends to ask for feedback from me. If I tell her what to do, she resists. Lillie likes to be in charge. I like to be in charge. I’m happy to let Lillie be in charge when I can!
- Lillie needs one on one time. She needs to feel special and cherished. Quality time is important to her. She will tell me to come sit with her. She will tell me a long story. She wants to tell me details and she wants me to listen. She wants to go out with me alone. I think being number three makes her want time without her siblings around sometimes. She doesn’t like the idea of them going away to college, but she also doesn’t want them to steal her spotlight all the time either. Her famous line is, “Me too.” She doesn’t want us to forget her. I tell her I never will. Just like I want to feel loved and special, so does Lillie.
- Lillie is a social butterfly like her mama. She will go nonstop if I let her. I have to slow her down sometimes. I have to remind her that she needs rest. She is a lot like me in that she needs social time, rest time and lots of sleep! I have to remind her to slow down sometimes. She also helps me remember to slow down. I see her get run down and I remember that I need to pace her, and I also need to pace myself!
- I need to let Lillie try new things. She is up for anything, and I love her openness to try anything. I need to encourage this and not stifle it. When she told me she wanted to try lacrosse with her friends I thought she was crazy. She asked me several times and I finally signed her up for lacrosse camp. Guess what? She loved it. I need to let her try new things and this also encourages me to try new things. I love the adventurous fun side of Lillie.
- Just go with it is something we learned works with Lillie. As Lillie and her friend practiced a Tik Tok in the car over and over again I had choices: I could be annoyed, or I could be entertained. I decided to laugh with them and join in. Just go with her and have fun with her. Let Lillie be loud and silly. Whatever is going on with Lillie, we should try our best to just go with it and have fun with her. When we resist, we all end up upset. Just go with Lillie and just go with life.
- Which leads me to adjusting my expectations accordingly. Things can change quickly from minute to minute with our sweet, silly, spunky girl. One minute she is planning a full day and making my head spin and the next minute she says that she needs to rest and do her homework. Sometimes I feel like I mentally and physically can’t keep up with her. One minute she tells me she is going to fail her math test and then she comes home smiling that she nailed it. I just try to keep up and adjust accordingly!
- Just don’t rush. Rushing in life is not good for us! It’s not good for Lillie, myself or anyone else in my family. I was rushing her to get ready for her cheer showcase tonight. We were both frazzled and running around and annoyed. I need to give us enough time, so that we don’t need to rush. It goes south quickly when I rush. If we do need to rush, I need to be as sweet and calm as I can in the process if I want to get out the door. Tonight, when we were rushing, I said to her, “We don’t have time for feelings, we have to get out the door yesterday!” She laughed at me thankfully and we moved forward and out the door! Somehow, we made it on time! Our mental sanity is more important than being on time.
- When I told my husband Seth what topic I was writing about, he told me that we need to meet Lillie where she is. She needs emotional rapport. Meaning that she needs to feel understood and connected with. Everything she teaches me plays out in helping me in my other relationships too. As I learn lessons from my kids, I find it helps me in my marriage too. Lillie teaches me about relationships. This bubbles over with her teachers too. If they connect with her, she learns so much more in the process than if she doesn’t have a connection with her teacher.
- I have to hold steady for Lillie. She needs me to be calm through her storms and she needs me to hold firm in my answers to her. She wants to feel my consistency and firmness. I need to be warm in the process of being firm but if the answer is no and she feels I am steady and firm with that then things go well. When I waiver the fighting begins. My husband likes consistency too. She got this from her daddy. Seth likes it when I am steady and consistent too.
There you have it. 11 lessons in life that my daughter taught me. Lessons that work well with her as her mother. Lessons that work well for myself and in my relationships with others. My kids are my greatest teachers in life. I feel so honored and blessed to get to be Max, Ella and Lillie’s mom. I will continue to work on myself so that I can continue growing and being a better mom for them. It has been an amazing 11 years being Lillie’s mom. I look forward to the continued journey with her getting to be her mom. Thank you, Lillie, for choosing me to be your mom. I will do the best I can for you. You and your siblings are wonderful motivation for me to keep becoming a better person. I would do anything for you.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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