Catherine Anaya

Here for her

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She stood in front of me, looking regal and so grown up in a lovely white gown. Already taller than me by at least 3 inches, my beautiful daughter was about to take her eighth grade graduation picture. This month, she will make that all-important transition from middle school to high school. Where did the time fly?

This milestone has stirred so many emotions in me. In a year and a half, she’s eligible to drive, as she so happily reminds me. I like to remind her she’s also able to get a job! But in less time than I expect, she’ll want to wear makeup and have a boyfriend. Oh, the challenges I have to look forward to!

Regardless of what the next four years of high school have in store, I’m always full of hope that I’m raising her well.

I sometimes question the lessons I’m teaching her. Am I teaching the right ones and am I teaching them well? Am I leading by the right example?

Will she one day understand the importance of her mother following her dreams into a career that she loves and is passionate about? Or will she only remember that I wasn’t home as much as she would have liked?

Will she appreciate my discipline in training and running marathons? Or will she only remember that those 20-mile training runs meant I had to miss one of her basketball or soccer games?

Will she understand that I would love to have a successful relationship, even after divorce? Or will she only see a date as time away from her and her brother?

Will she consider my community involvement an extension of my need to give back in gratitude for all that’s been given?  Or will she view my commitments as time stealers?

Every child is different, so assuming that what works for one parent will work for me is foolish for me to even consider.

But it’s difficult not to wonder, sometimes, if I’m creating for her the same frustration I felt at her age about my own mother’s attempt at the balancing act of life.

My mother juggled two jobs; one as a professional singer, which meant she wasn’t home at night. I spent a lot of time alone, and in turn, cultivated a high level of responsibility for a young girl. But it also fostered some loneliness, and that undoubtedly led to my strong interest in doing well in school and going off to college where I could design my own sense of “home.”

I don’t know what the next four years will bring. But I do know it took years for me to appreciate that my mother was only doing her best.

I can only hope it won’t take my daughter nearly as long. She’s about to face four of the most important years of her teen life, and I’ll do my best to make sure she gets through them knowing I’m here – and have been there.

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