I’ve been asked several times in my life, “who do you admire most?” It’s a common question. I’ve always struggled to come up with something good, but I’ve never really had an automatic, immediate answer that I felt confident or sure about. Sure, there is always the admiration for important people in history, significant people in the world who make great humanitarian contributions, political figures (well…. maybe not too many of those 😉), and then there is another common response:
“I admire my mom/dad because they worked hard for me and my family and they have always been there for me.”
However, this past weekend, I found my true answer.
I admire my daughter.
My daughter is 8 years old. She’s a ray of sunshine. She’s a beautiful, boundless, creative, confident, sassy, loving, dramatic, sensitive, fearless, happy, easy-going gift that I truly believe was sent directly to me, for me. She is everything I am not, nor ever was, but everything I always wanted to be.
This realization came to me this past weekend when we attended a Oktoberfest celebration with friends at our local German American Social Club. We are not German, nor are we members of this club, but they throw the best annual, family friendly Oktoberfest in my area! They have amazing, home-cooked, German food, live bands, bounce houses, friendly competitions (my hubby participated in the Stein holding competition this year), and plenty of beer, but never any worries. The atmosphere is safe, amazing, friendly, inclusive, and lively! Oktoberfest has become another one of our favorite Fall celebrations even though we have no known German ancestry!
At this celebration, I watched my daughter dancing on every dance floor and have the time of her life, without a worry or care, without a doubt. She made new friends all on her own and learned new dances. She held hands with adults and children and learned German folk dances without any worries. I watched her carry herself confidently and happily. I watched as she didn’t take herself too seriously or get in the way of herself. I watched and admired how different she was from me.
I’ve always been more withdrawn, social, but still withdrawn; As if too uneasy to really let myself go for fear of people really seeing me. I’ve always been my biggest and worst critic. I always get in the way of myself. I’ve always loved a good time and enjoy a healthy social life, but I’ve always felt inhibited… by myself, my head. My head is my own worst enemy. It never stops. I’ve had to work hard for many years to learn to control my racing thoughts and learn to let go or relax. It’s still a work in progress. I would never just get up on a dance floor, empty or full, and just dance my heart away. Less, with people I didn’t know. Sure, I enjoyed my fair share of nightclubs when I was younger, but it usually took a few drinks to loosen me up. I’m the girl sitting on the side and watching, always thinking; wishing I had the courage to get up and just have fun, but never being able to. I live a lifetime of half-lived moments. My daughter… she lives, fully!
That night, I watched as my daughter had the fun I’ve always wanted to have. That innocent, confident, easy-going fun where you don’t care and it doesn’t matter. I watched as she fully embraced the moment, life, the experience. As I watched, admiring, loving her personality and confidence, I thought of how I need to live more like her. I need to live more like my daughter and less like me. I need to embrace every moment, love fully, not care about anyone else, and enjoy the gift, the opportunity of the moment I’m currently living. I need to let go more easily.
So, I got up and danced.
I walked onto the dance floor, let go of my inhibitions, and danced with my daughter, 5 months pregnant and all. I danced more that night than I had ever danced before because it was real. It was just innocent, spontaneous, fun! She loved dancing with me, but I loved it so much more! I even danced to the ‘chicken dance’ and it was a blast!
My daughter is the person that hugs you tightly and means it even though she’s only seen you a handful of times. My daughter is the type of person who sincerely declares, “how are you?! I haven’t seen you in a while! I’ve missed you,” because she truly means it. She doesn’t take herself, or anything for that matter, too seriously. I’ve struggled with her and I know that I will continue to, only because we are so different and sometimes it’s difficult for me to understand her, but I know it’s she who will fully live, truly happy.
I believe she was a gift to me, so that I can learn from her. We think that as adults its only the kids who have so much to learn from us, but I know there is so much that adults can learn from kids. Children are reminders of the things we should know, but sometimes are too busy or distracted to remember or live out.
My daughter is a ray of sunshine in my busy life and although I know she will need me to help guide her along her journey (God knows she’s going to need someone to help her get past the whining and drama!), I also know I have a lot yet, to learn from her. I admire my daughter and aim to live more like her, less like me.
I love you, girl. ❤️