My first couple of rodeos - 27 lessons I hoped I had taught

In my earlier post about graduation, I explained how I could anticipate the pain of a child leaving home.  I've done it twice already --- this ain't my first rodeo. 

That got me to thinking about what it felt like those first two times.  Some of the same feelings.  Some different. 

Thought I'd share about those...

Both my first two are girls.  I didn't realize the difference that made until I observed the difference in Paul's response to our son's leaving.  There's something about when the departing child is the same gender.  The anticipatory feelings of loss are the same...but the anxiety about their preparation is a bit different.  When a daughter leaves, the Mom feels responsible for her readiness to face the world.  Apparently, it's the same for sons and Dads.

So when each of my girls left, I felt a sense of panic, actually.  Were they equipped to be women?  Had I trained them adequately? Would they make wise choices?  And if they made wrong ones, could they rebound successfully? And, since I had been primarily responsible for their academic education, I can promise you I fretted about that, too.

I was so fortunate to have somewhere gotten the idea of training them to be able to run the house by the time they turned 12.  (Taken from Luke 2:39-52 where Jesus is left at the Temple and is able to survive without His parents).  So they knew some basics.  But did they know enough to thrive?  I knew they could navigate social media but did they know their way around the social challenges they would face?  Sure, they could balance their checkbooks but would they be able to balance the desires of their eyes and the disciplines of their heart?

I just plain did not know.

And, I promise you, I knew I would feel responsible if they failed.

Thank God (and the prayers of grandmothers) they not only did not fail, they have grown into the loveliest and most successful women anyone ever could.  I pinch myself to be sure I'm not dreaming they are mine.  And I ponder long on the abundant grace of God that took my meager attempts and their fabulous cooperation and did such an amazing job.  Wow.

What things did I want to be sure are imparted to my girls? What lessons did I worry had gone untaught?
  Here they go, in no particular order...

1.  Don't compare yourself to others.  Somebody is always going to seem prettier, more accomplished, better at whatever.  Learn to rejoice for them and to focus on your own strengths.
2.  That said, iron sharpens iron.  Put yourself around others that challenge you to grow and improve and consider new things.  Don't be so insecure that you think you have to look as though you're always the best.
3.  Have a "go to " meal that you can whip out without stress.  You'll need to feed your friends or a fella or a needy neighbor from time to time and you need to be able to do so easily.  For me, that's chicken & dumplings and chocolate chip pie.
4.  Laundry.  Wash reds separately (no matter how small the load) and be able to iron acceptably.  A good crease in a man's pair of pants will come in handy, I promise.
5.  Confidence is great.  I want you to have it.  But don't be sassy.  It won't serve you well.  I promise.
6.  Kindness is always appropriate.  Even to the mean girls and the cocky boys.  Be kind.  You don't have to kiss their feet (in fact, DO NOT do that) but don't be rude.  Just be kind. Or at least quiet!  You won't regret it.
7.  Be on time.  Seriously. Not that there won't be inevitable times of unanticipated delays or detours.  I mean consistently not being on time isn't an endearing or overlookable quirk to be characterized by lateness -it's a character flaw, a narcissistic matter of the heart.  You disrespect others when you are habitually late.  And you discredit yourself.
8.  Don't call boys.  I know that sounds old-fashioned and I can accept some times there would be an exception to that rule.  But make it your standard not to call (or text) boys.  Trust me, if they are interested, they WILL contact you.  If they are not, you don't want to disrespect yourself by contacting them first.  Trust me on this one.  Trust me.
9. I know you know how to clean a bathroom.  So employ that skill on yours on a regular basis.
10.  Be discreet about feminine products and body functions.  That is all I have to say on that.
11.  Don't smack.
12.  Treat all authority with respect.  Actually, treat every living person, creature, and thing with respect.  That means you acknowledge their value and you demonstrate appreciation for that.  Don't trash your surroundings or other people.  Respect.
13.  Don't post pictures of yourself all the time.  Maybe about 1/10 of the times you want to.  Or less.
14.  Ask others about their day, their interests, their hearts. Don't make the mistake of thinking your issues and thoughts are so engaging that others will want to hear about them.  Let others do the talking.  Don't fret when they don't reciprocate - that's what I am for! I really DO want to hear about you!!
15.  Remember that you know which fork to use when, how to make a proper introduction, and to take a hostess gift for weekends at your friend's home.  Remember.
16.  Write thank you notes.  For birthday gifts, for letters of recommendation, for another's investment in your life.  Thank people regularly.
17.  A boyfriend is not a necessary ingredient for your happiness.  You alone determine your joy.
18.  Dress appropriately.  You know what that is.  If you have a question, call me.  Your clothes should acknowledge that you are a woman but prove that you are a lady.  You get the picture.
19.  Spend less than you make.  You know all the Dave Ramsey stuff - adhere to it.  And if you make a money mistake, correction is better sooner than later.
20.  Be able to change a tire and know when to get your oil checked.  Dad isn't always nearby.  (At least know when a tire needs to be changed and where your spare is - sometimes those guy friends really like to be needed!)
21.  Invest yourself in some younger women.  On a regular basis.  They need the affirmation and you need the opportunity to serve. 
22.  Fight jealousy like the plague.  It is toxic and it will destroy your relationships and your own heart.  The antidote to jealousy is to purposefully celebrate the successes of others.  Counterintuitive but completely true.
23.  Don't be critical.  You don't have to pretend all is fine if it's not but you can be truthful without being critical.  It is damaging to others and most importantly, criticism poisons the well of the critic.  Don't be critical.
24.  Don't gossip. 
25.  Don't run low on fuel, on cash, or on sleep.  Always keep enough in reserve to see you through.
26.  Diligently develop discretion and discernment in all areas of your life.  Just do it.

27.  Remember that no matter where you go or what you grow up to be, you are always my girl.  I will always be your greatest advocate, your strongest supporter, and your incessant intercessor.  And I love it when you call.