Science Fair Saturday

She did it!

My 11 year old daughter proclaimed herself a scientist and received a “Superior” rating for her efforts. The reward? A trip to the Regional Science Fair this Saturday.

Before you step back in awe and amazement, let me assure you Einstein’s position in history as one of the greatest geniuses of all time is pretty well secure. Sierra’s Science Fair project, “Get Ready…. Get Set…. Chew!” is all about chewing gum. Her participants, (read family), tested five different chewing gums to determine which one had the longest lasting flavor. The hypothesis declared a particular brand and amazingly was proven correct. No great, life changing discovery, unless you work for Wrigley, Cadbury, or one of the other manufacturers of chewing gum.

This Science Fair project offered another type of education, however. It empowered my timid little girl giving her a huge boost of confidence and self esteem. Sierra is a bit of a late bloomer and a day dreamer. If I had to predict her future I would pigeonhole her as an artist or wistful poet. No one would ever accuse her of being too academic. In contrast, she is surrounded by older siblings, who tend to be high achievers. Being one of the youngest in a large brood, and especially being a girl on the brink of adolescence, can be a recipe for self esteem drags rather than boosts. The Science Fair, however is evolving as a bit of a turning point for Sierra in her journey of claiming her individuality and catching up. She is the first Spoerndle to ever attend such an event. We are all very proud.

After a mountain of bureaucratic paperwork to get her registered, and a hefty (in my opinion) registration fee, Sierra is ready for the Regional competition. It’s an all day affair complete with fancy awards. The Superior rated students will travel on to the State level and beyond that who knows? It’s a dream almost too big to contemplate, even for my little day dreamer. You never know though. Perhaps the biggest lesson this competition will teach my daughter is that if you can dream it, you can be it!

You go girl!

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The Fight

“You are just going to have to deal with it Mom. You’ve raised us to be strong women and we are going to have our own opinions on some things!”

It was meant to sting. It was meant as retaliation in the midst of a disagreement. But, those words spoke to my heart. Those magic words, “You’ve raised us to be strong women….” rang in my ears and my head over and over. It was a clear, defining moment of parenthood.

My oldest daughter spoke them in defense of her not so much younger sister. We were in the midst of a disagreement; or let’s just face it, a knock down, drag out fight. I couldn’t agree with their opinion of the moment. We were divided and angry. And then the moment shifted with that simple statement.

Strong women! It was one of those rare paycheck moments of parenting. I held onto the truth of her utterance and savored it.

When you are a stay at home Mom, especially a stay at home, homeschooling Mom for most of your adult life, you don’t get many pats on the back from the world. In fact, you spend most of your days helping your kids and most of your evenings doubting if it is really worth the struggle. There is no paycheck, no awards dinner; no public recognition. In fact, most of your friends, and often your family, think you are crazy, or worse, wasting your life. It’s a constant state of struggle to maintain your self-esteem and fortitude to continue. The reward is at the end of the journey, and the journey, is long.

But then, one day you are standing in your daughter’s bedroom door, in the midst of a struggle, and words are spoken to reward the work. One day, your daughters  stand before you, in the face of adversity, and declare they are strong women! A defining statement, uttered in the heat of battle, becomes a gift. For despite the difficulties, despite the countless moments of doubt, insecurity, and negative messages from the world, you are reminded that it was worth the struggle.

Standing in the midst of middle age, I do not have a fabulous career. I don’t even have a real job. I am still working on my education and trying to determine my future. I am full of insecurities, self doubt, and live in a constant state of struggle with the world. I am riddled with questions of why.

I have taken the “road less traveled” and sometimes feel like I am paying dearly for it. And then suddenly, unexpectedly, the truth appears.

Despite many wrong turns, despite self doubt and worry; I have done one thing right. I have taught my daughters to be strong women.

I savor the moment; the parenting paycheck, and feel unbelievably blessed.