The Princess Has Left The Room

Holding the silky white pieces of fabric, shaped like medieval banners, tinged in pink with golden symbols and connected to each other with soft pink ribbon, was causing my heart to ache. This fabric of childhood dreams and fantasy, once the subject of delight and joy needed to be folded and put away. This banner accompanied by light purple, gauzy draperies wrapped around the posts of a four poster bed, once daintily draped the top of my daughter’s white canopy bed. The fabric, slightly faded and stained, was showing it’s age.

I embraced the solemness of the moment as I folded. I gave myself permission to reminisce and honor the princess who once slept and dreamed of her kingdom in a bed adorned by princess draperies, It was time to accept the princess was no longer in residence.

Watching little princesses grow into strong, confident women is not a new experience for me. This was the fourth princess in my life to disappear. I knew to not be shocked or even surprised, but darn it if this moment didn’t catch me by surprise and take my breath away for just a moment.

This casual moment of redecorating, changing the princess canopy out for shiny, colorful marbleized globe lights, was placed too close in a week’s timeline that began with dropping the next oldest sister at college in North Carolina. Time, slippery and unforgiving, was continually marching forth, changing princesses to teenagers to college undergrads. I was feeling the full force of it and it was causing my heart to hurt.

I calmed my heart and finished my work. I took a moment to survey the bedroom and understand I needed to make space for new memories. The princess may have left the room, but a beautiful, artistic, blossoming young woman was taking residence. She is making this former Princess bedroom her own. She is in the process of finding her voice and unique sense of style. If I’m lucky, if I pay attention closely, she will invite me to her world and show me all the goodness that can be found there.

The princess may have left, but the kingdom remains cloaked in globe lights, photos of friends, dirty clothes, books, an overstuffed school backpack, pointe shoes, strength, and beauty. She is destined for greatness.

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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.