So... Many of my close friends and family are aware that my mini is headed off to WSU in Jan 2018 instead of July 2018. A BIG change. An exciting change. A lot has happened over the last several months so it only makes sense for me to take to my blog and bring all up to speed.  This has also forced me to take some time off from writing my book and teaching workshops. The requests to teach again have come in waves and I am so humbled to receive those requests. So many shameless asks of curiosity about the book and Podcast appear almost weekly.  All of those things will hit in a major way very soon. But, not until little miss is off to college.  When my daughter decided to go off to college 6 months earlier than planned all of the above had to take a back seat. Quality time and creating memories with her has overruled working longer than the 60 hour work week I already do in my corporate career and extending myself beyond to the stage of resentment.  No one likes a bitter bitch. It reminded me of important boundaries and that our unique untraditional, unapologetically blended family is far more important than meeting deadlines, running a business, and racing to meet unrealistic expectations.  

KB verbally committed to play soccer for WSU in Dec 2015. Declining several schools and making the decision to attend college at Washington State University, play D1, PAC 12 soccer was not an overnight decision. I remember feeling emotional, and asked her how is this happening and does she feel like she’s ready to do this. KB turned to me and said “Mom I have been preparing for this since I was 10. I knew I had to start thinking about coaches and colleges contacting me. Just let me make my decision she said.” I stepped back willingly because I knew she had worked so hard to get to this place. So the decision was hers. She stayed in her room longer than usual after soccer practices for several weeks. She was quiet. Deep thinking type of quiet. Then out of the blue she texted me during the day a few days later. “Mom, I’ve made my decision."

Allowing her to choose on her own has made the experience as a parent so exciting even through the tears of facing an empty nest. Letting your child think for themself, advocate for themselves, do hard things and make hard decisions will never be a mistake. It will provide calming when your worried at night wondering how they will handle life. It will reassure you that you’ve taught them resilience and to live in reality. It will remind you that no matter where you go, your voice will be a silent whisper of love and reassurance that they can do anything they set out to do. 

Soccer was never forced on KB. It’s in her genes. She has been playing since age four and playing at the club level since she was 6 years old.  It is probably safe to say it’s her first love. So being the toddler tantrum parent forcing their child to play and screaming like an abusive maniac has never been my role on the sidelines.  I've seen my fair share of parents demonstrate this over the last 13 years.  I have cringed and often thrown a few side eyes at the pathetic behavior one can force a child to endure. Another reason why this process has been rewarding to be a part of. It was solely her decision and a beautiful journey to watch your child grow through. 

I’ve overheard KB on two separate occasions describing to friends and family about coming to her decision on choosing her school and team. I was completely blown away by her maturity and thought process. Community, connection, seeing endless potential in the soccer program and coaches were just a few things that were important to her. Don’t find teenagers thinking like that everyday. In that moment a little voice reassured me she’s going to be just fine. We underestimate our kids sometimes. Some days I feel like the clock is ticking and asking myself if I have done everything I need to instill xyz in her? Will she be prepared for this or that? How will she react to situations, what if she needs me and I am not there? My heart sinks and screams, it’s too soon!!! I have been preparing for this. I really have. 

It wasn't until last Friday we received her official acceptance letter. I picked up the mail and ran back outside just before she drove off to work. She knew instantly when I held the envelope up. STOP!!! It was like something out of a movie. KB and I both smiled and screamed YAY!! Because, what many don't know is regardless of getting recruited to play for a school, you still have to meet requirements and apply. Shit just got real. Really real.

Then KB reminds me. “Mom it doesn’t matter if I leave in July or Jan, it’s going to be hard on you regardless.” She’s right. She tends to remind me of this often. She has indulged willingly in my mom and daughter adventures this past year. Our 2017 calendar of creating everlasting memories for KB's last year of high school has been one heck of a year so far. I've got some pretty damn good hugs at the end of our adventures. So, I hold those close when I close my eyes and wonder where life will take her next.  Knowing I won't always be there but she and I will always have each other, I can let go tearfully knowing that I have raised a young woman who will do great things in the world. I will miss her busting out randomly is her smooth dance moves. I will miss her asking "Mom can you make me food?" I will miss cooking for a house full of teenagers. I will miss her looking at me in wonder and sheer annoyance at my ridiculous mom questions. I will miss her so much. 

Back up to this last summer. KB wrapped up her last year of club soccer with her ECNL team. The girls placed second in the nation and KB took some time off from soccer to rest her back due to pain from overuse. This girl has to played her little heart out for the last 13 years. A break was long overdue.  During this break the option for KB to start at WSU early was proposed.  She has all of her credits to graduate high school and has been doing running start getting a jump start on college so this option was music to her ears. She's ready!  I am ready to watch my little old soul soar. Watch her pursue Sports Psychology and watch her play college soccer. I am not ready. I am ready. I am scared and I am happy.  I am so fkin proud!! All of the emotions I am.  What does all of this mean? January I will move my baby girl into a dorm. A lot of people have asked, what about high school graduation?  KB will come back home in May for her high school prom and walk with her high school class in June. In usual Howard-Barton fashion our lives and home will be an adventure with love and faith at the center of it all.  So how does one plan a grad party and off to college party backwards??? Thanks KB.  From the time you were born you have managed to make sure life was always an adventure. :-)

Thank you sweet girl for being challenging, pushing back, being passionate, focused and allowing yourself to feel during the uncomfortable times. Thank you for teaching me it's ok to let go and to have faith in our faith.