I've wanted to do a Mama Kat prompt for a really long time. I'd always put it off, though, thinking that I'd carve time out at the end of a work day filled with 'productive' writing. Yes, I hear Dr. Phil's voice in my head asking 'how's that workin' for ya?' because it's painfully obvious that I never seem to 'find' that time.

So, today, I make it.

How fitting that I choose prompt #3: Things Your Child Can Teach You

There's not enough room, really, because I think that when it all shakes out it's pretty clear that they teach me a heck of a lot more than I've taught them. I always tell my kids that they are unique; I remind them that we all have different talents in life, and that while someone else (namely, their sibling) might be really good at something, what matters is that we find what we are good at and celebrate that.

That's been toughest for Erin, I think, who has two razor smart and competitive big brothers to contend with. My heart broke earlier this year at the school spelling bee; she was out in the first round, and we went to the hallway so she could cry with abandon. After her sobs subsided just a bit, she looked at me with those puppy dog eyes and said, so quietly I thought my heart would just split wide open, 'Mommy…am I ever going to win anything?'.

She didn't understand it then, and I doubt she does now, but I tried to share with her that what she is best at is never acknowledged with certificates or rewards. I told her that she's the glue that keeps our little family of 4 strong; that her cupcakes create smiles and her insistence that we eat dinner together–at the table, without TV or phones–keeps us connected. She pacified me, and said 'thank you mommy', but I know she still just wanted a medal.

Fast forward to this month; it's been a big, big month here. For those of you that I haven't bored with my bragging, my oldest was accepted into the KAMS program at Fort Hays State University. It's an awesome accomplishment on his part, and I'm beyond proud. But it's also bittersweet, because even though he should be starting his junior year of high school in August, he'll be moving into a dorm room four hours away. Couch time will be relegated to school breaks and I will no longer get to hear him open the door every day after school and yell, in his newly deep but still playful voice 'Mother…I'm home…you're welcome.' 

When his acceptance call came, my mind immediately went to the family vacations we haven't taken and the big things I haven't taught him. He can't drive and refuses to separate brights from whites, and I'm stressing out over whether or not he's ready to be on his own. I was lost in those obsessive thoughts while making dinner, and I didn't even realize that Erin was setting the table. We'd been remiss  lately, eating dinner in the living room while we watched TV, so I'd stopped asking her to help.

So I was surprised when she used her big girl voice to get my attention, and then said 'if Adam is going to be gone in August, I declare that from now until then we eat dinner at the table every single night. Even when you say dinner's nothing special, mom, we're still going to'. I must have looked at her oddly, because after a brief silence she tacked on a tentative 'Right, mom?'

Right, wise girl. Right.