When my daughter was born people warned me with a little laugh, “oh just wait til she’s 17! Then you’re in for it.”

Well, she’s 17 and I really am in for it. I’m in for all of it. I’m in for discussing colleges and options and cities and futures as yet unknown. I’m in for staying up late at night watching heart-wrenching movies and discussing bad scripts. I’m in for great conversations about life, liberty and the constant pursuit of happiness. I’m in for long lingering hugs just because. And soulful apologies after we have a fight. I’m in for laughing until we cry and crying until we laugh. I’m in for dancing to loud pop music to shake off the blues or sitting quietly side by side at the kitchen counter eating cereal at midnight. And I’m in for the constant reminder that while we might be alike in some ways, in many ways we are different and isn’t that a beautiful realization.

I want her and  all my kids to know that I have complete and utter faith in them. Sometimes I forget this and I get in their faces with a string of you-shoulds, but really, when I step back and watch, it is mind-blowing how well they navigate this world. I remember when she was little and I reminded her for the gazillionth time to say thank-you to someone, and one time she turned to me and said rather annoyed, “I know!!! You just have to give me a second!” She had been there for the lesson all the times before, and now, all I really needed to do was to let her be. This I will try to remember  now and for their whole life long. I will try to let them be them. I will try to give them a second. And when I don’t, I will try not to take their reminders personally.

I want my kids to view life like a fresh notebook at the beginning of a semester, or a three-day weekend with no plans. I want them to know they can make it whatever they want, that they can fill it big ideas and people they love and the things that make them feel good. They can fill it with projects and plans and adventures and they can allow a little space for dreaming too. Because it is those quiet moments of dreaming that take us all to our next big ideas.

I want all my kids to know always that I am so glad they were born. And while my daily focus might sometimes be too much on the tasks, overall my heart explodes with the realization that we are fellow humans, walking through this life together. And while that takes a little while to sink in when you’re tending to the physical needs of babies and tiny children, that becomes so clear when your child turns seventeen.

So yes, if you have little kids now, just wait until they’re seventeen! I guarantee you, it will blow your mind.