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[Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash]

If you and your kids aren’t getting along, today is all dark on Facebook.

First Day of School photos are crammed into every stream, gelled hair, fresh outfits, beautiful porches, adorable girls and boys holding Pinterest-y signs, braces or no braces, SMILING.

Never mind that your family is living a full-on after school special right now, or maybe a simple argument over a too-short mini-skirt derailed the morning entirely.  Perfect waffles you made at 6am, trashed. iPhones are lighting up and the eye-rolling starts and car doors are slamming. Oh Happy Day. 

Here’s the thing: I’ve been a single parent for 9 years, and my baby girl is a high school senior today. Family is for the long-haul, parenting is forever. And every day, we’ve got six hours to become the parent we want to be when our kids come home.

Start-overs and second chances are LEGIT.

Because whether your precious little loves are in the second grade, or smelly middle school, or outrageous high school, campus life can be ridiculously hard. A constant reminder that you don’t belong, that you don’t fit in, you’re not smart, you read the wrong books, you wore the wrong jeans, and all the super-cool stuff from summer is so extra and over, you can’t even.

So begins another year of will-somebody-please-like-me, auditions and tryouts, princess parties and beer pong, too much academic pressure, adolescent heartbreak, and social media ghosting.

More than anything, they just need to know that they matter, that someone has their back, that someone sees the best in them when they can’t see it themselves. That you love them No Matter What.

So we have six hours to decide what kind of parent we want to be when they get home. Serve ice cream for dinner. Make balloon animals. Read a sticker book. Eat sushi in the park. Play ball in the street. Do all their homework. Finger paint. Play cards against humanity. Fix something broken. Lay out in the yard and watch the stars. Laugh at their jokes. Tell them three ways they totally inspire you.

This is the day to be the parent we want to be for our kids. To start practicing who we want to become. Because it’s not about fixing. It’s about showing up & bringing your best self to your wrangled smelly teenager who is also 12 and 9 and 5 and 2, needing you.

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