Life After Undergrad: A very Happy Birthday

In a post that strays a little from my theme this semester, I would like to wish my daughter Ava a very Happy 9th Birthday!!!! On this day nine years ago I was in labor with Ava, I was 18 and freshly out of high school. Today on Ava’s ninth birthday I am a college grad, who is pursuing her Masters Degree. On the day Ava was born I had no idea what the future held because the picture I’d painted had dissolved into a whole new reality as a teenage mother. On Ava’s second birthday  I was failing out of John Jay College and was giving up slowly on myself and my future. On Ava’s third Birthday I used my whole tax return to throw her an elaborate themed party to mask how much I felt like a failure. I figured if all looked well then nobody would notice that I was working a crappy retail job and couldn’t figure out what I was going to do about college.

When Ava was four I went back to school and I had a firm sight on where I wanted to be– and nothing would get in my way. This June I will walk in my graduation ceremony and it will be the second time that Ava will have seen me receive a degree. I do this not only to provide from her but to show her that you can fall as many times as you want so long as you GET BACK UP!

My college career is Ava’s as much as it is mine because I’ve never been in college without Ava. Even when she was just a baby bump, she came to college with me. She’s sat through lectures with me, said goodnight to be over the phone, sat and watched me type essays and annotate article after article. While some nights she did complain, she always tells me I’m doing a good job and that makes it worth it– even on the days she is driving me insane. This year as Ava turns nine I see more of myself in her than ever, and I want better from her. I know she can be better, do better and reach higher than I ever have– and it frustrates me when she doesn’t. Nonetheless I know she is bound to be great and make a name for herself– after all, a queen only raises a queen!

Things I want my Daughter to know: 7 Things being your mom has taught me

This week in honor of Ava’s 7th birthday I’m doing something a little different with “Things I want my daughter to know”. This past Saturday Ava celebrated her birthday and it made me realize just how far we’ve come. When she was born I was 18 years old. I had no job and just a high school diploma. Today I am 25 and I have one degree and am steadily approaching a second. So I’m going to list 7 things being Ava’s mom has taught me.

1. There is no greater love than the love a mother possesses for her child.
I discovered this days after you were born and people wanted to touch and hold you. Though I knew they meant no harm I didn’t want anyone touching MY baby. I also felt this on your first day of school, when you began nursery I wanted to sit outside the school all day and I cried after dropping you off. Nobody could take care of you better than I could and it was hard for me to let you go and be a little person. Even now every morning when I kiss you goodbye for the day I wonder what your day will be like and if you’ll need me at any point during the day. There will never be a moment where I am not fiercely protective over you, even when you think I’m being unfair.

2. Sometimes your bad behavior is funny.
I know moms aren’t supposed to admit this but I think it’s in good humor to know that occasionally your out of line behavior cracks me up. The first time I had to excuse myself from disciplining you, you were two years old. Someone had moved your fridge letter magnets up out of your reach and you were not pleased. You attempted to reach them I heard you struggling to and as I came out to assist you, you shouted in anger “WHO THE bleep PUT THIS UP HERE?!”. To which I promptly burst into laughter and had to turn around. Should you have repeated adults bad words no. Did I correct you? Absolutely, but till this day it cracks me up. Every now and then you have little bursts of attitude and though it’s a bit out of line it’s funny to me to see such a large personality on such a little girl.

3. Just because I see the world through rose-colored glasses doesn’t mean everyone else does.
This has become clearer to me as you’ve gotten older and I find just because I gravitate to something doesn’t mean you will. It also means just because something comes easily to me it might be complex to someone else. This became obvious to me when I’ve had to explain to you why certain things aren’t acceptable in school. Though I can see your potential and know the questions to ask you to get you going again not everyone else does and I have to teach you to ask for help productively when you don’t know how to do something.

4. Change in inevitable.
I’ve said this before but the only reason I know how to roll with the punches is because I am your mother. Change is something that panics and stresses me out but I can’t let you see that. So in turn I’ve learned to accept and roll with it as best I can so my flaws never spill over into your life. Having you was the biggest change my life will ever endure but I know if I can be a mother and raise a little girl everything else life throws my way is a cake walk.

5. Kids really are mirrors; they reflect all of what’s around them.

One day when I was running late for something and I had to take you with me I truly saw that you absorbed most of the habits around you. I’m a bit anal retentive when it comes to certain things, and that clearly rubbed off on you because you wouldn’t wear socks that did not match, you downright refused. It slowed down the whole morning but it made me see that everything I do, in your presence or not, affects you in some way.

  1. Admit when you’re wrong.

This is a hard skill for people in general but I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t teach you to be humble and admit when you mess up. I discover these things often, like when you’re right about where something is or if you did or didn’t do something. Though my first reaction is to brush it off I know I have to admit it was my mistake. Teaching you it’s okay to be wrong is the first part, I also have to teach you how to fix it. Sometimes sorry is not enough and you have to replicate that I’m sorry in the form of actions.

  1. Don’t ever stop finding reasons to smile

I am amazed at how quickly your mood can change, both good and bad, but mostly good. I am amazed that even in the middle of a rainstorm you’ll find something to laugh about or be silly. I then remember that this is a gift of youth that is often spent over time into adulthood but seeing you experience it makes me remember that it was not too long ago that I was care-free and laughing. I cherish that I can share these laughs with you and hopefully let you keep those moments a little longer.


Mommy loves you so much and one day when you’re a teenager loathing my rules and expectations I hope you’ll read this. I hope you’ll read this and gain a little clarity into the method to my madness and understand that I don’t set rules with the intent of raining on your parade but instead with intent of protection, guidance and stability. One day when you may have a daughter I hope you’ll relate to my words and they’ll finally resonate with you and you’ll see every choice was crafted out of pure love.