My Baby Gril Turns 21!
Where do I begin? It’s hard to believe my baby girl turns 21 today! It seems like it was only yesterday that I held this precious soul in my arms. I’m amazed by the beautiful young lady she has become and how much she has achieved so far. Today I want to honor this talented young lady as my heart overflows with gratitude for all the lessons she has taught me thus far.
If you’re a parent you know that raising children is not easy. There’s no blueprint on how to be a good parent and raise children. And if you have more than one child you know that what works for one child doesn’t work for the other. Vanessa is my second child. Her brother, Jeremy, is 2.5 years older than she is and it’s fair to say he was my easy child…sort of! Now I’m not saying parenting Jeremy was easy but with him, we were able to figure out ways to discipline him that worked. Vanessa on the other hand challenged us every way possible and nothing seem to really work when it came to disciplining her. Everything with her was exhausting and demanding. I questioned my parenting skills with her more than I would like to admit.
I remember one night when she was around three years old, I was putting her to bed, worn out and deflated from the day I had with her. As I was praying over her, I was also praying for my sanity, and for God’s guidance to help me parent this child. I was at a breaking point and I know most parents can relate to this. Everything I tried with her when it came to disciplining her just didn’t work and I was tired and running out of ideas. As I am lying in her bed watching her asleep and seeing her angelic face, I felt God speaking to me and telling me that everything I saw as a weakness in her was actually her strength and as a parent, I need to help her navigate this and use it to her advantage.
Vanessa has always been hardheaded, determined (I’m sure being Italian and Mexican has something to do with it), and tenacious. She has always been wise beyond her years. At five years old she started playing the violin and learned to play by ear and went on to play the violin for almost ten years. When Vanessa was in Kindergarten she was already reading at a third-grade level. When she was in first grade, she was helping her fellow students read even though she had a speech impairment. In second grade when a kid made fun of her and hurt her feelings, she cried for about five minutes and then decided that she will never let anyone make her feel this way again. When she was eight, she started her own charity and raised money to provide care packages for the babies in the NICU. In fifth grade, she gave her class graduation speech. In junior high, Vanessa being a straight-A student challenged the school when the school changed the graduation honor roll to 3.6 average instead of 4.0. She didn’t think it was fair! In high school, Vanessa made the cheerleading team and if you know Vanessa’s athletic skills you would be surprised, as well. That girl couldn’t tumble even if her life depended on it. Yet her determination and perseverance made her the fly girl on her team. Vanessa also faced tragedy and hardship during her high school years, things that no teenager should have to go through, and yet she was able to get through it with tenacity and graduated from school with honors. She is now in her senior year in college and excelling in school. She’s made the Honor roll and Dean’s roll, as well as other receiving other achievements. She is on her journey to become a PA and work in the NICU and I know she is going to do amazing.
My little rebellious girl has grown up to be a very mature talented young lady. One that doesn’t take no for an answer. One that always sees the cup half full and when challenges in life face her, she embraces them because she knows this is building character in her.
A love note to my daughter
To my beloved Vanessa, I know you know that I love you, but I don’t think you realize the depth of my love for you and that is ok. You are God’s gift to me and I not only count this as a privilege to be your mom but I also treasure you and all the memories I have of you and with you. I have loved every phase in your life because you have taught me something in each phase, but I especially love this phase where I can be not only your mom but your friend. Even though we don’t always see eye to eye, I love our deep conversations about life, God, the world, politics, and pretty much everything and anything. You’re an extraordinary young lady. Full of compassion towards humankind. I love that you stand true to your convictions and you allowed your voice to be heard even at times when it’s just a soft whisper but your actions are so much louder than your words. I told you before and I will tell you again, you, my sweet darling, were created for greatness and the world needs more of you! Soar like an eagle with no boundaries. Allow God to be your compass and the wind beneath your wings. Leave your mark wherever you go always staying true to who you are, never compromising your morals and values. I pray for you each and everyday and I love you each and every day just a little bit more.
LYDIA GILLIS PHOTOGRAPHY is Denver based and Destination Wedding Photographer, Seniors, and Personal Branding Photographer.