As my daughter begins to seriously consider her future after high scbabyhool graduation, I find myself looking back and reevaluating my goals for her.

When I was pregnant, my only goal was to have a healthy baby. I didn’t care about gender, appearance, or IQ. I simply wanted a healthy child.

As she started to develop her own personality, my goals for her became more complex. I wanted her to be kind and strong-willed (although not always toward me). Plus healthy, too.

When she started school, I wanted her to be bright and creative. As a classroom teacher, I also expected her to be respectful and responsible. Plus healthy, kind, and strong-willed.

Since starting high school and driving, my goals for her have evolved again. The stakes are high for teens today, so I want her to be safe, emotionally and physically. I want her to be brave, to stand up for her values and beliefs.  I want her to be confident and comfortable in herself. Plus healthy, kind, strong-willed, bright, creative, rejuicespectful, and responsible.

I’m beginning to think I’ve made a checklist, rather than raising an actual child. And that’s why I’m trying to figure it out.

I’ve thought about this a lot. What is truly important in creating a “good” life? What character traits really make a difference? What is that…thing…, deep inside, that makes you a source of light in the world; a person that will make a difference?

For me, I’ve decided it all boils down to two things: Curiosity and Gratitude. Curiosity keeps you searching for knowledge, for truth, for answers, for beauty. Curiosity inspires you to get to know people, to understand them, and to appreciate similarities and differences. Curiosity drives you to learn new skills, find new hobbies, and explore new places.

Gratitude keeps you kind. Gratitude keeps you present and in awe of the beauty and grace that surround us. Gratitude creates a bond to the people and situations that have brought you to your placjumpe in the world. Gratitude leads you to realize that you are enough and that you have enough. Gratitude grounds you and provides the stability to guide you through challenging times, as well as times of great success.

It is my hope now, as the parent of a young adult getting ready to head out on her own, that I have raised her to be more than bright and better than safe. My goals fore her are grander than simply being confident and kind. I hope she remains curious about herself and her world. And grateful for her place in it.

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