So much of mothering — well, for me anyway — has been a balancing act of leaning forward and closing in; then backing off, and retreating. Sometimes this means engaging my daughters and challenging them to function independently, while later realizing their growing abilities to care for their daily lives. Other moments, I must assess their range of emotional needs, and my own needs as a mother (and a human!).

During my university days, my education professors encouraged various pedagogy methods. One element I gathered was the idea of a barometer in each classroom; for surely there would be one teenager who spoke out, telling me of the classroom environment:  too fast-paced, not quick enough, too boring, or just engaging enough to matter. Those students contribute in discussions and provide depth to the experience; they often wear emotions externally, and help me gauge the feel and warmth of my classroom. In a sense, they are an indicator for other students’ needs as well.

As a mother, my children are no different, and I too have a barometer inside my home! My own barometer child feels life deeply on an exceptionally personal level. Her daily emotions are intense and wide-ranging, and her expressions of those sentiments also follow suit. Yet guiding her in life requires a balance of her own, to develop self-control and actively nurture that fruit in her life which needs tending.

While it’s not natural for her to wait patiently, and take caution when proceeding, she has to actively channel that energy into something beneficial and sustainable. She’s learning to focus toward long-term goals instead of daily, immediate desires. These skills will serve her well and are long-suffering lessons for us all.

At the same time, however, I’ve realized the benefit of this type of strong, resolute, determined daughter. She compels me as a mother and a human being… even as she presses, hounds, and implores the best of me.

She challenges my life, my convictions, and my methods, encouraging me to lengthen the criterion for how I live:  to only strive for excellence. She is not content to live a basic, monotonous, irrelevant existence and challenges me to pursue more, into my best. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!