When I was sixteen and finally passed my driver’s test (3rd time’s a charm) and went for my very first solo drive, I remember sitting at the stop sign at the corner of Hannon and Buffalo Roads, thinking:

I’m not sure they should’ve given me a license. I don’t think I’m ready, and I’m kinda scared, and this is a lot of responsibility.

I felt the same way thirteen years later when, arriving home from the hospital, I set my newborn daughter, snug in her car seat, on the kitchen table and thought:

My God, it’s my job to keep her alive. They should not have let me take her home. Do they know that I don’t know what I’m doing here? 

baby kelly   baby kelly2

I realized then that I had spent nine months preparing for birth and not one day preparing to parent. It was a classic “failing to see the forest for the trees” scenario.

Though she only weighed in at 7 pounds, it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. And it was. The weight of her world, anyway.

I did what every new mother since the dawn of time has done and went with my instincts, taking it one hour, one day, one week, one year at a time.  I did some things right. I did some things wrong. I learned a lot along the way.

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That tiny baby girl I set on my kitchen table on that humid July day in 2001 just turned sixteen on Tuesday. (Yep…I kept her alive! Go me!)

We celebrated with an overnight family trip to Cedar Point. I splurged on the beachfront resort in the middle of the park. It was worth every dollar.

The day after we returned she posted a bunch of photos and a “thanks mom!” message on Facebook. A friend of mine commented on how sweet it was and said, “You are raising some wonderful ladies.”

I texted back, “I hope so. But parenting is kind of a crapshoot, eh?”

Even after all these years, there are still plenty of hours, days, weeks, when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or if it’s the right thing to do or how this whole thing is going to work out in the end.

Everything always feels so tenuous.

But, after sixteen years in the parenting trenches, I’ve learned to live with that. I’m wiser, not as easily rattled, and more inclined to step back and take a wide view of the forest.

It pretty awe-inspiring from where I stand now.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”