Once upon a time, Matt and I thought we knew exactly how to parent.  We knew the best discipline methods.  The best kind of education for our children.  The best way to get our kids to sleep and learn and behave and be.  We were experts.

This was all pre-kids, of course.

We were so very cute back then.

But then, we wised up.  Realized we had no flippin’ idea what we were doing after all.

It seems as though all parents go through this at some point- that lightbulb moment in which it all becomes crystal clear.  When you realize that, oh hey, parenting is actually mad hard.  That kids change everything.  That all of your parenting theories and noble ideas and book knowledge make ZERO SENSE once that new baby or nutso toddler or sassy big kid is actually in YOUR house.  Under YOUR roof.  Their wellbeing in YOUR hands.

We hit that moment shortly after baby #1 came around.  Then, if I wasn’t shell-shocked already, #2 burst into the world with all of her passion and fury.  Finally, in the midst of that, we brought home a little girl who had been through a lot.  A lot a lot.  Which just sealed the deal.  We needed help.

So, last fall, Matt and I took ourselves to a counselor.  To hold our hands and walk us through how to best parent our sweet Elizabeth.  And she did just that.  Held our hands.  Walked us through it all.  Offered us all kinds of wonderful insight and advice.  But perhaps the biggest game-changer was her insistence that we get Elizabeth back. in. preschool.

“But it’s not in our plans!” we said.

“Get her back in preschool.”

“It’s not in our budget!”

“Get her back in preschool.”

“This website and that blog and allofthosebooks said to keep her home!”

“Get her back in preschool.”

So we did.  And she was SO RIGHT.  It has been a truly fantastic year.  Our girl has grown by leaps and bounds.  Kindergarten is right around the corner, and we’re all feeling ready.  Excited.  We’re all in a completely different spot than we were in the fall, and I’m abundantly, overwhelmingly grateful.

And so, as Elizabeth bids adieu to her preschool career today, I have a few pieces of advice for my tiniest graduate.  And for her brother and sister.  And all of the other children of the world.

  1. Counselors are awesome.  There will come a day in which you will say to yourself, “Huh.  I think I should really go see a counselor.”  LISTEN TO THAT VOICE.  Go.
  2. Counselors are smart.  They go to school for this.  They study.  They read lots of books.  Like, scholarly books.  Not just Parenting Magazine and Facebook Mom Groups.  Ahem.  Listen to them.  Do what they say.
  3. Counselors are not scary people.  It’s unfortunate that I even have to say this.  But the truth is, people have all kinds of weird vibes about counseling.  Lemme just put it to you gently: that stigma is whack.  I’m convinced that everyone needs a good counselor every now and then.  Even if you think you’re the epitome of “normal”, “healthy”, or “just fine.”  Whatever.  You need counseling too.

That’s it.  Sure, I’d love you to work hard and shoot for the stars and all of that jazz.  But I’d also like you to get yourself in a counselor’s chair some day.

So, dear Elizabeth.  Congrats on this day.  This day that almost wasn’t because PRESCHOOL WAS NOT IN OUR PLANS.  You made it!  You learned so much.  You made gobs of friends.  And you’re pumped and ready for kindergarten.

Phew and praise Jesus.

In your honor, not only will we go celebrate tonight with your dinner of choice (corndogs), but we will also start a fund for all three of you darling children.  The “We-Will-Probably-Mess-You-Up-As-Parents-In-Some-Way-or-Another Allison Children Counseling Fund”.  You’re very welcome, sweet girl.