It isn’t uncommon for parents to experience overwhelming feelings of pride when thinking or speaking of their children. In our hectic, chaotic schedules, though, I sometimes find myself so consumed with the “who needs to be where, and when?” mindset that I don’t stop to appreciate the amazing little humans my kids are. When I do stop to notice this, it often catches me off guard and I find myself marveling over them, and how they’ve changed since the last time I really stopped to see them.

Recently, my 12-year old daughter and I stopped by Starbucks to pick up a treat before heading to a long evening of dance classes. I placed my order and then stepped aside for my daughter to place hers. Having recently acquired a smartphone, she is learning the perks of accessing different apps; she quickly followed in her old, caffeinated mom’s footsteps by using the Starbucks app to order her own (less caffeinated) treats. As I stood at the other end of the counter, I watched her smile politely and use her manners as she ordered. My husband and I have always insisted that our children order for themselves and interact in this type of setting with little assistance from us, as these are important life skills.

This day, she beautifully executed those skills, and as she held out her phone to pay for her order, I couldn’t help but tear up a bit.

There stood my lovely daughter, her hair up in a bun for dance class, doing something so adult-like yet still exuding the beauty of childhood as she ordered and paid for her sugary drink and sprinkled cake pop. She had the poise of a young woman with her smartphone in hand, yet the twinkle of a little girl as she stood there tap dancing in place as she waited for her order. It was truly breathtaking, this moment in which she was so completely intertwined between the worlds of adulthood and youth.

This girl is truly amazing: she gets excellent grades, she advocates for her brother and all individuals with Down syndrome, she is an accomplished dancer, she is a dedicated volunteer, and she is a kind and loyal friend. It is not rare to see her celebrated. But that moment in Starbucks was just as special as any other occasion in which she is recognized. It was a unique glimpse at the child she still is, but also the strong young woman she is becoming. It was like a sunbeam had chosen that exact coffee shop to illuminate her pure beauty, which in turn forced me to pause the chaos for just a brief moment so I could stop and appreciate her, to really see her. I discovered how much I needed that, an excuse for me to stop and marvel again in the realization that she is growing into a magnificent young woman.  

Before we know it, she will be in high school and then college, making great strides in achieving her goals and dreams. She knows that her dad and I will consistently be there for her, cheering her on, but it’s my hope that I will have many more reasons to stop and really see her again. I intend to seek out those opportunities, to appreciate her beauty and kindness shining through the ordinary moments, radiating joy and hope, just like I did on that random day in Starbucks.

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Jen Franklin Kearns

Jen Franklin Kearns is a mother of three who enjoys writing and excels in sarcasm. When she isn’t busy driving her children to dance classes, soccer and basketball practices, or school events, she enjoys reading and perusing nonsense on social media. Jen is a tireless advocate for inclusion and equal rights for all, but her advocacy efforts focus primarily on issues which directly affect her son with Down syndrome. Jen writes at Tales from the Duck Pond and is anxiously awaiting the launch of her new site, Coffee and Inclusion.