I'm not even sure where to begin this entry. I have started and backspaced so many times that it started to feel very inorganic, so I deleted it all and took a few hours to breathe in what yesterday meant to our family and exhale the truth. I want to begin with the biggest mistake I have made as a parent so far. Like most parents, I have made many mistakes, but I would say that most of them were without my knowledge until the aftermath happened then the light bulb would come on and I would correct things as best I could. Unfortunately, the biggest mistake I made happened with my oldest root and it lasted for this largest portion of her life until about 3 years ago. As she began to show great promise academically, I pushed. It started as early as the second grade and continued through high school. Every time she would achieve, we would talk to her about all the things she would do in life and all the things she would become. The major misstep for me was when I never asked her what she wanted to do. She showed a love for animals at a very early age and suddenly she would be a Veterinarian. She would be the first of our family to show such promise and apply herself with such drive academically that it was never a question whether college was in her future. Even in junior high, we spoke to her about the best Universities and how she would one day achieve our dreams...I mean...her dreams. Her entire high school career consisted of knocking everything academically over the fence and scoring a home run for her family with great praise to follow. Do you see where I'm going here? We never, not a single time, considering that the weight of our expectations, our failures in our own lives, or if the silent pushing we gave her would be detrimental to her own personal growth. Do you want to be a veterinarian Addison? Do you want to be a welder Addison? What about a grocery bagger at Kroger? We literally never asked her what she wanted to be, let alone tell her that it was ok not to know yet. I had always struggled to make ends meet as I raised her, and with the brains she has and the work ethic she demonstrated even at an early age, she was going to be secure financially PERIOD! HUGE Mistake. When she decided that the University she chose wasn't where she wanted to be and wanted to return home after a couple of months into her Freshman year of college, It was a hard pill to swallow, but when we drove over to Sewanee to get her because she was too distraught to drive herself home, I knew something had gone wrong. I pulled onto that campus and hadn't seen her in a month and in a months time, the light was out in her eyes and she was a crying, confused, shell of her former happy self. I packed her up and drove her home as she sobbed the entire two-hour drive home. Over the last 2 years, we have had many many conversations about her desire to travel, her love for Interpretive Programming, her love life, her favorite teas, the love of art. We have watched movies and made many many trips to Kroger (that was our alone time without the little roots). Rarely did we ever discuss her future in college or her career plans. I realized that it just wasn't necessary. We have always known she would do great things, so I wanted to spend all the time I could to get to know her from the inside out and show her that no matter what, she could tell me her biggest dreams or her darkest fears. She has spent the last 2 years working and going to a local community college and finishing the first part of a degree that SHE chose for her and not for me. We have come to realize that sometimes that happy smile is hiding something that isn't very happy and that it is ok for her to express herself authentically. If she is a mess, it's ok to be that mess and to roll around in it for a moment before you regroup. It isn't a sign of weakness to not be happy every moment of every day. I learned personally over the last two years that her success isn't measured in the amount of money she makes, but in how full her heart is. My biggest revelation was that I can't take all of the times I fell short and have her fix that through her accomplishments. Talk about a hard pill to swallow! I was ultimately able to see that I had spent years instilling in this child all of the things she should do and accomplish and it was oddly enough a mirror image of all the things I wasn't able to do for one reason or another. Once I swallowed that painful pill (with lots of wine) we were able to realize what exactly had happened and how we would prepare her for HER future and not mine. Over this last Summer, while she worked at David Crockett State Park, this badass strong root built a portion of the Cumberland Trail. She chopped trees, cleared brush, shoveled dirt and cleared the trail for people to enjoy for generations to come. She found her focus and a passion that is hers alone and built by her. Sometimes you have to take a moment to reflect on what you have done to figure out where it all went wrong. Fast forward two years after leaving Sewanee, completing her general transfer degree and now entering her second university experience at Tennessee Tech University. What the past two years have given her is strength and the ability to see through the hard times and come out the other side with a new perspective on goals. This time around, they are her goals, and we are even more proud than ever to support her on the next leg of her educational journey. She and I have strengthened a bond that I didn't think could get any stronger. Maybe it has evolved past the place that we were that day I picked her up a broken girl at Sewanee. No matter how close you are bonded with someone, there is always room for growth and evolution. Before I even began to type and backspace and type some more, I was stumped as to what section of the website to put it in. She is after all an Adventure and a Life Love, she is a Recipe and she certainly is Home for me. While missing her has already begun, there isn't the sadness I expected because now she has what she needs within herself and it's all because of her hard work. When you work for someone else's goals or expectations, how do you know if you have ever achieved them or if you are doing them justice? You never do. Yet again, she teaches me as I teach her, and together we will continue to live, love, and grow roots.