I am having a hard time with the idea that in 11 days, my daughter turns 21. It seems like yesterday I was walking her into kindergarten. I know time continues forward, but wow.

My daughter, Maddie, is in her senior year at a local university. We will get to mark her 21st birthday and then in another 19 days, her college graduation. It has gone by in the blink of an eye. After this graduation, she is off to graduate school.

As a parent, you hope all the right lessons have been learned by your children and that you have given them all the tools to make it as a young adult. Just because the calendar says a person is 21 and the law allows for various legal things he or she can now do, by no means does this mean you are a fully-fledged adult. Heck, I am still learning, and I know she will stumble and fall some.

However, I love the young adult she is becoming. At her current university, there is a program that she has been part of for two years – Propel. Through this program, Maddie has been a mentor to young people, many around her age, who face learning challenges. Through this program, she has found her calling and will study special education in grad school.

Last year, when we spent time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, I had the opportunity to listen to Maddie as she mentored “her students,” as she calls them. I listened to her offer words of direction, encouragement and joy. I look at her and see someone who will practice the three Fs: firm, fair and fun.

She has a strength I envy, as I have listened to her be diligent and authentic as she worked with her students to complete their assignments and help them find their many successes.

Maddie has also been a member of the Her Campus online magazine. The product is aimed at the young women of the school. They share columns and ideas about health, stress management, beauty, vacation and study habits. Maddie has written about many subjects during these two years. She has written about her love of the Chiefs and her adoption. She has shared dealing with anxiety and being in a long-distance relationship. One of my favorites is her recent article about body image.

While Maddie doesn’t want to be a writer like her mom, she has learned to be expressive with her words and thoughts. Maybe I can claim a small victory that she enjoys crafting a well-defined sentence. So, to my psychology-majoring, criminal justice-minoring daughter who works as a mentor on campus for students with disabilities and is passionate about food, advocacy and her favorite sports teams, let me be one of the first to wish you a very public happy 21st birthday.Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

Community Life Editor Kellie Houx wishes her daughter, Maddie Houx, a public and happy 21st birthday.

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