As I embark on a new phase of parenting my first born, I’m forced to look back at the job I’ve done as a mother and reflect.
My daughter is graduating High School in 44 days. And in 57 days, her father and I are sending her 1/2 way around the world with one of her friends for a 3 week European adventure.
Reflection #1: When I found out that I was pregnant with her, it was a shock. At first completely terrified. Then overjoyed. The 42 weeks I was pregnant with her were the most glorious days of my life. I enjoyed every moment. Those moments when I was in the bedroom putting my clothes on in the very first trimester and falling back onto my bed because a wave of nausea had come over me…the never-ending craving for Taco Bell…until that fateful day my husband brought it home to me and I turned into the DEMON FROM HELL and threw a hissy-fit in the living room and declared, “I DON’T EVER WANT TO EAT TACO BELL EVER AGAIN! DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!”…when I had to move from my Drive-Thru Teller job at the bank to the teller at the window because my belly was in the way and I couldn’t push the drawer out to the cars anymore…to the day that my water trickled down my leg as I stood in the doctor’s office with my kindred spirit Missy, who had tagged along just to hear the baby’s heartbeat, only for me to bend down to pull up my socks and whammo! My water broke. To the 36 hours I was in labor and she finally was here to hold and kiss and snuggle, it was my job to keep her alive. It was my joy to care for her and see her many firsts.
When you reflect this way and you see a human beings life unfold in front of you, it’s very overwhelming to take in – she’s been my daughter OTW (outside the womb) for 6455 days. Which is 922 weeks and 1 day. That’s 17 years and 246 days, including 4 leap years*, or 17 years, 35 weeks and 1 day. In other words, that’s 212.1 months.
Reflection #2: When I was pregnant I sang NON-STOP. It should come as no surprise then, that by the age of 2, she had an affinity for music and was already vocally gifted. She sang TONS of songs – she called them “girl songs”. She wanted to hear girl songs and if a “boy song” came on, she would lose her SHIT. She would sing every word to every Martina McBride song you could play – whether she could pronounce the word properly or not – and hit most if not all of the notes. We were not phased then, when she began singing more and more as she grew into the pretty little girl that she became.
I remember that when she was 3, we took her to a Martina McBride show at a fairground one summer. We were standing about 3 people from the front of the stage. She was sitting on her Daddy’s shoulders and singing at the TOP OF HER LUNGS every single word. It had gotten to the point that the people around us were watching our little 3 year old singing every word than watching the superstar on the stage…it was a sign of what was yet to come.
Reflection #3: Middle School and finding out who her true friends really are as she transitions into her high school years are probably some of the hardest to deal with. The friends she have had all her life begin breaking away from the rules their parents set and new personalities form. Waters are tested. Friendships are challenged to the breaking point. It’s this time when she really came into her own. Thinking back on my life, I don’t remember going through these moments…but it’s clear that they were there. One moment, her best friend was over spending the night, the next moment that same best friend spread totally false accusations about her through school. Not being the kind of person to talk about her feelings, we found out what had happened only after a complete meltdown had occurred. The stresses of those relationships ending were hard for her, but she came out the other side the type of person that she was happiest being and has really settled into friendships that I’m sure she will have for a lifetime.
The agony of not being able to help your child through those transitions so that they can objectively look at the situation is probably one of the hardest one. They are hurting so much, not only at the loss of a friendship, but the simple fact that things are being completely fabricated about your child and there really isn’t anything that they or you can do about it other than rise above it and eventually those people who thought one thing about her will see that it was untrue and they will see her for the amazingly caring, talented and compassionate person that she is and always has been.
Reflection #4: The end of her high school year is staring at us in the face. I struggle with letting go. I struggle with her changing her mind with her career path – yet in the same breath, want her to be unimaginably happy with everything that she chooses to do with her life. Trying to instill in her the fact that higher education is something that will certainly benefit her – while at the same time impressing upon her that I did not choose that path and in hindsight, wish I had – but her desire to take time off from school is a factor she is seriously entertaining. Realizing that this is her life. I cannot live it for her. That she needs to make her own mistakes and not just listen to the stories that I tell about the mistakes I’ve made. I have to remember that sometimes life is messy. Not everyone finds their life partner at the ripe old age of 19 and lives happily ever after like her father and I did. There will be relationships – grown up relationships. And those relationships will come and go. She will be hurt. She will recover. She will be made stronger by the wise and not-so-wise decisions she makes. We will be there to help her if she falls. It’s a difficult pill for a parent to swallow.
We’ve raised a beautiful young woman. She is intelligent. She is gracious and humble, but at the same time is strong in her convictions and has a self-love that I wish I had at that age, and if truth be told, wish I had now. She’s extremely talented and very caring. If the measure of Motherhood is based off of the reflection in your children’s eyes when they look at you, then I’d have to say that I’ve done well. It’s time for her to spread her wings and experience life. This will be the truest test of parenthood yet. Letting go.