Today, my first baby turned 17.
This is when she was just a couple months old…if that.
And this is us today…. she is bigger than me now!
I have one year left at home with this one, before she heads off to college. I know I won’t be close to having an empty nest yet….but she will be sorely missed as a daily presence in my life. She has magically grown into this….person….who I have come to depend on in so many other ways than simply as a child, the first of four.
she is coming to the end of childhood, of her teenage years, and the start of adulthood. REAL adulthood. And all the joys and horrors that come with it.
I am happy for her, terrified for her, but mostly really, really excited for her.
I sat with her at a college visit last week, almost crying as I pictured her maturing and changing into a bona fide grown up during those years away at school. All the opportunities open to her, I can’t wait to see where life takes her, and I can’t BELIEVE we are at this point already…… I just had her. I can relive that day, I still see that purple baby they put on my stomach, me rubbing her foot, not really knowing what else to do, not able to register yet that my life had just changed in an immeasurable way. A wonderful way.
And then I look over here…..
And see my 17-month old taking her first half-naked selfie…with MY phone!
And I wonder…… am I strong enough to go through this again?
Of course, raising a daughter is difficult. Is it possible for me do as well with this one? And whose to say I had anything to do with the first one turning out so well? (so far!)
I can look back on the times my oldest has hated me, the times I’ve truly disliked her. The lies I’ve caught her in, the “discussions” about why certain things are NOT ok for her to do. The worries, the heartbreaks, and the accomplishments along the way.
The maternal RAGE when my child has been hurt, teased, bullied. Because sadly, it seems to happen to everyone at some point.
Oh, it’s not easy for girls to grow up.
I can say from my own experience, and the collective experience of so many girls and women I know….. the teen years pretty much suck. High school is generally something we would prefer not to go back to. Ever. For so many reasons, much of it due to the fact that it is PAINFUL to be a teen. Transitioning between childhood and adulthood, it is not a great place to be in many ways. We take our uncertainty out on our peers, on ourselves, and of course, on our hapless parents. There is a reason it’s call teen angst.
Talking to my oldest today about how much different life is after the high school drama is over….and looking at my 17 month old, who has no clue what it means to feel unsure of yourself, or worried about what your peers think of you….who could care less if the other tots like her new sundress or not.
I’ve got one daughter at the end of her childhood, and one just beginning. I hope I can be whatever each of them needs, whenever they need it. I hope my oldest will be there to help guide the youngest, providing sisterly advice that will probably trump my motherly advice.
I hope, I hope, I hope.
And I hope, in the end, that I haven’t screwed up too badly. That my girls remain as close to me as we are now, even closer. I hope they live happily and love deeply….. and grow to be strong, independent women.
And of course, if they are ever blessed with daughters…… I will wish for them the same thing my mom, and millions of moms have wished for their own daughters……
“I hope you have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU!!!”….