I remember when we were discharged from the hospital and the nurse walked us out to our car to check that the car seat was installed correctly. Then she handed us the carrier with the 3 day old baby in it and said “have a nice day”. I looked at Patrick and looked at the baby and looked back at Patrick and said “holy shit…what the hell do we do now?”
And the following 18 years have been full of “holy shit…what the hell do we do now?” Any asshole can become a parent. There’s no application process or background check to see if you’re stable enough or able to calmly and responsibly raise another human fucking being. I’m proof of that. I have messed up, misspoken, grounded the wrong kid, not followed through with threats, let them watch too much tv, cussed too much, yelled too much, let too much slide, helped them on homework when I shouldn’t, let them skip school when they were “kinda sick”, ignored them, hovered over them, and a plethora of other horrible awful shit that parents are not “supposed” to do. I’ve also done a handful of things right. I think.
Lately I cry for no reason. I blame it on hormones. Menopause. Being stressed from the build. But honestly…some of it is this overwhelming feeling of loss. I “raised” this little person into a human and she’s about to fly. And the grief I feel is overwhelming. And I didn’t expect that AT ALL. I am an independent loud mouthed strong woman. I am also a Mommy. And its what I’ve been to her for 18 years. It has literally defined me, right or wrong, for 18 years. It’s such an odd juxtaposition to want your kid to go AND stay. She’s ready. Im ready. She NEEDS to fly. It’s time. We are both women now in each others’ way. And at times we are snappy and irritable with each other. And I wonder how that happened…that my little girl became a feisty, opinionated, hard headed, capable woman. And then I realize that’s EXACTLY what I wanted. How funny it is that sometimes when we get what we want it’s bittersweet. And how funny that I’ve never meant the word “bittersweet” more than I do now.
Did I hug her enough? Did I fight for her enough? Did I help her enough? Did I help her too much? Does she know how to do laundry correctly? What if a boy hurts her? What if she sleeps through class? What if…..
There’s no fucking warning label or book that can prepare a woman for going through menopause, building a home, running a business and preparing for her first born to move away to college all at once. And Im far FAR from gracefully navigating this time period. More like stumbling clumsily while an emotional roller coaster wages in me.
When she counts the days down, each day, as to how many days of school until graduation it’s like a knife stabs me in the gut each time she announces it. I am unbelievably proud of her. And happy FOR her for all that’s ahead. Excited really. The sky is the limit when you’re 18. But I also need to pause and honor my feelings…of loss, of transition. Im transitioning from band aid giver, taxi driver, form signing, lunch making Mom to one who calls a time or two a week. And that’s scary for me. But as I type…I realize…its been a minute since I’ve put a bandaid on her, driven her ANYWHERE, or signed anything or even made her lunch. And I guess that’s part of growing up. I can honestly say this is, so far, the hardest part of parenting….the shift in roles, the transition, the change. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was never meant to be a PERFECT parent. I was meant to be HER parent.
“Oh very young
What will you leave us this time
There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you
Will you ride the great white bird into heaven
And though you want to last forever
You know you never will
(You know you never will)
And the goodbye makes the journey harder still”
~ Cat Stevens “Oh Very Young”