My daughter turned nine years old yesterday. She is my eldest child. When she was born into this world, I was born into motherhood. Now, this morning, the day after her ninth birthday, I realize she is closer to her eighteenth birthday than she is to the day she was born. With the revelation that I am, essentially, at the halfway point of my parenting career with her, it’s hard not to take a few moments and consider where I stand.
I stand a near-decade away from those interminable nights of lying awake wondering if my brand-new daughter was safely asleep in her crib down the hall. While she slumbered, I wondered if I should swaddle her tighter, use organic bath wash, or pay more attention to “tummy time”. I would gradually drift asleep with one thought remaining, “I guess I will do the best I know how.” My feet are firmly behind the war-zone lines where battles and wars were fought regarding which side of the slice of bread the jelly goes on, why sandals are not appropriate winter footwear, and why toddler hands do not belong near a stove-top. Those battles were sometimes long and drawn-out when the wee toddler showed the determination and stubbornness that had only been seen in the likes of… well, her father. My strides have taken me through emotional storms of postpartum hormones, seemingly insurmountable doubts of my parenting abilities, conflicting desires to hurry-up this tedious job and at the same time beg the clock to just SLOW DOWN FOR MINUTE OR TWO OR THREE!!! I have slipped and fallen; I have tripped and stumbled; and I have skipped and leaped and jumped a time or two. I have stepped along so many milestones cheering her on; first steps, lost teeth, two-wheel bikes, new schools, diving into pools. The moments have been photographed or recorded, but mostly the journey is imprinted on my heart.
I am here with nine years of parenting history behind and look out towards nine more years ahead. I just might have an idea about what the future holds for me. I will pace nervously in my bedroom during MORE endless nights wondering if she is safely asleep in her bed down the hall, or at a friend’s house, or in her college dorm. I will wonder if I should sign her up for more extra-curriculars, let her go to the movies with that boy, or insist that she make her bed every morning. I will try to find my sleep with the thought, “I am doing the best that I know how.” I will continue to try to find solid footing on battles over clothes and friends and school-work and tone of voice and curfews and music choices and music volume and cell phones and social media boundaries and car keys and which college to attend and so much more. I hope that while she may not look at me and see a friend, that she will also not look at me and see a foe. I hope our battles will be interspersed with peacetimes at coffee shops and practice fields and laying on her bed talking about whatever comes to her mind. I am confident that I will have to stride through tween/pre-teen/teen hormonal angst like none I have ever imagined. These next nine years will surely make me second-guess my mothering instincts and continue to have a love-hate relationship with the clock… it’s unfailing ability to neither tick faster nor slower. I nervously step up to the milestones that lie in front of me; school dances, wins and losses, driver’s license, first loves and heartbreaks, and so many more “real life” moments that will be so very important to her along the way. I hope I will know how to encourage while giving her space, letting her fall but giving her a place to land, letting her know she will always, always be my baby girl.
So here I stand, closer to embracing my daughter as a young woman than I am to snuggling her new-baby self. I am not sure if I want to cry for days gone by or smile for adventures to come. For tonight, I will probably just sit down and do both.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words…
well today’s blog is worth five doodles:
Today’s quote isn’t famous, but just a reminder:
“I’m going to do the best that I know how.”
– an average mother