The baby who came into this world upside down is not a child, or a girl anymore. She’s a young woman.
I have raised her.
And it’s time to say farewell. Farewell, my girl.
Not really, but this next phase in life as a parent sure drums up some thoughts in my mind.
Eighteen years have flashed by in a blink of an eye. An instant. Yes, cliché, and all.
Here, I sit on the eve of a long journey, to a place farther north than she has ever lived, a place where she will start her new life and conduct her own affairs.
I ran the ultimate parent marathon—raising my child (and yes, I couldn’t have done it without my husband).
The idea of an eighteen-year childhood is obscure when you are starting out. It’s so difficult to imagine all the changes that will occur along the way. From what your cute baby will look like as an adult to what she will love and hate through the years, it’s practically impossible to predict the adult when you’re looking at your child and the long stretch of time unfolding in front of you.
So, like every other parent on the planet who idealizes parenthood, I also started out with hopes, dreams, and ideals. Many of them have been fulfilled, and even surpassed.
And, like many of you, I wanted my kids to be better than I ever was. To have more opportunities than ever I had. To achieve more than I ever could.
I wanted my girl to be smarter, funnier, kinder, wiser, safer, and grounded. I wanted her to grab the world by the tail and run with it.
Despite the inevitable ups and downs of childhood and adolescence, the predicable disagreements and discussions, and the expected limit testing and wasted opportunities along the way, my girl has found her way.
I thought I would be the perfect mom. Born with the instinct and insight of an attuned, sensitive parent. Just like all the parenting books describe a parent should be.
The truth is, I wasn’t always a natural parent. I made my mistakes along the way (a lot of them if you ask her!).
I didn’t make ‘homemade’ everything. I wasn’t always smiling when I saw her come into a room, nor did I always have a lot of patience. And I certainly have had a hard time accepting my parenting mistakes (and still do).
So, on this eve of college and a new life, I look back on eighteen years with a mix of emotions.
Relief. She survived me—my parenting– and she made it!
Sadness. I will miss her mood swings, messy room, and leadership in our family…more than she will ever know.
Happiness. I know she’s got what it takes to make it in this world. The best is yet to come!
Doubt. Was I as good a parent as I could’ve been? Did I do right by her?
One thing I know for sure is that those eighteen years were just borrowed time. A time to teach, love and learn from one another.
While those years may have been the launching pad for my girl, they were a gift for me.
And she sure has been one of the best gifts I have ever received.