Friday, August 27, 2010

Birthdays and Bittersweet Days

::Sigh::  My little girl had her first day of college this week.  She's adapting beautifully, as I knew she would, and I doubt college will cause her any more worry than high school did.  She's just awesome like that, she figures out what's necessary and just makes it happen. Her 18th birthday was yesterday and the day wasn't as joyful for me as it was for her.

After I got the kids off to school and the Hub left for work, I sat on the couch and I cried.  You know the kind, just weepy, sorry-for-yourself crying.  I was thinking about how many days in my mothering career had been like this...Days you look forward to and then, when they arrive, there's a tinge of sorrow that something is lost:  The future is exciting, but the past was precious and it's gone.  The first step, which was just the first one into the world and away from Mom.  The first day of Kindergarten, when she dismissed me with a sweet, "See you later, Mom." And I went in the hall and cried because she didn't.  The day she got on the bus and went to the same High School where I went and my father went before me. And I was so proud of her calm assurance and terrified of the years ahead, which turned out to be a breeze with her. (May they be as trouble-free for her siblings.) The day she got her driver's license, which I held off for months because I just wasn't ready to turn her loose on the world. That night she didn't just walk away from me, she flew. And I prayed every time she left the house, and twice if someone else was driving.  Prom, when she looked so beautiful I could hardly believe she was trusted to me. And I could barely breathe as I watched that boy help her tuck her dress into the car so they could close the door.  Graduation, when I could hardly contain how pleased and proud I was of her, and I knew that my days with her were numbered.  She will leave soon, and she won't be calling to tell me when she's coming home.

And, yesterday, her 18th Birthday. 18. I can't believe it when I hear it, it sounds so foreign.  It was just a few days ago that I held that colicky, screaming baby and bawled because it was going to be FIVE YEARS before she went to school, and in a blink I was watching her get on the school bus.  I keep thinking about all the games I was too busy to play and how much I would like to be able to kiss those chubby baby fingers clutching a bouquet of weedy flowers for me one more time.

 I looked at her best friends and her boyfriend standing around the table and what a great group they are! Good, sweet, smart kids.  Positive and going places.  I watched as they saved cake for the one who had to work and the one who has gone far enough away to college that she couldn't be here to blow out candles.

I love them all. I've watched them all grow up.  I'm proud of every one of them and so grateful to them for taking care of my baby, because we all know our high school friends nurture us a lot like a second family. They're a pretty awesome group.

So, I guess I have a few bittersweet days with her to get through yet: another graduation, the day she moves away from home, the day she marries, the day she gives me a grandchild.  Then I can start over with a new little life.  May I do a better job as Grammy than I have as Mommy.

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