When my daughter was born, I thought I was ready to take on the challenge of being a mother. I’d read all of the books I could get my hands on and bought the supplies I might need: diapers-check; A&D ointment-check; onesies- check; crib, changing table, Winnie-the-Pooh mobile-check, check and check. I was in labor for 30 hours and pushed for two only to have her taken via C-section. I was exhausted, but when they laid her on my chest, I knew that I was in love with my little fighter.
When my husband and I took her home, I had visions of being wheeled out of the hospital, the weary, but happy, new mother with her beautiful daughter quietly cradled in her arms. Instead, my daughter writhed, kicking and screaming while trying to pull my hair. The little one was a hungry little savage after three days outside the womb.
I quickly discovered that I wasn’t ready. What parent ever is? Late night feedings, learning how to change a diaper without gagging and making sure she didn’t sleep on her belly because that would have been a certain death sentence. I was in love with her and terrified of the responsibility at the same time. But, we both survived and she grew rapidly.
Before long, she was toddling along the floor, holding her walker and grinning from ear to ear because she could do what she’d watched mommy and daddy do with ease. She began couch-surfing and that’s when the fun began. Things near the floor that were safe, had to be placed up high or else they’d find their way into her mouth as she eagerly tried to understand the world with her taste buds. The cat and the dog were disappointed in this development since they were often the targets of my daughter’s explorations.
I woke up one morning to find her standing by my side of the bed, staring at me. I screamed. She giggled. You see, she was still in a crib, with the side rails up. The little stinker must have climbed out of it. We bought her a big girl bed that day.
When her father and I divorced, she was eleven years old. It was up to me to tell her what was happening. She cried and worried that her daddy’s momma in heaven would be mad at her. I reassured her that none of this was her fault. Somehow, she processed my divorce better than I did. When I bought my own house, she drew a sign to hang on her door that said, “Know you’re not alone. I’m going to make this place your HOME.” I knew then, that the two of us would be alright; that we could survive the changes together.
Over the years, I’ve watched her struggle with friends, her weight and school. At some point, my little girl decided to take matters into her own hands. Although she was still passing her subjects, school was on her terms. Her friends would either be loyal or she would walk away from them without looking back. She started eating healthier and working out and over the period of a year, she dropped forty pounds and put all of it back on as muscle.
I taught her how to drive even though she was terrified of it. Her father would scare her away from things so he could keep her safe. I would push her into what terrified her because I knew how strong and smart she could be. She passed on her first try.
When my father passed away, she sat by my side and helped me survive the loss. After the funeral, she pulled out her notebook and we read through the quotes she’d copied; the quotes that verbalized the pain we were both feeling. It was then that I realized the beautiful depths of my daughter’s heart.
She met someone at the gym and I’ve had a chance to watch her fall in love with a boy I’d be proud to call my son.
In a few short months, she will head off to army boot camp to begin her career. Having guided her for so long, it’s time for me to let her take over and live her own life.