Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They are Definitely Growing Up

   With each of my two children, both girls, I have experienced dozens of corner-turning moments, lots of times when we were certainly crossing thresholds that held bittersweet significance.  And as crucial as each moment felt while we were in it, each of them in fact passed and moved us onward toward another bigger milestone, another dose of pain and pleasure. 

   Some occurred simultaneously for both girls; others shine in my memory just for one sister or the other.  And I am well aware that as grown as they seem today at 15 and 13, still more growth is in store and more separations and reunions loom in the future.  Still many more thousands of miles are left in their life journeys. 


  That is perhaps the strongest evidence that growth has happened:  I can now better separate my need to be close to them from their need just to live their lives as separate, unique human beings.


Or dinosaurs.
 
  Infancy held a dozen revelations every hour.  I loved becoming acquainted with their tiny, beautiful faces, that sweet baby fragrance, their miraculous sounds and overall delicacy.  Learning how to soothe them, following the swell of breast milk, and drifting into the bizarre sleep patterns of those first weeks of life were joyful if mysterious times. 

   Returning to work after six weeks of maternity leave, though, that really got my attention.  I had certainly never hurt so badly before and thought I would never hurt so badly again. 

LOLOLOLOL!!!!!
Amateur.

   I cried hot, vicious tears on my drive from daycare to office, and not just that first day.  It happened on lots of morning drives.  And again when Preschool and Kindergarten started.  Oh, and Middle School.  Oh, and even present day, every single time I drop them off after spending an amazing day together.

   A gentle note to new parents: 
Even if you think today has brought you the hardest lesson,
the deepest pain, the sorest disappointment, etc,
STEEL YOURSELF. 
It gets worse. 

Today is AWESOME
compared to what tomorrow might be.
Enjoy it for all it's worth.

On the other hand,
it also gets much better in surprising ways.
Rejoice in every detail.
It is all part of an amazing plan,
and you will be okay with plenty of love.

  
    Seeing each of the girls walk independently for the first time, both toward me and away from me, those moments convinced me that life was speeding by too fast.  I had no idea that in about five or six minutes I would be enrolling my oldest in summertime Driver's Ed.

   Realizing they no longer needed me to wash their hair at bath time, that stung a little.  It took a long time for me to appreciate the additional free time in the evenings, but I have to admit it is wonderful to have taught them little things like that, to know they care about themselves as young ladies and can take care of themselves.  Now I look forward to maybe washing a grandchild's hair one day. 

One of my all time favorite activities for kids:
Letting them soap and shampoo themselves in the sunshine
after a long day of playing outside.
Just rinse with the garden hose, find some clean dry pajamas,
and go soak up some air conditioning and yummy treats.
Your neighbors will hear the delightful giggles,
and at bedtime you will be afforded some extra cuddling.


   When I noticed that conversations about boys had begun to electrically charge the air, I saw my chickens differently. 

   When my youngest tried on swimsuits one spring and I felt that salty pang of protectiveness, "Don't anybody look at her!!!" I knew things were changing again.
 

   Am I the only dorky mom who felt nostalgic when her kids perfected cursive?  When this happened in our home, I was in shock.  Like everything else, it seemed like only yesterday that we were practicing their crayon-grinding ABC's.

    I knew I was losing my place of authority and guidance in their life when they started telling me about their plans instead of asking me what would be alright, what the family had going on.  And the tone of voice that comes with that shift in power is something a mother cannot forget or ignore.  I am so happy to have lots of video recordings of more innocent times to remind me that there were many years rich with laughter and trust and joy that preceded this darkness.


And then, of course, one day they just up and got tattoos.
Look at her tough expression.  Rebel.  xoxoxo

   So I cannot reduce my feelings and memories into a single moment when I realized the girls were growing up.  They have been growing up ever since they were born.  Difficult circumstances have brought certain things along more rapidly than I would like, but I suppose there would never have come a day when I would be ready to send them out of the nest anyway.


Lorikeets at the Oklahoma City Zoo
Autumn 2003

   Time is fluid but strong, an ever moving river, very much beyond our control and sometimes even our understanding.  Our main job is to love without limits as constantly and as thoroughly as we can.  This goes a long way toward easing the sting of lost time.  Realizing that growing up, moving on, and being happy is exactly what children are supposed to do is a deep, meaningful comfort to parents who hate the echo of an empty nest.

   Count your blessings.  Relish the details of today.  Enjoy your memories and trust that you have thousands more happy memories yet to be made.


Above all, believe in the power of love.


Red Writing Hood          Mama’s Losin’ It

pinnable

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