Stop! Rewind! Can I have a do-over?
My girls are now almost 20 and 16. I see pictures when they were little. Memories caught in a snapshot. I have memories of them learning to walk, talk and seeing the world’s wonders.
Parenting is a hard but amazing job. I have never wished them to remain small because I always loved exactly the stage where they were. I have enjoyed all of them, from the infant stage, the terrible twos, which weren’t all that bad as long as you give them the space to be two. Pre-school, school, adolescent, and high school. Now college for one of them.
Good grief though, now what? What if I wasn’t paying close enough attention to everything to have memories of them when I was old. Maybe I was spending some of their growing up time, trying to find myself and divorcing their Dad. What if I wasn’t there for them?
My girls love me, and they think I am a good Mom. But was I a great Mom?
Did I notice their outfit the first time they picked out their clothes and got dressed?
Did I read to them every book they ever handed to me?
Did I play with them enough?
Or did I play into the black hole of busy-ness. Doing the dishes before playing a game? Making sure the house was picked up before we had fun. Waiting until the weather was just perfect before we went outside?
Did I teach them enough? To get by? To notice all the beauty in the world around us, to help them teach their children to see it? Believe in it?
My oldest is away at college, quite an accomplishment, and I am very proud. I wonder sometimes, if she has what she needs to cope, and to deal with what she is doing right now. I think she is pretty well equipped. A friend once told me that if she was ready to go, with no trepidation, she is capable of taking good care of herself at school. We did a good job. She was excited to go, as part of her new life; she knew how to do laundry, cook and clean. She has boundaries about how she will allow others to treat her and she has a good level of self esteem. She is awesome.
My youngest is in high school, a junior. She lives mostly with her Dad because of the proximity to school. I am very sad about this. I spend time with her when I can, but also try not to cramp her style with her life, activities and friends. I think we always worry more about the youngest child. They have many others to do for them than the older ones. They can be treated like the baby in the family forever. Recently, my youngest wanted to take the train by herself to go for a visit to a nearby but much larger city. I was nervous and my first inclination was to say no and drive her myself. She then reminded me how at the same age as she is right now, we had let her sister fly out of state. When they come to you with data and evidence, you know for one thing, that you have a smart cookie on your hands who wants to be treated like everyone else. She wants to grow up. And the thing is, I have to let her.
I say let her, however there isn’t really anything I can do to stop her. Nor, when I get right down to it, do I want to. Kids need to take control of their lives at some point. Or they won’t survive.
Years ago, I told her how I was worried about her, how she was too trusting and she wouldn’t try anything or take care of herself. She was like a little deer and the world would eat her up.
Let me tell you, there is no way she would be eaten up now. She does so much more for herself, she has set boundaries in her friendships, relationships and what she expects from herself, in her grades, what goals she sets for herself. She makes me very proud too.
So, I guess they are ok. I am doing a good job. As much as I wish we could all go back 15 years and have a day when they are small, and climb up onto my lap and call me Mommy again; I am just going to have to look at photos and remember them, and me back then and look at them now and enjoy them now.
I’m so grateful. I have loved every minute of it, and someday, I will get to have their little people climb up onto my lap, and I will get to see them in those little people; and enjoy all of them.
See them being Mommies.
I am loving every minute of it.