I have three daughters. Emma is my youngest, and she is the only one who still lives at home. When I had Emma I was 38 years old. I never once worried about my age until she was a baby when all of the sudden it hit me that I was old and she was very young. I still remember my step-mom asking me, “Didn’t you think about this when you decided to get pregnant?” She asked me this when I was on the phone with her totally freaked about the difference in age.
Over the years I have questioned what I was thinking. I’ve had numerous conversations with her sisters about how they need to promise to be here for her when I’m not around anymore. Someone will need to nag her about wearing a sweater when she’s 35 years old. It’s possible I wont meet her children or see them graduate from high school. And, no, I did not think about this when I was trying very hard to get pregnant with her. I was thinking about how badly I wanted Steve to have his very own baby girl. What this has meant to him has to be his own story. Let me tell you what it has been to me.
I started staying up in the middle of the night with a baby, right when my other two started sleeping in on Saturday mornings. As soon as they could do their own homework I was nursing a baby. And right when Steve and I could have date nights we started staying in with a baby again. Then, I remembered I would have to teach another person the alphabet and how to count. I realized I would start reading all the baby books over and watching baby shows on TV. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve had the chance to do every single one of these things again.
The first epiphany hit me when both of my older daughters moved out within three days of each other. It was at that moment I realized Emma was my bridge from children to empty nest. She’s my training wheels. I am beyond blessed to have a child that is bridging the gap from all the children to no children. I’m so happy I can see my need for developing my own life and interests outside of motherhood before I’ve been left completely alone.
How many of us say, “Boy, If I had the chance to raise my kids all over again, I’d do it differently.” If you did, what would you do? How would you say things if you were given a second chance? What would really be important, now that you know what you do about raising children?
Well, I have that chance, and I’m using every bit of that second chance I can. This is why I homeschool. This is why I work my schedule around my life with Emma. This is why I have slowed down to listen, and why I’m patient. I know for a fact that she will be gone before I know it, and this is not only my second chance at parenting, but it’s my last chance. It’s my last chance to ever listen to a daughter sing in the shower. My last chance to buy her her first make-up or her first bra. Nothing is small to me. Each event is really an event in my heart. I watch her and I often stop to drink her in, because I know with all my being that this is it. The moments I have with her are only here right now.
Don’t get me wrong, we have those moments that every mother and daughter have. We fight and don’t always agree. I just don’t take it personally, because I totally get that she is just doing her thing of growing up and becoming her own person. I’m relaxed and I let her go when she pulls and it seems like when I do, it’s so much less pulling then I remember with the other two. I was desperate with them, and now I see I didn’t need to be. I can see my older girls becoming strong women, yet they are always going to be part of me. I’m secure in my relationships with them. In turn this makes me relaxed with Emma now because I know what’s in store for us later.
I was at the park with family this weekend and shot a few photos just for fun. Here is my M.Z. I just liked these images of her. Nothing happening, just hanging out, but I’m struck by how grown up she is becoming, and I’m thankful for every moment.