I learned something life altering at the Gwen Stefani concert last Sunday.Raising girls has taught me to be a better woman. My little girls are no longer little girls. . It is beautiful and sad at the same time. On one hand, they amaze me by the young ladies they are becoming but on the other hand, to be honest, I am nostalgic for the babies who so desperately needed me. I’m torn. Happy for this new phase of real closeness that’s replacing the relationship where I got to be the hero. But, on the other hand, I do miss being the hero. Being human in your child’s eyes is both humbling and liberating but absolutely equalizing. Everybody who has ever had a child that’s grown into an adult knows this. I’m still figuring this all out.
Something strange is happening in our house, the girls are growing up and turning into actual human beings that I love spending time with. The thing is that this is not what I expected. I based my parenting beliefs on one untruth that my daughters would naturally separate from me as they grew older. I was dreading it but this is something I was counting on saving me from dying from a broken heart when they leave for college. But, contrary to my experience with my own mother, we seem to be growing even closer as they enter these years and this scares the hell out of me. How am I to survive the pending separation in a few years?
I’m not the kind of mom who would ever keep her kids close for her own satisfaction. I had that done to me and, honestly, I think it truly altered the course of my life. No, I believe that if you love something you have to set it free. I have to give my children wings to fly, no matter how much my selfish heart wants to clip them and keep them with me forever. The thought of not seeing their faces every single day breaks my heart. I try not to think about it too much.
Lately, I find myself catching my breath at the realization that I made this. When they were newborns, I used to be in awe of their sheer perfection. How could someone so imperfect give life to something so amazing and unscathed? But now, I sometimes watch them while they sleep and stand in silence and awe because I can’t believe these amazing humans they are becoming. It’s more than just cute and smart and funny, it’s big hearts with passionate minds and an openness that blows my heart wide open. They’ve been living in this world and they actively pursue goodness. They strive to love in a world filled with so much hate. They inspire me to be better. Then I’m stopped in my tracks when I realize they are reflections of their father and I and that’s wow. HUGE!
I remember being thrilled with each passing milestone; each defiant act of independence made my heart explode a little bit. The thing is this summer, there has been a huge shift happening, one I never anticipated…my girls are becoming human beings that I really enjoy being around. I thought I’d never be able to love them more than when they were sweet little newborns and toddlers and depended on me for survival but there is certainly something to be said for your children choosing to be around you rather than just needing to for survival.
This summer has brought some slight physical changes in my girls, things I won’t talk about because it’s my blog and not my story to tell, but I will say at a time when most girls begin to shut their mom’s out, my girls seem to be turning to me for guidance. Yep, I am as baffled by this as you because when I was a tween and I started “changing” I shut my mom out, first thing. But instead, they’re coming to me with questions, and for hugs and guidance.
Somewhere between the last day of school, all of these little changes have been happening very subtly. My cute little caterpillars are changing like whispers into butterflies. We have real conversations about real things and they listen and want my advice. It’s almost overwhelming because I was prepared for battle and instead, I’ve found allies. I didn’t think it was possible to love them any more than I already did but I was wrong. The bond is getting deeper.
The changes are small, minute almost, but they are definite. Suddenly, my baby is almost as tall as me and her feet are only a size smaller than mine. We can shop from the same stores and in the same departments but the thing that surprised me the most is that instead of wanting to be nothing like me, they want to be exactly like me. I don’t deny them this because they could definitely have worse role models. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed when the oldest wants to dress alike because I’m sure the perception by strangers is that I’m trying to look younger by dressing like my daughter. That’s definitely not the case. I think, in her way, she uses it as a way to pull closer to me at a time when she feels herself naturally pulling away.
It’s a whole host of moments that have happened this summer. The kind that you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention. Moving into the juniors department and leaving the kid’s department behind. A new perspective and dedication to the things they love, not that of a fickle child but of a determined young lady. Suddenly, they are spending more time at the side of the pool talking to me on a lounge chair than cannon balling. Then there are the glances from boys that I don’t think they even notice, but I see it happening.
Their taste in music has improved drastically. We’ve long been past the days of the Wiggles and YoGabbaGabba (well, not too long they will still listen if a CD finds its way into the cd player) but they have been comfortably smack dab in Radio Disney land and that’s ok. They love pop music but suddenly they are developing a taste for alternative and rock and and an openness to all kinds of music (like myself). In fact, we took them to their first ever concert (that wasn’t a kid’s group) to see Gwen Stefani and her This is what the truth feels like tour and they loved it and we loved seeing them love it. It was definitely a moment that I will never forget.
School starts back next week and I’m honestly sad to see our summer together over. The school year brings with it obligations, rehearsals and a full schedule. We literally have one free day a week. I only have 7 more years, 7 more summers with my oldest in my house before she leaves for college and I can tell you definitely, it is not even near enough.
They say childhood goes by fast but in those first few days holding your newborn, you can never imagine just how fast. It’s a flash and I think if you do it right, when the time comes to send your child out into the world, it will break your heart into a million pieces but you will be able to take peace in the fact that they know you will always be their home and you are always there if they need to come home. At least that is what I’m believing from my short 11 years of parenting.