Yesterday, my baby girl turned 18. How did that happen? How did she go from being that little baby in the white bonnet discovering the beach for the first time, to a college bound young woman with a job and a drivers license?
I guess I must have blinked.
She did come into this world in a hurry, just 45 minutes from the beginning of labor to delivery. We like to joke that if we’d hit a few more red lights, she might have been born in the front seat of a Honda Civic! And as a toddler, she was the kind of kid you had to hold on to while you locked the front door or else she would be down the block and around the corner before you turned the key.
But then she slowed down. She became thoughtful. When she became old enough to realize that other people had feeling, she worried about hurting them or about them being sad. I remember when we played “Chutes and Ladders” or “Candyland” she would make me take extra turns so we finished at the same time. “There, mommy,” she’d say, “You win too.”
This empathy carried through as she got older. For many years she avoided playing sports, choosing instead to cheer her brother through baseball and basketball games. She couldn’t bring herself to be competitive enough. No matter who won, someone else had to lose. In high school, however, when a friend convinced her to join the tennis team, she agreed because she said it was a very polite sport. At the end of each match, you shook hands with your opponent and said “Good game.” No anger, no hard feelings (on the surface at least!).
She loved playing, loved being part of the team and bonding with the other girls but she worried about letting them down when she didn’t play her best. Her coach told her that the only skill she lacked was confidence. She lacked that drive to win. I must say though, that she still had a pretty good record and she enjoyed playing which was the point.
As a mom, I worry about this need of her’s to make everyone happy. I worry she will be taken advantage of. I walk the line between wanting her to stand up for what she wants, and not wanting her to compromise this kind and giving side of herself. Luckily, she has surrounded herself with friends who have her back and force her to choose herself sometimes. Smart kid.
She has an amazing eye for detail, arranging her room or a table setting to look just so. She notices everything and can capture a moment perfectly, whether in a photograph or a poem, and even though she has chosen to study business management, I hope she keeps up with these more creative pursuits as well. I think they help her express things she is sometimes too shy to say. Being quiet allows you to observe unnoticed but I also want her to stand up and be noticed for all the wonderful things she is.
Of course she has her quirks that sometimes make us nuts. There are those “teenage mood swings” that surface from time to time, and don’t ask her to make a choice if you’re in a hurry. She could be all day making up her mind, waiting till the absolute deadline to decide on which college to attend, but even choosing what dessert to have or what outfit to wear takes her a while. This is probably something we should warn her future husband about.
So I blinked and my baby grew. She struggled and she flourished. She cried and she laughed. She lived and she learned and I’m so very proud of the person she has become. I’m glad I was able to watch it all happen, regardless of how fast it went. For now I will keep watching. I think the future is going to be pretty amazing too….
I better be careful not to blink.