Thursday, September 22, 2011
It's a hard thing for me to process really. It's not like it snuck up on me, she's been "growing up" since the day she was born, but here she is 14 years old today and I just can not believe it. She's going to Homecoming tomorrow. HOMECOMING! How can this be?
But I know it's true. Lately she has really shown me her maturity and I'm forced to realize that my baby girl is growing up. Recently an event took place that really tested my role as her mother and although she still needs me, my role has become one of guidance more than enforcement. She is still *only 14 and I am still right behind her because she isn't capable of protecting herself from some dangers, but she is her own person now, and she represents that person well, and so mature on many levels.
She CHOSE to take harder courses this year. She dropped a favorite (drama) for Academic Challenges. She skipped another elective choice to be in AVID, a program that helps you develop study skills, and prepares you for college. She's active in the student council, plays the flute (and also took violin, so she can now play two instruments and read music, something I can not do!) and has the best group of friends. A far cry from her social group last year, which she opted to leave behind, although it was hard, and find friends that raise her up rather than drag her down. I just gave advice on how to put those things into action and achieve her goals, but the choices were hers.
She's healthy. Not just physically, but mentally healthy. She makes good choices and once her mind is made up, there is no stopping her. She's determined and self motivated to be better. These are not signs of a child. These are signs of an adult.
I am so proud of her. She doesn't dwell on things that would have crushed me at her age. She cries and she moves on. She's an amazing person, my daughter or not. She makes it *a little* easier to let go of the apron strings and let her experience life without me holding her hands. It's hard though, because from the moment she was conceived I vowed to protect her with my entire being and it goes against everything in my body to let her go, but it's like a child learning to ride a bike. You run along behind them, pushing and steadying, and eventually you let them go and they can do it alone! You're proud of them, but in that same instant it hits you, that they are suddenly 20 ft ahead of you, continuing in the opposite direction, not needing your push and it becomes a bitter sweet moment that you didn't expect.
That is where I am at on this 14th birthday. I am so proud of everything she has accomplished, and excited about her future goals. I'm watching her ride alone, and gasping at every wobble, wanting to put my hands back on, just in-case. I'm still there to put the band-aid on when she falls, but she is falling less and less. It's great, but bittersweet.
The bond is so different now than it was 14yrs ago. She needs me less, but understands so much more. I hold her less, but we are so much closer. My heart aches for the baby I've lost, but I wouldn't trade the 14yr old I have now for that baby again. As much as I love that little toothless, curly hair toddler, to the point it just HURTS, I love this 14yr old that much more. You lose something precious, but you gain something better. It's bittersweet.
That's being a mom. I knew about the diapers. I was warned about the messes. I expected the worrying and the drama, but the heartache of watching them grow, I just didn't know. It's hard and because I feel like indulging in the tears I feel welling up....