Earlier this week I took my daughter to the gynecologist for her first visit. For me, it was one responsibility in a long list of parenting checklist items. Each thing crossed off the list gets her closer to independence and being more prepared to try and navigate adulthood.
Strange to be walking into the same office I walked into 19 years ago when I was in my second trimester carrying her. My OB delivered her. Dr. Sjulin was the first person to touch my daughter as she came into this world. She was the person who reassured me she was ok as she took care of the things that happen during and after delivery that nobody ever talks about.
As far as I can tell they don’t talk about those things because the memory of them pales in comparison to the frenzy of getting a first breath from and stats on this tiny new human as quickly as possible. The rush of it expedited so she could be returned quickly and safely to the weak and incomprehensibly needy arms of her mama.
She was 6 pounds and 6 ounces and just so tiny. Her head was pink and misshaped from the trauma she’d just been through. But she was perfect. No wonder I don’t remember having stitches. No wonder I don’t remember what was said amongst the staff or anything my husband said. The world is silent in the shadow of a miracle.
In a way, taking my daughter into that office was a kind of Baton passing. Mother to daughter. All the conversation and sharing of experiences wrapped up in these steps toward her becoming an adult. It’s a lesson you want to teach your children.. to take care of their bodies and health. To be educated and to be their own advocate.
That was earlier this week. Last night I sat in her room with her with painters tape and a sharpie. I marked her moving bins and laundry baskets with her name and dorm address. I listened while she worried out loud that she has too much stuff and I tried to reassure her it would be fine.
We’ve talked about this day for a while now. Her moving into the dorm room at the university and what it would be like. I’ve reminisced about her first day of kindergarten and how all the parents were coached ahead of time to keep it together because kids are affected by their parents emotions and if you lose it, the kids will have a hard time.
I did good that day. Camera at the ready I kept my cool all the way into the classroom, seeing her grab the hand of her pre-school best friend as they sat next to each other in the circle of tiny humans. She was so excited and happy. I held my composure until I was out that door and down the hall, headed back outside the building. Interesting that the memory of that is also muted. I only remember details of her in the classroom and not much after that.
Today we’re loading all her stuff into the car and driving toward college. By the time this day is over, she will have crossed another threshold and I will once again be trusting the Universe with my precious baby. It’s hard to trust that she will be ok. It’s tough to let go.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned these past few years, it’s that we don’t have to let go. We can hold on to and cherish all these experiences of our lives. I’m not letting her go. I’m helping her enter this next phase of her life successfully.
There’s been no coaching for this day. Just advice. “Wear sunglasses” they said, so people can’t see you’ve been crying.
To that I say, I don’t care.
My daughter is cut from my cloth. She’s got her own checklist and openly admitted to crying when she drove away from her fathers house yesterday. She talked about being really sad to think about not being with her brother anymore. Which I had not considered.
Being divorced, we’re all long used to being apart for days and so I positioned her leaving for school as just a longer time away. For her though, she’s always with her brother. They may not always see eye to eye but they are always together at home, at school, in the car, and on vacation. When she said to me that being apart from her brother was making her really sad, it hit me hard.
She also worried that telling me that might hurt my feelings in some way. Yeah.. that’s MY girl! Sensitive and empathetic. Intelligent and creative. Beautiful inside and out.
I’m excited for her. Also anxious, and nervous, and sharing in her swirl of emotions. I think I’ll be able to keep it together if she does. But the moment she breaks down, it’s game over for both of us.
That’s it folks. Time to stop walking and start doing.
Cheers to Moving Day,