Saturday, May 17, 2014

Successes and Shortcomings

D graduates in three weeks. Three. I knew it would go fast, but I didn't imagine getting to three short weeks. During the last three years, I wasn't sure we would make it to this point. But here we are.

Of course this is a time of reflection. A time to think about what we've been through, how beautiful she is, how she frustrates and surprises me in the same half hour, and what kind of parent I've been. I have failed a lot. In little ways, in big ways. I can't help but feel regret for those moments. Knowing there were plenty of times I could do better. So much advice I would give to my 27-year-old self and my 35-year-old self.

I knew as a parent of a baby to appreciate every moment. I would hold her for hours, not putting her down for naps, but rocking with her. Memorizing the feel of her baby skin and how her small body weighed on me and how long she was as she grew. I inhaled every bit of baby scent I could get. As she grew, I talked to her constantly. I taught her "sign language" before she could use words. I encouraged her sentences and relished in her tiny accomplishments. Babies are so easy that way. So eager to please and to smile and to laugh. D was no exception and she was just, overall, an easy baby. An angel at two with no tantrums. I couldn't have been any luckier.

By second grade I was tired. I have never enjoyed school assemblies or concerts or any other event that required parent participation. Mostly because I don't want to suffer through 60 other people's kids to see mine do something for 45 seconds. She did ballet so I drove back and forth to practice multiple times a week. I was trying to hold together a relationship that was always destined for failure. D had her own likes, dislikes, and agendas. They didn't always mesh with mine and I lost my focus. I was more concerned with grades and behavior than with who she was and who she would become. Mostly, I stopped having fun with her.

My biggest regret is that I didn't have more fun with her. I forgot to remember to treasure the little moments. I never forgot that I loved her and would do anything for her, but there are very few occasions in which one actually has to save the life of her child. The love is really in the little things. Vacations reminded me of what an incredible person she is and I started to live for those rather than the hour on a Sunday where we did nothing but sit back and appreciate that minute. She begged for my attention but I didn't want to play Chutes and Ladders. I didn't want to play some dumb video game with her. I chose not to relish those moments, thinking that the big ones would suffice.

Teenagers are a completely different animal. Her depression both pulled us apart and pushed us together. I have pushed her away and pulled her towards me in the same way. This last year especially required a lot of my mental and emotional energy. Fortunately, there isn't a whole lot I would do differently in that sense. She was my sole focus. Her life became my purpose. And maybe that needed to happen. I think I needed to be reminded of who I was as a mother.

Now every moment feels bittersweet. Her last play. Her last concert. Her last prom. Her last, her last, her last. I think I've cried more over her growing up this last year than in the previous 17 years combined. Senior pictures reminded me so sharply of her one-year-old portrait session. She even wore denim similar to her tiny little dress in those photos. Prom made me sob for about half an hour. The graduation announcements arrived and I couldn't even read them. She now watches me for the tears that she has learned to expect.

These moments are poignant because they just are and they're supposed to be, but it's more than that. I'm losing her to her adult life. It's coming. It's just down the street. I hear it and I'm trying to be ready. I'm finally trying to be what she needs me to be. Problem is, my feelings get in the way. I want my baby back. I want another chance. I want to fix my mistakes. I want to be the mom with endless patience and hours of time and the sincere desire that I had when her feet were so tiny and she needed me so much. She needs me less now and it's both heart-wrenching and rewarding. Mostly it's just too much to process in three weeks.

So I'll cry. I'll beam with pride and cry some more. I will continue to be amazed at how beautiful she is. How surprisingly talented because that doesn't come from me. I can't claim that one. And I'll cry some more.

You can find me on June 8th in the corner. Crying and spilling with pride at the same time.


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