Current listening: Andra Day – Rise Up
So, the H&L writes theme has been rattling around my brain for most of the month. Nothing I thought about could latch on to this idea of self-discovery. I am four days from my only daughter’s eighteenth birthday. I would love to say lightning struck but, in all honesty, the flow came when I was downloading baby pictures and just started bawling. Mom’s know. We all do. We hope, we pray we’ve taught them enough and we just have to let them go and be their own people….and have faith in what we’ve done and in them.
I was 22 in that photo. Yes, I was exhausted. She was 18 months old. How mind-blowing is it to realize you’re responsible for every need of this tiny person that came out of you? People always tell you to hang on to those little moments. People always give you the ‘it goes by fast’. They’re not wrong. I wish I taken more pictures of us together when she was little. More for her than for me. These 18 years have been as much my journey as they have been hers. I grew into the woman I am as she grew up. When other girls my age were going to bars, clubs, getting shit face wasted, I was having a baby. Please don’t misunderstand, this is not a diatribe of regret. I wouldn’t trade a single giggle or a single ‘good morning Mommy’ cuddle for that life. It just forces you to look at yourself harder. It forces you to grow up because that little person is dependent on you. No one else. You. The sun rises and sets on you for them. That’s the reality of motherhood when they’re little.
“You know nothing Jon Snow.” To any fan of Mr. Martin’s work, you know that line. It still makes me snicker. At 22 I knew nothing. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what was right for me, for my life and yet, I kept plugging along for that little girl. I have watched her grow, nurtured her. I taught her to read. I taught her to tie her shoes. I taught her it was okay to cry when she needed to. On the flip side, I taught her that not everything or everyone was worth crying over. (I see all of you moms of little girls right now nodding your heads. I promise, it gets better but don’t wish it away either.)
To anyone who thinks you run into motherhood prepared for anything? Let me take a minute to giggle then guffaw. I had no idea. Most of us don’t. Most of us Mama’s are just out here doing the best we can. I think, for those of us who have our children in our early/mid-twenties, motherhood is as much a journey of self-discovery as growing up is for them. You learn what you can handle. You learn how to put yourself aside for them. You learn what sacrifice means. You learn what being an example means—that last one sticks rough with me. It took me until she was six to realize that she needed a better example than what I was giving. I hung in there through a lot of shit that I shouldn’t have. At almost 40, I look at it now and just smile at that girl. Without her, I wouldn’t be the woman I am. Flaws, scars and all—to be blunt I think I’m pretty damned awesome.
And so, we learn, right? She was learning letters and math. I was learning what it was to build a life over again. I was poking at old, sleeping creative giants. I was poking at that 22-year-old who was still figuring things out and put herself on hold. At 33 I figured it out. I published my first book and the act satisfied something in me. I do not know if I can put words to that sense of fulfillment. It’s like finding something you’ve waited all your life for and, when it happens, you sit just sit there. You’re what I was missing all along. And it’s not a person. Hell, it’s not even anything tangible. It’s like settling into your purpose and figuring out what that means to you. If wishes were fishes I wouldn’t have waited that long. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe it was supposed to be that way. Did it suck at the time? Did it hurt? Oh, hells yes but sometimes I think you have to hurt to get where you’re supposed to go. It’s the nature of life. I think if you go through life and never hurt? You’re not really living.
So, to my little monster almost grown. Thank you for your giggles. Thank you for your cuddles. Thank you for the six-a.m. wake-ups because you were hungry. Thank you for frustrating me beyond imagination. (Yes, I know you imagine big…keep imagining pumpkin.) Thank you for teaching me, through your own innocence, to curb my temper and impulsiveness. Thank you for the unconditional love you’ve given me all your life.
Remember that life is a series of curveballs. Some are amazing and some are awful. How you adapt is everything. It will be hard. It will be a challenge. Keep fighting. Never give up. Keep laughing at the little shit. Save your tears for the times that are worthy of them. You come by your tenacity honestly. Thank you for growing up with me. Love you, Mom.