It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. ~Joyce Maynard
My oldest child turns 23 in an hour and a half.
22 was a year of big things for Brighid – not always good things, but big things. She spent most of the year living away from home, learning the good and the bad about running a home, paying bills, and struggling to balance everything. She also moved back home, swallowing a bit of pride, learning how to share with sisters and do chores all over again – teetering between being a real grown up and a grown child. She made changes in her career goals, altering her educational plans so that she ends up graduating a full semester sooner. She lost – then found – love. She made genuine re-connections with friends, and made genuine new friends that have become increasingly important in her life. She has gone from informed and interested voter to informed and invested candidate. She may have even made one or two decisions on her own about what to wear when she’s going out. That alone brings a tear to my eye.
As we begin her 23rd year together, I see things differently than I did a year ago. I see a more determined, more sure person than I saw at age 22; one who seems to have found a path she’s comfortable on and convinced she can navigate. She seems certain about the goals she’s set and her ability to achieve them. She has fewer questions and more answers. When she asks my advice, is not so she can go against it; it’s because she might actually benefit from it.
Then I finally realized what it was I was seeing. As Brighid has grown, so have I. I’ve evolved as a mother, and without babies in the house, I can see these kids as they truly are – their personalities, quirks, and their individual brilliance. I recognize them equally as people and as my daughters. I am at the same time both awed by them and impressed with them. With each passing birthday, they grow; I grow; the vision we have of each other grows.
Each birthday is a milestone – bittersweet to be sure, but growth always is. Gone are the beautiful babies I rocked to sleep, but they have been replaced with these amazing, incredible people I am so grateful to know – grateful to be a part of.
These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish?
~Phyllis McGinley, “Ballad of Lost Objects,” 1954
Happy birthday, Brighid. I am as excited for the accomplishments I know you will achieve as I am proud of the ones you’ve already earned. Love you!