I’ve been a mother for 27 years. And although my daughter is the same age, she will, always in my mind, be my baby.
On a car ride home from a New Year’s Eve party and a discussion about another party she and her man were going to, I pulled out all the mom stops – because it’s what I do. A mini-lecture on driving on hazardous, snowy roads, not getting behind the wheel if either of them had been drinking, promises to text when arriving and leaving were all accompanied by heavy sighs and quiet a few gasps of indignation…from my daughter.
Then she said something that put everything into perspective for me.
“You know,” she quipped, “You were married at my age. Did anyone say these things to you?”
Utter silence in the car. Then, tears started to swell up in my eyes when I realized what she was telling me. Something I guess I’ve never accepted, wanted to accept, or thought about, really.
My baby was no more. She was a grown-ass woman, more intelligent than I’ll ever be, and responsible for her decisions, actions, and thoughts. My job as the voice in her head is done. I’d raised her; instilled in her a moral and ethical code; educated her both mentally and spiritually. I’d given her roots and wings, a shoulder to cry and lean on if needed, and the where-with-all to problem solve, conceptualize, and theorize.
She lives on her own in a city one thousand times larger than the town she grew up in; commutes every day to a powerful job using public transportation, pays rent, supports herself, and travels all around the world….without me holding her hand.
She doesn’t need her mommie telling her what to do. She doesn’t need my reminders for safety. And she certainly doesn’t need me second guessing her actions and decisions.
When does your baby stop being your baby? When can you mentally let the little child who used to reach for your hand, unbidden, when walking on the street, forge ahead on her own? Not want to reach out and protect her from every bad thing that could potentially happen? Keep her safe, and snug, and protected? When can your heart follow your head and say everything will be okay, don’t worry, keep calm?
Does it ever? Can it ever?
So, after I dried the tears, I said the one thing that I’d never thought I’d hear myself say, hear myself think: “Okay. You’re a grown-ass woman, not a two-year-old. I’ll stop. And I’ll respect your maturity. Truly.”
And I will.
But there’s still that little niggle deep inside that wants her to reach out and hold my hand….