I became a mother just before I turned twenty years old, my future husband was only eighteen. We had both dropped out of high school in our junior year, and both had little going for us. We came from broken homes, ugly divorces and together vowed to not go the way of our parents. Come what may, we knew together was how we’d remain.
Born 3 weeks early, in a blinding snowstorm on the first day of February 1997. She came into this world weighing barely 5 pounds. She was pink and perfect. Our beautiful baby girl. Frightened and full of hope we took her home and embarked on our journey together as a family.
We seemingly grew-up alongside our daughter. Learning as we went and following no particular guide. Mothering came so easily to me, my calling had been discovered. My daughter was the missing link I’d been searching for. She and I have been a team since day one. The old adage of “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” never really applied to us. At times I attempted being just her parent, although time and again I failed. I would lose my temper, I acted childish at times and would even argue as though I were a sibling, with her.
The one constant my husband and I have with our kids has been brutal honesty. We demand it from them and they have come to expect it from us. We use inappropriate language. We don’t always sit down at the table together for meals. We have a sense of humor that many would call indecorous. We don’t entertain, nor do we go out on the town. We live in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains, and are happiest when we are living simply and quietly away from the bustle of life.
Our daughter was and remains our claim to small-town fame. When you reside in a tri-town valley with a population of just over 1,700, people know and remember your every move. There were whispers questioning her paternity, questioning my ability to be a responsible parent. There were loud whispers betting on the collapse of our relationship before we even moved in together. We married when our first-born was two years old and nearly twenty-two years later we are happily, solidly, very much together.
Now we find ourselves faced with coming full circle as parents. We have raised our girl, watched her grow into a young lady and now she is preparing to spread her wings and go her own way. She tried going the way of college and found living on campus to not be a fit for her, she completed a semester on campus and decided to try community college instead. She then lived with her boyfriend for a short while and returned home to save some money and live with ease for a time.
I will watch her pack her room and sort through her childhood deciding what to take and what to pack away. I will once again prepare to choke back the tears as I watch her head out that door knowing I won’t be leaving the porch light on for her. I won’t come home to find her trail of belongings left like breadcrumbs for me. There won’t be peanut butter stuck to the side of a spoon or left beside her bed from a late-night snack. I won’t lose my hairspray, lotions or deodorants to the abyss that is her bedroom. I won’t complain daily to my husband or son of the messes she leaves and wonder aloud why she can’t simply hang her jacket on a hook, instead adorning the back of every chair with different style jacket. I won’t have a team member in the room to have my back on the debates of the sexes. I will once again be the one solitary feminine presence in the household.
With her moving will come newness to our relationship that we tasted for a brief moment once before. We won’t be bickering near as often, we won’t know the ins and outs of each other’s daily life and we will find ourselves feeling renewed in our friendship yet again. This is where our closeness in age will have it’s time to shine. We will have our phone calls and daily check-ins yet again. I will share my excitements and frustrations with her and she with me. We will become closer, no doubt in our distance.
They say having a daughter means having a best friend for life. I say that having a daughter has enhanced my life in ways I never could have foreseen. Being a mother, her mother, has brought my life meaning and purpose. In my daughter I have found the pieces of me that I never knew I longed so deeply to find. Now as she begins to embark upon making her own life; independent of her father, brother and I, we will watch with a wistful excitement and wish her to find all the joys in this life that she has brought to us.