There's only two years left until my daughter goes to college. She turns 16 this summer, and in all that hoopla, she'll get a driver's license (heartstopping in and of itself) go on a few dates, go to girls camp, and work as a certified lifeguard at the local pool.
You know all those older ladies in the grocery store, the ones who see you with a newborn baby and tell you to treasure her, she'll be gone before you know it? You try to be polite, and say something like, yes, I know, but you really don't. You have no clue how fast it goes.
How can it go fast, you wonder as you wearily walk down the produce aisle. The last few weeks have been a blur of sleep deprivation and physical recovery from the most exhausting experience of your life--delivery of a first baby. You can't imagine your tiny red bundle as a kindergartener, let alone a teenager and college student. You've woken up four times the night before in breastmilk-soaked sheets to a wailing baby you could have sworn you just fed. After you change an explosive diaper with your eyes half shut, hoping you've done an OK job, you settle down to the task of settling the hysterical baby down.
This cycle repeats itself for months on end. You are rewarded with smiles, laughs and a cute, chubby baby in pink clothes, but you still get no sleep. The days drag. It's amazing to watch your baby change and grow, but the hours can be long and monotonous, even though the months keep turning over on the calendar.
So you think the grocery store ladies are insane when they make such an insensitive comment. But then all the sudden, it seems, miraculouly the red, wailing bundle is a bright high school student, with an attitude, an awesome grade point average, a bucket full of swim trophys and a disastrous bedroom.
And the thought of her leaving your home is searingly painful.
It's time to start thinking that maybe this is the last time you can do this together as a family, so you'd better do it. You worry if you've taught her basic skills to survive--laundry, cooking, cleaning, fincances, etc. More importantly have you taught her all the things parents are supposed to teach--honesty, integrity, morality, faith, service and kindness? If you haven't, there's not much time, or it's already too late.
Because at nights now she's on her cell phone at 10:00 pm chatting to friends instead of me. What's she saying? What does she say to friends that she won't say to me? Are there things I should know that I haven't paid attention to? Or is everything OK, she's just enjoying yacking on the phone to friends, something I certainly understand.
So I begin a countdown to the next phase of life. My husband says it's wonderful to watch them move on to their new lives, but I disagree. At least right now. As bizarre as it sounds I want a few more nights where she can sit on my lap and rock to sleep, a few more messy art projects, a few more Christmas mornings when she got her beloved doll.
I just want a few more years added on to the two years.