A Parenting Story: How 18 Years Flew By


This weekend we will be celebrating the one who made me a mom, my first born, my sweetest girl. I have really struggled in this last year as a parent of a not-a-child-not-yet-adult. She turns 18 Sunday and while I know she does still needs me, she needs me in very different ways. I never really thought about this season of parenthood until I found myself knee-deep in it. She has her own thoughts on big things like abortion and gay rights, things she researches and draws conclusions on for herself. She has big plans for her future to become a history and theater teacher. She thinks snakes are cute and saves spiders by putting them outside instead of squishing them.

I love the woman she has become but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the little girl she was.

There was a time when it was just me and her. We set out to conquer the world, or at least it felt that way to me. If I asked her, I think she would agree with me. We lost her daddy to cancer when she was just three and a half-years-old. I was a mere shell of myself for about a year, but we had tons of family and friends supporting us during that time, and we still do. Then as I slowly started to heal and return to myself, we started making memories: taking trips to Disney and the beach, going to the ballet and musicals, taking bike rides with her in the tag-a-long, selling our house and buying a condo just for us. Eventually our family grew as I married and had more children, and she even tried to play matchmaker for us! But our bond was always unique. Maybe it is a first child bond, and maybe you don’t have to suffer loss to have what we have, but I only know my own experience and I think that our shared loss is what makes our mother-daughter relationship what it is.

One of the hardest things I have ever done as a mother was explaining death to her.

That talk made the birds and the bees talk seem easy, although that one was pretty rough, too! I remember how she cried out for her daddy in the weeks after he passed away. Sometimes it was more than my heart could bear, but somehow I did. Together we helped each other navigate the grief and learn to live with it and without him.

As loss and death are a part of life, there were more times when she was little in which we would again work through our grief over the loss of others. I was so worried that all that loss was going to change who she was supposed to be. And maybe it did, but it made her better. She has an amazing ability to bounce back from disappointment. She doesn’t sit and stew or grow bitter over things like I think I did when I was her age.

She was always an easy child, and I probably should have loosened my limits earlier on some things than I did. I am ashamed to say that I had a tendency to mother through fear and worry, and let those feelings be my guide more often than not. I could probably write an entire post just about the guilt and anxiety that comes with mothering — can I get an amen? But for all my mistakes and bad choices, she turned out to be a strong, kind, funny, talented, and lovely woman. Someone I have fun with, someone I love to be with and experience things with, and I know others feel the same way about her because I can see it when she is with her friends.

Finding how to mother an adult is my least favorite thing as a mother, but I am committed to finding my place in her grown-up life.

The very things I want her to be — self-sufficient, independent, and strong willed — are the same things I have struggled with the past year or two. She is very respectful and easy going, but she does buck up against me if she doesn’t agree with me. I have to find a way to accept her decisions even if they aren’t the decisions I want her to make. It is her life, after all, and I am just her biggest fan.

We have always been close, but I have noticed as she has gone through this last season of adolescence that she relies more on her friends than on her mom. The truth is that she needs to depend less on me now and more on herself, which she has done beautifully. The other day she went thrift shopping and found her dress for the winter formal coming up. I didn’t even know she was shopping, but later that night, she came into my room where I was reading, with the dress on and asked my opinion. She was gushing over the pretty lace, amazing fit, and the great deal she got. In that moment her entire life flashed before me and I instantly was so proud and so choked up that my baby isn’t a baby or even a little girl anymore; she is a woman.

I am going to allow myself a few more tears over the next few months as we navigate senior prom, her last high school play, graduation, and college decisions. But then I am going to just adjust and accept my new position in her life and be proud of all she has accomplished and all she will accomplish.

18 years has absolutely flown by and it is true what they say: “The days are long but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin


  1. “A Parenting Story :How 18 Years Flew By” was a beautiful thing to read ! You are a wonderful mother…… and a precious niece.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here