My oldest “baby” turned 18 today. Yikes!
I’m happy for her, because I know this day comes with much anticipation. After all, she’s now old enough to move out, go to a club, vote, buy a lottery ticket, buy tobacco, order porn, buy a handgun, get a tattoo, and get pierced without my permission.
Forgive me if I’m not quite so excited. After all, she’s now old enough to move out, go to a club, vote, buy a lottery ticket, buy tobacco, order porn, buy a handgun, get a tattoo, and get pierced without my permission. On top of all that, she can now be sued, tried as an adult, and can go on the Jerry Springer show to tell the world how her childhood sucked.
All kidding aside, I’m really not that worried. After all, she still needs me for college and preparing for dorm life that will take her about 45 minutes from home. She may be able to go clubbing, but drinking is still illegal. I’m pretty sure she has no desire for tobacco OR porn. I don’t THINK she has a tattoo on her mind, but I’ll bet that belly button piercing I’ve been avoiding will finally get checked off the to-do list soon. She does have plans to buy a lottery ticket though. And I hope she hits it big, remembering good ol’ sacrificing Mom and Dad when she does. I also feel sure she’ll exercise her right to vote. I know of nothing, however, that signals a potential lawsuit, and no crimes that cause me to worry about her being tried as an adult. So…
That just leaves the Jerry Springer thing.
To avoid being Springer-ized, and to get in my last hurrah in as a helicopter mother, I offer the following wisdom to my beautiful daughter as she enters adulthood:
Hard work pays off.
You just knew my day of delivery would be covered here, because it’s a mother’s duty to make sure her children know what she endured. One year ago today, I spent at least 24 hours in tremendous pain–back labor, to be specific. I endured 3 shift changes of nurses, until “Sarge” finally came in and got the ball rolling, so to speak. I was twisted like a pretzel, deprived of sleep, and ultimately ignored the next few weeks as I mended, while everyone ooh’ed and aah’ed over you…myself included. The on-call doctor was on my hit list at one point, but I did nominate “Epidural Guy” for the Nobel Peace Prize.
With nothing but a clock as my focal point, I pledged to make March 5th your birthday and came in just under the wire at 11:58 p.m.
Instead of coming home to baby-rocking, we came home with what looked like a tanning bed, because your liver wasn’t fully developed and you were jaundiced. We all took turns standing watch, to make sure those little velcro goggles stayed on your face so you wouldn’t go blind. At 2 days old, you ripped those goggles off your own face, as if to say “Enough”.
In addition to all that, you had a big lump on the side of your head which symbolized your determination to enter this world. A determination that would last for 24 long hours. (Did I mention that already?)
I can think of no better example of how hard work and determination pay off. On both your part and mine.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
That same lump would still be there at your 6-month check-up, and your dad was concerned. I was too, but to be honest, I barely noticed that big protrusion..
“Put a bow on it”, I said. And that I did, as you’ll notice from those infant pictures. Those velcro bows were THE fashion accessory of the year. At least for you, they were.
I never really saw the jaundice either. All I saw was a beautiful, somewhat tanned baby with rosebud lips. Perfection in my eyes.
But the truth is, there is no such thing as perfect. There is no perfect look, no perfect shape, no perfect nose. Beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder. We saw beauty then, and still do today. That will never change.
Education is power.
Never stop learning. The more you know in this world, the more opportunities there will be available to you.
Stick to your guns.
I really don’t have to tell you this one, because you were always my unpunishable child who refused to give in. From pushing the dishwasher buttons and getting your hand tapped at 2 years old, you stared me straight in the eye and switched to the other hand. Timeouts didn’t work, because when you were given permission to break away, you waived it, saying “I don’t think so. I like it here”. And taking away your cell phone was more punishing to me than that 24-hour labor, if I haven’t mentioned that already.
There was no book at the time that could help me with any of that, but I’ll consider it all worthwhile if this means you know that persistence has its rewards.
Remember where you came from.
You will never have friends like your old friends. Choose them wisely, and hang on to them. And don’t ever dump them for a date. Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
Likewise, consider your family home base. Your family knows you better than anyone and will always have your best interest at heart.
Don’t sell yourself short.
OK, so you didn’t inherit the height gene. And maybe you think you didn’t inherit the well-endowed gene either. And my apologies for the freckles—I hated mine too. I don’t hate them any more, because I’ve got bigger things to focus on, i.e. crow’s feet, muffin tops, and a bum knee.
In short, I have three pieces of advice here. Don’t spend too much in the sun unprotected. Wear that bikini as long as you can get away with it. And moderation is the key to everything. Oh yes, and too many hot dogs can pack on the pounds.
Remember our old saying? You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. That went for potty training, tying shoes, and pulling teeth and was your mantra growing up, always being something we said when you triumphed over what once seemed unthinkable.
After 13 years of soccer, you know all about goals and not letting anyone get in your way of achieving them. Whether in you’re on the A team or the B team in life doesn’t matter, but what you do when you’re there does.
You may stumble a few times along the way. Heck, you may even stumble AFTER a big score. But the important thing is that you get back up again, dust yourself off, and move to the next goal, without looking back. In the end, know that I’m always rooting for you on the sidelines…even if I’m not physically in those bleachers.
You know I could keep going, but I’m going to end this list here, because I plan on being around for quite some time to add to it as I see fit.
I will, however, use up a little bigger slice of bandwidth by looking back. Those who say it all goes by too fast are right. Sadly, a chapter is closing, and I see a blur of the following cherished moments:
- Binkies, eventually replaced by the thumb
- The big tornado that had us racing across town to “save” you
- Singing along to “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”
- At least 882 showings of The Lion King
- Self-cut bangs on Christmas Day that would still not be grown out by Easter (aka the “no-bang look”)
- Tomboy days and wardrobe battles
- Color changes
- Forging your dad’s name in printed form as just plain MIKE
- The poster that Aaron Carter autographed
- Skating parties and your permanent Speed Racer title
- The fear of the MGM Studio ride with the scary guy who held us all hostage
- The week-long search for Pluto at Disney World (and the stolen autograph book that had to be replaced in less than 24 hours)
- Halloween costumes, such as Simba, Pikachu, and Crocodile Hunter complete with hairy legs and an attacking snake (it’s okay–he was alive and well at the time)
- Tooth Fairy visits and pixie dust
- Cookies and Diet Coke for Santa AND his reindeer
- An Easter Bunny that DID exist no matter what your Dad said
- Soccer games and visits to the ER
- Baseball & Basketball, just to mix it up a bit
- Birthday shopping sprees and lunch at The Olive Garden
- Prom Dresses
- Hair highlights
I know there are still good times ahead. I know we still have Senior prom, graduation and moving her into that dorm room that’s a devastating 45 minutes away. I still have college soccer games and (I’m sure) the occasional shopping trip to the mall. And after all that, I imagine that I’ll be that nagging mother on Facebook saying “You never write, you never call, blah blah blah” until eventually she does follow through and block me. I must add that I well up a bit just typing that out, so to break the sentimentality, let me close with two final words. Words that no one else may understand, but my daughter will…
Happy 18th Birthday!
If you liked this post, you might like Yes, Generation, We Have A Gap.