Today morning, I was waking up my 15 year old daughter … and there was this look on her face, which I haven’t seen for so many years, of a babyhood. And suddenly I realised that my baby had gone. Never to be seen again. And in a flash I experienced the whole of her growing up …. the countless times I have tied her shoelaces, the many times I have combed her hair or held her hand while crossing the road … the many evenings I have sat with her for her lessons … or held her in the dark. And suddenly I ‘saw’ a whole new person … and it was a small shock … because the face which I knew of my little baby had morphed into that of a young lady, almost a stranger. When had this happened ??? How come I hadn’t noticed it before ??? Or had I noticed but not really acknowledged ?
I find myself struggling with changing realities and priorities in her life … suddenly she is never at home … her friends being all so important. Suddenly she seems so capable of making up her own mind without help, and also correct me if necessary. And I find myself struggling to not tighten my hold and to keep my grip loose so that she does not feel strangled or smothered. I find myself at once proud of the things she does and also afraid in a way.
I can see the hurts that are coming her way, and feel powerless to stop them or shield her. And to know that life will have its own lessons for her and this time round, I cannot sit in the evenings with her and go through them with her. That now when she has difficulties she is more likely to talk about them to her friends than me. That now onwards she will have to be on her own and all I can do is stand and wait on the sidelines and be there if she needs me.
My parenting seems to have taken a long time, many a times, a struggle – but her childhood seems to have taken a fleeting time that has flashed past me, never to come back, never to be experienced again. And somehow it seems rather inane to say that one must enjoy the moment.
Nobody told me how difficult children’s growing up would be. There are so many countless articles in handling teenagers but not much about what the heart of a parent goes through.
… but i am learning the hard lesson of letting go.