Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm "That Woman" Now

I’m “that woman” now.  You know, the one who sees a baby in a stroller and looks at the person pushing it—be it mother, father, or babysitter—and say, a stricken look on her face, “Enjoy it now!  It goes so fast!”

I feel sure that I’ve written about this before but now it’s a reality.

I’m old enough to have a daughter graduating from high school.

It was just yesterday that I cried myself from one end of the country to the other when I had to go on a business trip and leave her home, six-months old, toothless and adorable.  Or when I agonized over quitting my in-house day job to stay home with her, only to have her tell me “I wish I got to go to Tiny Tots” (the day care center around the corner from our house—trust me:  that didn’t go over well). Or when we celebrated her “graduation” from elementary school to the middle school, the middle school to the high school.  It was all just yesterday. Wasn’t it?

This week, we have the senior prom (or “Prom” as it is called now, no article), her graduation party (60 hungry family and friends).  Next week is the big day:  graduation.  Soon after, college orientation, shopping for supplies and then the biggest day of all:  move-in day.  It’s about more than I can fathom because I’m still thirty, she’s still a baby, and her brother doesn’t even exist yet.

I feel rather foolish talking like this because I used to be the woman who laughed at people who told me to be present and to savor every moment that was my daughter’s childhood.  I was present, even though it’s hard to be in every moment when many of those moments include only discipline, teaching good manners, listening to the same song sung over and over again in the back seat of the car, saying “because I said so” ten times a day.  As someone else once wisely said to me, “the days are long but the years fly by.”  Boy, do they.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited for her.  We live in a little village and she’s seen the same one hundred faces every single day since kindergarten.  It’s time for a change.  It’s time for her to move on and to experience a new city, new friends, new challenges, new joys, and new heartbreaks.  It’s time for her to establish who she is outside of this family and this village and to explore the world on her terms.  She is definitely ready for everything this next chapter brings.  I guess I’ll have to be ready, too.

Fellow Stiletto babe, northern-half Evelyn David, and I often joke that’s it not all about us.  (Alternately, I joke with my mother that everything is my fault.  She heartily concurs.  Mothers, apparently, are the eternal scapegoats for all of life’s inconveniences.  Glad I learned that early on.)  Intellectually, we understand that and suppress a lot of what we know and what we feel in favor of letting our children grow up and move on.  I wish I were in a different place, emotionally, but I’m not and I’ll only apologize if I can’t stop crying during the Pledge of Allegiance during graduation or I make a complete fool of myself (moreso than usual). 

So, Stiletto friends, how do you cope when something sneaks up on you, something that has been right ahead of you for a long time?  What are your coping strategies for dealing with the monumental rites of passage?

Maggie Barbieri


  1. I feel you, Maggie! This week ends 5th grade for my daughter. While not graduating from high school and heading off for college, my daughter is graduating from being a little girl to being a tween.

    We're talking about clothes, glasses versus contacts, boys, junior high electives (junior high is still one a year off but she wants to talk now), and sex.

    We're standing at the edge of a different cliff than you and your daughter but still a cliff. She is ready to jump off and I am ... not.

  2. Maggie, I'm right there with you, blinking off the tears more than I could have ever imagined.

    I have no regrets about the time I spent with my girls but I sure do wish I could press replay and do it one more time...

  3. Amy, I am right there with you. I am stunned by how I feel right now.

    Laura, I know how you feel. You're still a year off. Enjoy every minute and every school visit. They are a lot of fun. Maggie

  4. My boys were grown and gone before I knew it. Then something wonderful happened. I got another chance. Believe me, I'm enjoying every moment with my grandkids. They're growing too fast, too, but I'm not wasting any of it this time around.

  5. Maggie, I feel for you. When my daughter and son hit teens a year apart, I missed the weepy nostalgia because I had another new baby. When they both graduated and left home, I still had a little one, so there were only a few tears and "how did that happen?" But the baby was just starting school. The younger kids give you a little cushion, I think. Youngest jumped into college at 16, and I was kind of in shock, but he still lived at home and I worked at the college, so not a huge change. Then, he left for a year's study in England on an exchange program. I turned into Lot's wife right then. Even my husband burst into tears when we went into a children's bookstore to buy a present, and he saw little ones playing on the big carved animals. "It seems like yesterday that our little bunny was over there," he wailed. Our little bunny is now Dr. Bunny. :-)

  6. As you all know I have lots of grandkids and great grands. I even raised two of my grandkids. One, a boy, has his own son now. The other a girl, has moved to North Carolina and is expecting her first--a girl. My oldest great is now graduated from high school and taking course to be a preacher. My youngest grand has also graduated from high school, is working and going to college too.

  7. LD, I guess I have to look forward to the grandkids, though not quite yet! :-)

    Linda, I still have a "little one" (he's 13) and he's still young enough so that he's very affectionate with me. When that ends, though, batten down the hatches. And Dr. Bunny? He'll always be your little bunny.

    Marilyn, I look to you for guidance and wisdom and you never helps me that you've been through this so many times and yet have kept your perspective and sense of humor.

    But everyone, thank you for letting me know that I'm not crazy. (Or just not writing it.) Maggie

  8. Oh, and by the way, I took my daughter to lunch and cried in my Cobb salad for the better part of the meal.

  9. I remember when my older daughter joined her younger sister for Spring Break just as I was leaving. They took me to the airport, and I walked across the tarmac, wondering what I was going to do now. Some tears and sadness later, I realized I had to live the other life I had built. Which was nice. But I'll never forget that moment when my daughters let me know they were into their own lives now, without me. Which I had raised them for. (Sniff).

  10. Gosh, Lil, now I'm crying! "...I had to live the other life I had built." That is beautiful and sums it up completely. Maggie