Today my firstborn has “THE Talk” at school.
I’m not quite sure how we’ve reached this point already. It seems like just yesterday that my husband and I carefully pulled out of the hospital parking lot, each silently praying that together we’d figure this parenting thing out without doing much lasting physical or psychological harm to the itty-bitty thing sitting securely in the back seat. Martha was so tiny that we had to try to secure her wobbly little noggin upright in the car seat with several receiving blankets in order to get the “all clear” signal to be discharged. BLINK. She’s walking. BLINK. She’s bouncing onto the school bus without a single backwards glance. BLINK. She’s getting THE Talk.
They warned us, you know. From loving friends and family to well-meaning strangers in the checkout line at Target. “Enjoy it,” they said, “because it will go by faster than you can imagine.” I’ll admit it. There were times when I was so overcome with sleep deprivation, overwhelming frustration and a general lack of patience that I kind of wished the time away so that we could get to a calmer and more routine existence. Almost 11 years later, I realize that the day I find such routine with three children is probably the same day I’ll find a unicorn doing my laundry.
I find, instead, that I’m the mother of a girl doing her best to navigate the choppy waters of tweendom. A little girl no longer but not yet a young woman, she’s busy doing a complicated limbo. Some days I still see glimpses of the baby; after she’s had a particularly busy day, I might look in her bedroom and see her fast asleep with her arms thrown upward like she did as an infant. More often, though, I am seeing glimpses of the young woman she is becoming. Her legs are growing long and lean and her little, once-perfect-Chiclets-like teeth have given way to ones that will surely put an orthodontist’s child through college. Some days it’s just a certain look that passes over her face, but I know I am seeing a hint of the woman to come. I vacillate between wanting to yell, “Wait! Stop growing!” to cheering her as she successfully clears each challenging hurdle of growing up. “Time and tide wait for no man.” Or girl. And so rather than gnash my teeth over the “baby” I’ve lost or worry about the potentially scary days of teen parenting that await me, I think I’ll try to accept that all I can do is to just take a deep breath and be grateful for this brief intermission.