during my first pregnancy i read everything on parenting i could get my hands on, from dobson's "the strong willed child" to dr. spock and then some. i used those 9 months to form my beliefs about parenting. my own childhood had been marked by two divorces, a schizophrenic parent, and, essentially, raising myself. summers were spent with a stepfather who many would consider harsh, even abusive. i didn't want to raise my kids with the inconsistencies of my mother and the rigidness of my stepfather. i knew i needed to find a more balanced view of parenting. so i read. i read a lot.
and one of the things i decided i agreed with was that a parent is supposed to work herself out of a job. we're to raise our kids in such a way that when they reach 18, they can walk out of the house and we don't have to worry about them taking care of themselves. they'll make mistakes, we all do (we are only human after all), but hopefully they'll have been raised to make good decisions despite bad circumstances. hopefully they'll have been raised to not only think of themselves, but of society as a whole. yes, i want my children to be individual thinkers, but i don't want them to be criminals - an issue we deal with everyday here in gang-bang land of the whores, drugs, and guns.
anyway, every year i've tried to give up a little more power to my oldest. it's tough to figure out where to let go of control, but it needs to be done. last year we tried giving up control of the school and homework thing and it failed miserably. this year we're trying again. 2 days down and so far so good. lol. and today she came to me to talk about her schooling, classes, and her future. dare i believe some of this has sunk in?
i remember when she was only 6 pounds and 19" long. i remember her toddling around in my shoes tossing kleenex around the house. i remember our first test of wills at 18 months. mom won and she stayed pretty easy to get along with for another 6 months. i remember her being confused that more than one person could have the same name when we had 5 steve's playing in our ad&d games. she's never been a really difficult child (i'm already having more trouble with the other 2 girls than i ever had with her). but i remember all these little things for a little girl. she's not so little any more.
she's growing up. i'm trying to grow up with her.
i am more relaxed about her bed time and giving her control over things like the clothes she wears and school. we still have restrictions over rides home, but that's a safety issue. all i'm down to is safety issues. she's making her own decisions about almost everything else while living at home so when she makes a mistake she has a safety net. she'll be responsible for her decisions, but not alone. and she's reaching for it like it's the ultimate prize. as she well should. she makes me proud, my girl, who is taking this all in stride much better than i am or did at her age. i can see her growing up to be everything i wanted and more.
growing up means new memories of her as a young woman. and growing her up so i'm out of a job is my responsibility. but letting go is a hard thing. i hope she knows, she'll always have a safety net with me. it's time to adjust this relationship so we're more friends than parent and daughter. but somewhere inside i'll always be the mother of a little girl who woke me up at 6 in the morning with a bright smile on her face and said, "mornin mama, i'm hungry." a friend asked me if something was wrong. no, this is very right, but that doesn't make it any easier.
yes, i'm letting go. but somewhere deep inside, i'll always be hanging on to my baby girl.