Last week's milestone was becoming the mother of an adult child. I was unprepared for the emotion I felt as the big day hit: excited and SO, SO proud, yet the reality of the ever-shortening time together sinking in.
I remember being so amazed at the miracle of creation when she was born. I had played a role in creating, protecting, nourishing, and bringing this beautiful little person into the world. It was the most amazing thing I had ever done.
But the creative process does not end at birth! I have realized that creation continues to take place in slow motion, over a span of years, and it looks something like this:
That beautiful baby girl grows and starts to develop opinions of her own. You think you will never sleep a night soundly, take a shower alone, or get out of the house on time ever again.
Then one day you realize that when she says "I do it myself!"... that she really CAN do it herself.
Most of the time...
Then she starts school, and you wonder just a little. Is she ready? Will she be happy there? Will they love her? How badly will I miss her? Then you see her happy little face and breathe a sigh of relief that everything is going to be ok.
With experiences of her own, she develops quite the sense of humor. She makes you laugh everyday, and you marvel at how her thoughts and opinions are all her own. Then you marvel at how much she reminds you of yourself... and her daddy.
Those siblings she used to squabble over toys with? They become her best friends.
Then you realize that other people notice all of the things that you love about that precious girl as well. Her friends become regulars at your house.
... and then she starts dating. Suddenly Dad and the brothers start paying a little closer attention to who's coming around and how often. Little brother starts keeping a list on his cell phone of all of the boys that asked her to dance at the recent church dance and regularly gives her his "approved" list of young men.
Then you realize that all of that time spent at the ball park, or singing together at bedtime, or in piano and violin lessons has really accomplished something. You realize that she's become really, really good at those things she enjoys.
Then you start hearing plans, and realize that her little childhood friends will soon become her college roommates.
She's going to be hurt sometimes, and sad other times. And some people are going to be mean to her, and you're going to want to take them apart. But you don't, because you realize that by struggling a little, she's growing and learning, and becoming something wonderful.
And then you realize she's READY. You've been there all along, and you see how every little experience has shaped her into an amazing woman. Her beliefs are solid and her own. She is strong yet kind, focused yet funny, smart and silly.
And suddenly, you realize that although she is still your daughter, she feels more like a best friend.