Sunday, August 10, 2014

Now that you mention it...

Today we moved our 20-year-old daughter into a new dorm room. This is the fourth move since she left for college two years ago. She's never come back for any extended period of time since that first move, and she'll probably never live with us again. I still cry every time I have to say good bye to her, which this year has included goodbyes to Brazil and Taiwan in addition to Pittsburgh. You'd think I'd be getting used to it. Me too. I'm not.

On a detour through a familiar neighborhood on our way out of town, we got to visit briefly with two of the most darling women ever to grace the universe. As the lovely mom and I commiserated the whole kids growing up business, she pointed to my 7-year-old and said, "You're so lucky to have this little one." I know. Thank you. Right? Wow.

I've thought a lot of stuff since getting pregnant unexpectedly 8 1/2 years ago such as: There goes grad school. There goes my body. I'm too old for this. My poor boobs. This baby is gonna kill me. My big kids hate me. How can I be a good mom to all of them? But I never really thought until Chloe went to college that I was really lucky to get this little bonus baby.

From the time she was born, my oldest daughter has been my constant companion, soul mate and best friend. She filled a Chloe-shaped space in my heart, and I felt as if I was made to be her mom. When Peyton joined, answering my prayers and completing our perfectly symmetrical little family, I felt lucky. I have never been so in love with two people. So six years later, when it became apparent that our family wasn't quite complete, I felt different levels of resistant, afraid, angry, and resentful ... but I didn't feel lucky.

However, in her nearly 8 years, this little chick has challenged me in ways I can't even begin to explain. She has taught me more about myself than the library of self-help books I've read. She can be jarringly direct and achingly compassionate. She strolled out of my womb and wrapped her dad right around her tiny finger. She carries his heart around in a Hello Kitty purse. It's impressive, really, because he is not that guy.

She can be bossy and whiny and smart-mouthed. And she can be cuddly and dreamy and precious. She's a little bit like my clone, and I'm a better person for getting to watch and learn from a mini version of myself. She's growing into a pretty cool person, and it's interesting to watch her free from the pressure of signing her up for every sport and making sure she's involved in a million activities.

I'm grateful for another round of prom dresses. I'm grateful for more shoe shopping and hair appointments and manicures and pedicures and even more stupid Ugg boots. I'm lucky to have more opportunities to say the right thing to ease the pain of a broken heart and remind her that other people's opinions of her are meaningless. I'm lucky that I can remind her that pain builds strength and character. I'm lucky that she has the most amazing role models in her sister and brother. I'm lucky that I get another opportunity to raise a strong, empowered woman who will make a difference in the world.

So thank you for the reminder, my friend. I am so lucky.