Tonight it’s official: I am the mother of a teenage daughter. 13 years ago tonight I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and boy did my life change – all for the better.
I can remember vividly the day I learned I was pregnant. No one was more surprised or excited than me. I came out of the bathroom and fell into a chair and told my husband I was pregnant. The exact words of the conversation, I couldn’t tell you. All I could think about was, sooner or later, this child that was growing inside of me, was going to have to come out. The fears of labor were real but soon relieved, or rather replaced by more present matters – like throwing up constantly for the next two and a half months. I lost nearly 30 pounds and wound up in the hospital hooked up to an IV bag for dehydration. Later I’d have to keep an eye on my blood sugar after developing gestational diabetes. Luckily, I could control it with diet and exercise alone. One good thing about the diabetes, I got to see her every week on ultrasound for the last ten weeks of the pregnancy. However, I kept thinking that these things weren’t in the pregnancy brochure. It seemed like I was having a much more difficult time getting this child into the world safely than other mothers. I’d have an even harder time with my son, nearly seven years later.
Luckily, once the morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night sickness was gone, I could enjoy planning for her arrival. Learning that I was having a girl was a little unnerving however. I had always been more comfortable with boys. I grew up with two older brothers and my best friend as a kid was a boy. I had always worked with men. Men and boys are easy to understand. The female sex on the other hand is more complicated. My greatest fear was that she’d go through the same things I did as a teenager – those horrible, awkward years of which no amount of therapy could ever repair. What if she wasn’t pretty enough? What if she had a weight problem? I couldn’t imagine how I was going to raise her. However, all my worries were erased the first time I saw her. I looked at her and she was perfect. Moments after her birth, her eyes were wide open, examining the room. It became very evident that she was in control. She had no worries. She was going to be okay, in spite of her imperfect, clueless parents. She is growing up to be exactly the same person she was ten minutes after her birth.
In grade school, she was the student the teachers left in charge of the classroom, when they stepped out. Teachers always sat the troubled kids next to her – they still do in junior high. She’s a straight A student and as competitive as they come. However, even with all the confidence and ability in the world, being a teenager is not easy business.
Yesterday she went to her junior high school dance. She and her friends worried excessively over their appearance, who would talk to them, and what boys would be caught dead with them. If it were up to her father, every boy caught with our daughter would be dead. I often find myself playing the mediator. There’s more than one pimple-faced boy in town who can thank me personally for saving his life. Of course, if any of those boys do more than admire her from afar, all diplomatic ties will be cut off. I have no intention of being a grandmother before my time nor before my daughter has earned her doctorate degree, is earning a six figure income and happily married.
In five years, she’ll be graduating high school and heading off to college. Five years. That’s a blink of the eye. Realizing that makes me want to fall back in my chair. One day soon, this child is going to be leaving me behind. Words can’t explain how that makes a mother feel.