I can't believe it, September 2008 is almost over. What that means for me is, in 6 days my oldest child will turn 14. To some, that may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is HUGE. She is growing faster than I am ready for. She comes home from school, talking about her day and it seems to me that just yesterday I was talking about those same things - which boy I liked, hanging out with my friends at lunchtime. Could it be that 23 years have passed since I was a freshman like her? Could it be that it was so long ago that I was laughing with my friends, thinking like I'm sure she does, that my mom could not possibly know what it was like to be in my shoes, a teenage girl? Most days, even when I'm not having a great day, I still feel like a youngster myself. OK, maybe not a youngster. But definitely a young adult. I still dance and laugh and run and play. To me it is impossible to believe that I am the mother of an almost-14 year old child.
Wait, she isn't really a child. I mean, she can't vote, she can't drive, she can't buy a car. But, she is so grown, so mature, so strong. She is so beautiful, so smiley, even in the midst of her first major breakup. She has a laugh that makes you laugh with her. As hard as you try, you can't avoid it. It's infectious! She is tall and lean and so grown. I can't believe that 14 years ago she wasn't here with me - instead, it is as if she has been with me all my life. Sort of like she's always been in my heart, waiting for the right time to join us in the living world.
They say that when you have a child, it is like having your heart walking around outside your body. I always thought that was a strange statement, until Alissa became a teenager. She does so much more without me these days, and although I am happy for her and I'm glad she has many friends, part of me longs for the days when she would sit on my lap and rest her head on my shoulder. Sometimes I secretly wish she would sit with me and just be there, the two of us, like the old days. (When she does, however, it is very funny. She sits on my lap, this child that is as tall as me, and hugs me tight.) It is funny and sentimental and wonderful, and we laugh for all those reasons. She doesn't realize what those moments give me - a small piece of "what used to be", when she was small - a reminder that no matter how she grows or where she lives, we will always be mother and daughter.
I am scared for the day, not too long from now, when I will watch her pack her things and go out into the world. I worry for the day when I will take her to college, help her unpack, and then have to leave her there. It is so hard for me to imagine that someday soon, she will be on her own and not need me everyday anymore. I know what you're thinking, "She's your child. She will always need you." But it won't be the same.
My beautiful Alissa, I love you so much. I hope that when you are on your own and not under my roof, that you will still need me and want me around. I pray that we will always be close, and always have this special relationship. I know you don't understand it now, how I feel and how scared I am for you to grow. Not because you aren't ready, but because I'm not ready.
Until then, even on the days when we aren't getting along, I will cherish every moment with you. I will remember these days so that we can talk about them later. "Mom, remember when...?" Those are some of my favorite times with my own mom, and I vow to keep our memories safe and secure. You (and your sisters) mean everything to me. I am blessed and proud to be a part of your life. As "our" song says, "these are the sweetest days we'll know."
I love you!