Over the weekend, it hit me that my baby girl is a child. Not just my child, not just my kid, but, like, A CHILD. I can't pin down exactly when this revelation came to me, but it was sometime during the few hours we were at a local racecar derby. She wanted to feed herself and she didn't want to be carried, oh no. She wanted to walk ON HER OWN, dang it! Though, she still tightly held my hand when the ground got bumpy or when she needed to step off a curb. Somewhere, in all the Instagram-worthy moments, I realized that I'm a parent for real and she's a human pre-pre-pre-pre-adult for real.
There's no moment where the gig is over, applause applause, curtains close. No, "That's a wrap! Great work, everyone!" There is no graduation from being the parent of a baby; no ceremony that marks the beginning of being a real adult parent with real adult parent responsibilities and a child that has dreams to follow and problems to solve. Dreams that I have to encourage and facilitate; problems that I have to help solve! What did I get myself into?!
It seems obvious: baby in belly, baby born, then you're a parent. Boom. Easy peasy. But really, there's about a thousand subcategories and one of them is OH YEAH BY THE WAY YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LIFE AND CARE OF REAL PEOPLE NOW. The next time I don't have children living in my home, I'll be a middle-aged empty-nester who let her little birdies fly off on their own. (If my kids are anything like me, I'll still be solving their problems for many years after that, but that thought makes me happy. My babies will always need me, right? Even a little?)
See, this is the mothering dilemma. I want my kids to need me, but I'm terrified that they need me because whoahohoho, I am not qualified for this job. My daughter is learning to talk and explore and express herself. She watches me laugh and laughs with me. She watches me cry and climbs in my lap. She already looks to me to lead her through the world and someday she'll ask me a thousand questions I can't answer, and, by some miracle, she won't even think I'm stupid for it. And along the way, she'll teach me a whole bunch of crap that will change my life and make me proud and make me question if she can really be mine.
I didn't anticipate the many "aha" moments I'd have as a mom, especially this early on in the game. Let's face it though, I was bound to realize I'm a parent of a child eventually. I see other parents and become instantly aware of the fact that they have children. My baby though? Total blindness until now.
I still haven't decided if I'm better off. I was kinda hoping to have many years of blissful ignorance and just suddenly wake up with teenagers. But, this way is good too.