Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When Little Girls Grow Up

I've spent the past month getting ready for the RWA National Conference.... wait.... stop... Nope. Wish I could say I have been diligently planning for this very important trip. After all, I've got an editor and an agent to pitch, workshops to attend, people to meet, and celebrating to anticipate.

However, I've been distracted by a very important thing: my teenager! She's graduating in a year. This means touring colleges, narrowing down pros and cons of attending the colleges she's most interested in, and discussing various majors/minors of study whilst realizing that old dreams must be set aside to make room for new dreams and a new journey.

My daughter is at the cusp of her adult life. She's getting ready to explore her future, her world, her life as a citizen of the world. We've had her with us for almost 17 years (18 if you count the 9 month pregnancy) and now a very important part of my world is changing, morphing into a new direction. And right now, as we go through this transition, I want to be available to my daughter. I also want to be with my daughter. I know this next year will fly all too fast. After all, the past 16 have been a mere blink in my eye.

Here's a brief overview:

*from infertile to carrying a precious child
*her sweet, bubbly personality shining through from day one
*her first steps in a onesie after tearing through a pile of newspapers
*my best friend from Holland and I folding clothes in the kitchen while dreaming about who our daughters will be in 15 years. Those years have flown.
*singing Disney tunes, playing with dolls, stuffed animals, puppet shows, dancing, singing, laughing
*bumps, scary hospital visits, bones needing mending, emotions bursting
*school, Kindergarten, friends, world expanding, traveling, seeing much, doing more
*tall, gorgeous, self-driven, long legged and somewhat klutzy despite her years of dance teenager
*smart, funny, giving, empathetic, gifted, goofy, lovable human being

Why? Why do we have to raise our children to let them leave us? I just want to enjoy her. So yes, I haven't been a 100% focused on my "desperately seeking publication" goals. I admit it freely. I've written. I've written a lot. For it is in writing that I find solace, an escape from the reality I must accept as a mom.

And I've been shopping. Bought lots of clothes. With my teen at my side helping me squeeze into dresses for the gala events. I've been building more memories, making more time for laughter with my girl amidst preparing for my travels. Sure, I've stolen moments to work out my schedule for the conference, my pitches are "done" enough, and I'm excited about meeting all my friends in NYC. The conference will be great.

But underlying all my little plans for my world, there is a band pulling around my heart and squeezing ever so tight as I anticipate the very real and necessary goodbye I will face in a year. Sending my daughter into the world will be the greatest, most difficult thing I have ever done.

However, the pain of letting her go is lessened by the joy of seeing her soar. And in learning how to send my very real baby into the world, I have gained the added lesson of having the strength to send my fictional babies out into the world, too.

And I hope that my example of perseverance and diligence will be the flame that my daughter carries into her adult life.


Lindy Chaffin Start said...

Christine, we think alike. Red is only three and a half, but I too hope to be the flame that inspires her torch to write, I mean light. My legacy to her, aside from my own published work someday, is a stack of books written and autographed by my GRW and RWA friends. Now, hopefully she won't end up an accountant. :-) -Lindy

Christine said...

Red sounds adorable. And yes, I hope my legacy to my teen will be a life lived to the fullest with great companions along the way. Companions like the PFHT, and all my writing friends. People who inspire, who encourage, who believe right there with her that she can attain her desires with hard work and perseverance.


KarenG said...

This post was so sweet. The relationship between you and your daughter just shines through. You are lucky to have each other.

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

I wish I could tell you this changes with time, but...not really. I have to remind myself daily that my oldest is nearly 30 and the reason he doesn't call every day or even several times a week is because HELLO! He's a grown man with a job and a life. Same with my daughter who's only 17 months younger than him. Time flies, but one day you'll have gray hair and she'll have kids of her own and you'll STILL think of her as your little girl.

Christine said...

Hi Karen: Thanks so much for your comment. We really do have a great relationship. It'll be hard to let her "go."

But that's what we have to do.

Christine said...

Hi Carol: That is so true! It's hard to believe we are reaching the end of a grand, wonderful passage and entering a new phase. My BF in Holland's dad said to enjoy these busy, crazy years because they were the best years of his life. He's a great man, and I love that sentiment. Sure, we'll have fun without her in the house, but man it will be strange to have her leave.

Of course, when the time is right, I will definitely love being a grandma (a LONG TIME from now LOL)


Katherine Bone said...

Christine, what a lovely ode to your darling daughter and motherhood!

This brings back so many memories. After sending four children off into the world, I can tell you, like Carol did earlier, it never gets easier. My oldest is in Crete, on a trip that was only suppose to last 2 months. We still don't know when he'll be coming home.

We just had a family vacation at the beach, without half of our family. Both of our sons couldn't join us because of military commitments, which meant our DIL and grandsons couldn't join us either. Or our daughter's fiancee, who is serving in Afghanistan. That really broke my heart, but I've grown to realize we may never have everyone home at once from now on. They all have their own lives to live. And if they are living their lives to the fullest, my hubby and I have done our jobs well.

Enjoy each day. Soak in the joy of being a Mom, of being available when called upon, of basking in your child's accomplishments and laughing at their guffaws. Love is a wonderful thing and a mother's love is timeless. ;)

Much love!

Christine said...

Hi Kathy: Welcome home from the beach! I hope that you had time to relax before Nationals. I know what you mean about missing them for things like family vacations. I can't imagine not having Mallory along for the fun! My prayers go out to you and your family as your sons and SIL continue to serve our nation to ensure our safety and freedom.

Many hugs!


Linsey Lanier said...

What a touching tribute to your daughter, Christine. I'm sure your of perseverance and diligence are an inspiration to her. Sounds to me like you are a terrific mother. I bet she's just as proud of you as you are of her. Have fun in NYC.

Christine said...

Thanks Linsey. She's a sweetie with just enough spice to make it interesting ;-) I'm looking forward to Nationals. But first we're heading to DC and I'm super looking forward to seeing all our friends in the VA area.

Emily S said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful daughter. I've missed getting to watch her grow these last 12 years. She reminds me so much of Nancy with her kindness, intelligence and strength. Enjoy this last year. Yes, your relationship will change, but with it comes growth for both of you. I was amazed to realize recently that there is no longer a constant "mommy" hum in my brain; that underlying readiness to spring into action at a moments notice, the endless planning and self-reminders of what needs to be done for my family. It's a little like when the power goes out and you are intensely aware of the quiet. A little disconcerting at first, but I know it means that I've done my job well. So now my friend, you have planted an amazing garden - sit back and watch it flourish! Hugs

Anonymous said...


It is hard to let them go. I've done it twice already. I still have one more to go, but I have one that will never leave home, near attend college, near marry, near have friends. Celebrate the excitment of life openning up for you daughter. You'll be better for it and she will too.

Susan Carlisle

Pamela Mason said...

I just went through this year of tears and fire with my son, and I'll have one more year before I go through it again with another son.
It was much harder on me than on anyone else in the family. We did the college campus tours> he decided to stay home for a year. We offered to him a b'day/graduation bash > he asked for an expensive phone & computer gift instead. I cried more than a few times a week thinking I was losing him to his future, but he's stayed on, working, going to summer school, living in the basement, and starting up his own writing career.
But with all of that, I guarded my time with him. I passed up things in order to see him at his last meets,& I kept my eyes open so as to never blink & possibly miss anything again.
And that's my unsolicited advice to you:
DON'T BLINK!! Not ever, ever again! This year won't come back.
And please save me some tissue....

Christine said...

Hi Emily: I still can't believe your littlest is married and contemplating a family. She's such a sweetie. As is number one son! You've done a fabulous job and it shows in the love they have for you, too. I am blessed to have you as a friend who will lead the way with sage bits of advice for me when it happens for real.


Christine said...

Hi Susan: thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me. It is a fabulous thing to look forward to--one that so many of don't understand is a blessing because it means they are able to go. This is a very valuable reminder to me of how we can take that gift for granted.

Many hugs!


Christine said...

Oh Pamela thanks so much for the "don't blink" advice!! I love that picture. It is exactly how I feel. I want to make every moment count this year as she heads into her Senior year.

Tissue sales will go up when I finally say my goodbyes, but they will be happy and hopeful tears!


Ami said...

I'm awful late here, but this post brought tears to my eyes. I'm going thru something like this with my oldest--he's only 15, but things are changing so rapidly (driving! Ack!) I feel completely out of control. Which, of course, I am--all I can do is be present and enjoy the moment.

What I do love are the glimpses of the man he'll become. There have been times we weren't sure he'd get there, LOL, but every now and then, I see it. Something to look forward to. :) Oh, and I get to do it all agian--three more times. (youngest is 5)

Christine said...

Hi Amy: I know your pain. I'm proud of her and I'm glad she's doing well, but it will be very hard to say goodbye next year. Course, I know she'll be back come break time from school.

With laundry. :-)