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Feb 01

Always a new mom

You know the new mom?  The inexperienced one, the one who has that scared-I-don’t-really-what-the-hell-I’m-doing-here look on her face?  I’m that mom.  All the time.

Yes, I’m 43 years old, and I’ve been a big sister for 41 of those years.  I started babysitting at ten, and by the time I was sixteen, I was watching kids overnight by myself.  I had six nieces and nephews before I had my Jessie.  I knew how to do the basics – I had the diapers, the burping, the napping down pat.

But I still don’t know what I’m doing.  I still feel totally, totally unprepared for this.  Not with Sam and Julie.  Even when I have completely new experiences with them – like the accident, for example. I had no experience with a seriously injured child, no experience with hospital stays and how to get a kid to take tons of medicine.  But I was still an experienced mom to that child.  I knew my son.  I knew who he was and how to communicate with him.  I had been a mom to a nine year old before.

With Jessie – I’m always a new mom.  Always.  I never really know what I’m doing – I’m just feeling my way thru it.  I make mistakes all the time and I’m always a little shocked when the next milestone pops up.

She’s almost in high school.  High school.  Let’s take a minute and sit with that.

This baby girl – the one who made me a mom, the one who changed my whole world around, the one who I can still picture as a tiny little girl who fit in my arms like she was born to be there (because she was) – that tiny little thing is old enough to walk into high school.  Where she’ll be taking AP classes, and the expectation is that she can dual enroll in college.  She’s there.  She’s ready for it.

And I’m sitting there, in the dark auditorium, watching her 8th grade chorus performing with the high school one, and thinking to myself that I’m not ready for this.  I’m not prepared.  It was two seconds ago that I was sitting in a similar chair, watching her preschool graduation.  She was voted “Most Kind.”  That memory made me cry tonight. I watched her, standing up there, surrounded by a whole bunch of kids I didn’t recognize, and she was so grown up. I can’t… I struggle to figure out what I’m feeling and how I can process the fact that this little baby girl, the one who fit in my hands, is on the cusp of adulthood and I still feel just as baffled, as swept away and overwhelmed with love and pride and confusion and oh-my-God-I-hope-I-don’t-screw-this-up feeling as I did almost fourteen years ago.

Part of it is that she’s almost fourteen.  I’m less than a week away – and birthdays in general make me emotional.  I get weepy every February, July, and April.  I cry at every performance – every parent’s day observation at dance class, every time I watch a concert or a Model UN conference.  There’s something amazing to me, to see your child out  in the world that she’s created, with people I don’t know and doing things I didn’t teach her.

High school.  I’m not ready for this.  She is, but I’m not.

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