I knew from a young age that I wanted to have a family. I knew that I wanted to be a mom. There was never a doubt in my mind that’s what I wanted. There were times I wondered if I would find a man to have a family with, but the idea of having a baby was always with me. And I wanted a daughter.
I was fortunate enough to get my wish, I had my baby girl. She was 9 pounds 2 oz and she was strong. The nurse commented on how strong her legs were for a newborn as she tried to put a diaper on her. My baby girl kicked away the nurse with her little legs as she wanted things her way. That is my baby. Her favorite line as a toddler was, ‘I do it by myself!’
This weekend she is moving in with her boyfriend in Seattle, and moving out of the house she shared with her girlfriends during college. She is all grown up with a college degree, a job and a serious relationship. My heart has been with her all weekend, as I want to be there to help her with this transition, as I have been for all of her transitions. And I guess I could be there, but at this point I fear I would create more stress as my Ex-husband, who lives closer, is helping her.
I am blessed that he is a great dad, and adores her. When she was little I used to love to watch them together, as he was always so patient and loving towards her. It warmed my heart to watch them together, as I did not have a loving father growing up, and I was so happy for her that she did have it. That one fact made me overlook a lot of other things that weren’t right about my marriage. I wanted her to have a good relationship with her dad, and I wanted to be there to witness it.
My daughter is smart and resourceful and will do a great job moving and setting up her new apartment. She really doesn’t need my help, but I still want to be there. It is the first place she has lived that I haven’t seen yet, just in photos. It is her first adult apartment, and she found it by herself. I am proud of her.
When she was born, the nurse took her away for a few minutes. For about 5 minutes I couldn’t see her. My heart leapt in panic, my whole body looked for her, it was a feeling I had never experienced before. I said to myself, as soon as I see her, I won’t be so panicked like this again. But that feeling never went away. I just learned to manage it. Her smell, her being, her spirit will always be a part of me, and a part of me will always miss her when she is not around me.
When she went off to kindergarten, she was fine. I was not. I used to go to the gym and run on the treadmill to relieve my anxiety of her being away from me. I was so scared something was going to happen to her, I went to a counselor for help. I knew it was my problem, not hers. I didn’t want to be the neurotic mother that hovered over her child, or at least show her that side of me.
I did my best to let her independent nature flourish, and show her guidance when appropriate. I know I made mistakes. I know sometimes I appeared cold because I was trying not to completely fall apart and hold on to her too tightly. I did the best I could to love her but not smother her.
When I had my baby girl all those years ago, I put all my energy into her. She was my light and my life, and she still is, but I know that I have to let go and let her spread her wings. I will always be her mom, but now I can take a back seat and let her make her own choices, and live her own life. I can be waiting in the wings to help and support, and listen.
I never predicted that I would be divorced and that my Ex-husband and I wouldn’t be at her wedding together, or be there when she has her own family. That is not what I wanted. I wanted a family. But people change, and as my daughter grew into her own person, and became an adult I started to look at my own life and decide what I wanted for myself. I love being her mom, and I will always be her mom, but she didn’t need me to organize her day, plan birthday parties and play dates, and talk to her until midnight about her girlfriend drama. She had a boyfriend now, and really good friends that helped her with these things. And I am happy for her that she had that, it is as it should be. But, I had a bunch a free time, what did I want to do now?
I turned my maternal energy into creative energy and starting writing and painting. I did it for myself, to fill the void I felt as my daughter moved away from me. I didn’t know it would lead to my divorce. But as I followed my creative journey, and let my daughter follow her own, the void I felt started to go away. I felt like I could be a better friend to my daughter because I wasn’t so reliant on her to fill me up. Our relationship changed, and of course she was sad when our family broke up, but she seemed to understand that it was the best thing for everyone.
This weekend I have gone through quite a lot of emotions, but the one that stands out is that I am grateful. I am glad that I got to experience having a baby, and having a family. That is what I wanted more than anything, and I got it. Some people never get to experience that. And I will forever be grateful that my daughter has a father that loves her. My father was distant and uninterested in my life, and I know how hurtful that can be. I am glad my daughter does not have to experience that pain. My marriage may have ended, but the love we both have for our daughter will always be there. And I am grateful for that love.