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Mother wallows over daughters' hitting milestones

In one of those random, cruel twists of fate, I have a girl turning 18 right around the same time I helped the oldest girl move back into her room at college.

That move-in took place over the weekend, and as I left the house to follow her 90 miles up the highway in my car, I realized I had a good three hours coming and was going to wallow in the emotions I had unknowingly kept at bay these past few months.

Fifteen years later, I can still remember that walk up the sidewalk to the door of the kindergarten class, her little hand in mine as she nervously went to face a roomful of strangers, many of whom would eventually become lifelong friends.

That walk pales in comparison to driving away with a carload of stuff that will surround her in her new life in another town, away from the safety and comfort of the home I have tried so hard to make for us.

I know, I know. It wasn't even the first time. This is her second year and everything is fine. It's just fine. You notice I used the word "wallow" back there. It's where I'm at.

Even more so because of this kid turning 18. That whole concept seems so wrong I can't even wrap my head around it.

I'm really not one of those moms who wishes time would stand still. Over they years I have embraced the changes, the passing of time as I have been given the privilege of watching my daughters grow up into lovely human beings, each her own person in her own right, completely apart from me. It is both difficult and a joy to let go and watch them spread their wings. I've seen them triumphant and I've seen them hurt, both of which have helped shape who and what they have become.

Both of which have made my heart ache.

But 18? Nope. Not ready.

In this town, turning 18 means they can buy cigarettes and go to the casino. Honestly, if it were only that simple, life would be a lot easier.

In the immediate future, for us her turning 18 means that in a few short months she'll say goodbye to her high school years, move out of the house and start learning more of what she needs to learn to make her own way in this world. In other words, she'll leave me.

I've had a lot of time to think about that. I have told myself that it'll be easier this second time around, that this kid will be fine and I don't have to worry about her. That I'll enjoy the solitude and the chance to do all those things I never could do because I had kids at home. That it'll be a nice change not worrying over who stole my phone charger, what happened to my eyeliner and where my black sweater is, which is usually in a wad on her bedroom floor.

No more of those times when I cook dinner, only to have her come home late from a dance saying someone brought chicken nuggets in, or that all of a sudden ever since she had the flu she doesn't like what used to be her favorite meal.

Yeah, those kids are a pain, all right. Luckily, they're my pain.

So today, this last day of her being 17, I might try to stop and reflect, and let time stand still, even just for a moment. Because tomorrow, everything changes.

Happy birthday, baby. Your Mama loves you.

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