I somehow never envisioned this day.
Well, I did, but far off in some misty, distant future, nebulous and untouchable in the land of Someday. Because in my mind's eye, last week, my daughter was two and lurching around the living room with a very large dog and three attendant cats, chocolate smeared around her mouth from the chocolate chip cookie she was hanging onto with fierce determination as she headed for her goal; the front door.
Three days ago, she was pushing her baby brother in a giant Tonka truck across the kitchen floor while he squealed with glee, making "Vroom! Vroom!" noises while the Triplicats scattered out of the way.
Two days ago, she was waving impatiently at me to leave as I hovered outside her first grade classroom, her brother in a backpack on my back, hoping she was going to be okay, and that she would make friends.
Yesterday, she was playing in her first soccer game, stunning us both as she displayed a determination and ferocity that has gotten her through every hurdle that has been placed in her way. I still remember having to hold onto the Husbandly One when a kid who seemed like a veritable giant loomed over her and looked like he was going to plonk a massive fist on top of her head and crush her as he stole the ball from her. She looked up at him, sniffed derisively, then plowed him over as she took the ball back, and passed it to one of the forwards, who immediately took it and made a goal. She then turned to face the boy and flounced past him to show how beneath her contempt he was and ignored him for the rest of the game.
It was very demoralizing for him.
Last night, I hugged my seventeen year old daughter for the last time, and this morning, I hugged my eighteen year old daughter for the first time.
The night the Impertinent Daughter was born was one of the most... ridiculous and yet wonderful nights of my life. My water broke three fourths of the way through an episode of the X-Files, an episode I still to this day have never seen through to the end, and then we were rushing to the hospital, feeling woefully unprepared. I mean, we decided on her name on the way to the hospital!! Seriously!!
I had a C-section, because she was a breech baby, and I remember when I heard that first cry thinking, "Oh, my God... what have I done? What have I done?? I can't be a mother!! I'm too immature!! I'm not stable enough! I'm gonna fuck her up, and she'll be lying on a couch by the time she's 25, spilling her guts to a therapist about her whacko mom and how she totally fucked her up and... and... I CAN'T DO THIS!!"
Meanwhile, they were cleaning her up, and the Husbandly One was looking at her and cutting the cord and all that, and then they laid her in my arms, wrapped up like a little burrito. I looked into her tired little scrunched up face, her centuries old eyes looking up into mine, and felt my breath catch. She wriggled a tiny hand free of the burrito wrap, then reached up to touch my face, stroking my chin, and suddenly, I was calm.
I could do this.
We could do this. We would grow and learn together, and we could totally do this.
And now, here we are, eighteen years later. She's got a driver's license. She'll be graduating from high school in a few weeks. And there's a part of me that's screaming, "No, no, I can't do this! I can't let go of my little girl, my baby, my firstborn, I can't let her go out into the wild, crazy world, because she's not ready! I'M not ready!!"
Today, she hugged me, and touched my face, and I thought, "Maybe... maybe I can do this."
Nah, not really, but you know... I'll give it a really good try.
Happy Birthday, Impertinent Daughter. You have given the roller coaster of my life some really wild twists and turns, some of them utterly terrifying, but I hung on and I've enjoyed the ride. And I can't wait to see where it'll take us next!!