A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.
I wondered how other people did it being mom, dad, sole financial bread winner, housekeeper, nanny, cook, accountant, mechanic, personal trainer and coach, role model (all the while being a kid yourself and trying to figure out your own puberty)... and at age two all she said was "But mommy, I can't find it." Referring to the missing shoe you asked her to retrieve. Gravity to the floor in helpless heap thinking surely you would never survive through it. But you do.
All the while clinging to those moments where a glitter would sparkle from her eye, or without thought she would rub your back while saying, "I love you bushes of pickles, mommy." That always seemed to make it worth while and far exceed any disappointment you had in yourself.
As they grow so do their defiance and stance to be separate; yet still clinging to a fistful of your hair when strangers approach. They undue the fancy do-up hair you crafted so patiently in the early morning, after they arrived at school, and just before the yearly pictures, because they liked their way best. So when the pictures arrived, the ones that you the bread winner must purchase, tears fill your eyes wondering if you can really do this thing called parenting all by yourself.
Then she takes out the trash and does the dishes, "I love you mommy." comes out of her mouth with her quaint beautiful smile. The disappointment fades with the innocence in it all.
You learn to follow her more closely as her body changes. Not to act too surprised by her first kiss. You thought it would take longer, you say to yourself. Where did the time go? Can I make it through this? What if he is a villain? Can you protect her heart? Will she believe us if we tell her? First sign of us letting go. We are not sure if we can do it. It is too hard to bare. Then she shares her promise she made to herself. She hugs you real tight like your baby once did, "I love you so much, mom" as she strokes your hair. Something deep inside says you raised her well so far. It will all be fine.
As you look at her hands you see your own. She is volunteering in the community, doing plays at night... taking trips to Washington, camp counselor in the summer. She and her boyfriend have been close for a while. You learn to ignore the little tiffs as she asserts her power. Try not to act crushed when you read her poem that reports she no longer sees you as someone to look up to just another woman. Then when you are resting in the evening her grown body crawls beside you, for no other reason then she wanted to be beside you. You think to yourself (already knowing the answer) could i love anything more?.. as you stroke her hair and listen to her breathing.
Then comes the day when you are shopping for just the right quilt to use in her new dorm room. You walk behind her in the isles wondering where did all the time go? You think of her lost shoe and everything in between and the tears fill your eyes thinking of the good-byes. You think to yourself, you will soon be alone and motherhood over.
Boy were you wrong! Then comes the man, her lover forever. And soon comes the babies as your family grows bigger. Then comes life's curve balls you wished she avoided. Although she pushes you away you stand beside her. Wondering, is there anything that can be done to shield her?.. "where is the handbook they forgot to give me?"