I am not a fan of change. I never have been. This is probably why the girls’ birthday was so difficult for me.
I have sometimes thought of running away from this life — being the catalyst of change instead of suffering through it.
As much as I love my family with each new baby, each passing birthday I have felt myself more and more panicked by my changing world. Unfortunately, there is no stopping it and I must endure for the sake of those depending on me.
The girls’ of course were thrilled about the idea of being adults and having the chance to make it on their own. This is the true test on the parents. If we failed them, they will suffer for it now.
Penny, however, felt she was suffering for a different reason.
“Mom, ahem, there aren’t a lot of things on that table…”
“Oh, le sigh, did you expect to get something awesome for your birthday? We did buy you and your sister a car when you turned 16. Did you expect that for 18, too?”
“Well, dear daughter, maybe if you were less greedy in the future you would get better gifts.”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I am such a little shit.”
“Yes, yes you are. And not very observant. Perhaps if you checked the back porch…”
I didn’t even have a chance to finish my sentence before Penny was in her coat and out the door.
So much for less greedy…
We did spoil them a bit and this birthday was no different. We stretched it so thin I was unsure how we would make it the next payday.
I would never tell the girls I sold my $8,000 camera and Garrett sold his $3,000 video game system to make this happen.
Before long Mom, Oliver, Lanya, and Colleen showed up with the birthday cakes. There was no turning back now…not that I had any choice. If only I had the power to stop time.
My darling Penny went first. This was it.
In only a few seconds we would no longer be a family with four children living at home. We would be a family with 18-year-old young adults.
The enormity of it all hit me in that moment. The girls are leaving the nest. Adam’s birthday is next week. He will be a child. Lucy’s birthday in two. A toddler. My own next month. Over the hill.
Wasn’t I just planning my wedding?
I didn’t have much time to reflect. Suddenly, my beautiful, intelligent, young adult daughter was standing in front of my eyes.
Not to be out done Olivia ran up to her cake and in a sparkling second
She turned into the sassy, girly, artistic woman I always knew she would become.
And my little sister put aside her differences with Penny to celebrate her own birthday.
Her intelligence and athletic ability rivals my own. Maybe one day I will watch her play on the Olympic team. Maybe she’ll become the astronaut I never got to be.
I felt a harsh sense of failure just then. My sister had grown up without me. My littlest sister, Holly, was doing the same thing. Did she even know who I was? I would make more of an effort to be involved in their lives.
My brother brought his dog, Roux, to the party. Roux was also getting older and my brother wanted to be as involved with the little guy as he could. So…we let Roux have some cake too.
Later that evening the girls ran off to party with their friends. While I was cleaning up I noticed my Dad with Adam.
Again the guilt hit me. It must be the old age hormones coming on but I felt awful for not seeing my Dad as much. My parents needed to also be a bigger part of my life and my children’s lives.
With the rest of feelings I felt the desperate need to hug my baby. I was not the only one.
I walked into the room and was paralyzed by the look on my mother’s face. The anguish, the pain, the loneliness.
One day, she would see Lucy go before herself.
I learned more in one night than I had learned in my entire life.
My mother is stronger than I ever thought possible.
My father is my hero.
My husband is truly my better half.
My daughters will be ok in the world.
And I…well, I guess I will survive this change after all.