Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Firsts & Lasts

Ever stop to think of all of the firsts and lasts in life?

Sheila here, and I've been thinking of so many of them this week. This Friday, I will be the mother of an 18-year old woman. It's so hard to believe that much time has gone by since Katie was born.

Being a mommy is highlighted by a long line of firsts. First tooth, first step, first time your baby sleeps through the night. First word (Katie's was Mama), first birthday pictured here, first day of school. I cried and cried the first time Katie climbed on the school bus and didn't look back. And the first time she was allowed to walk through the neighbors' yards to go to a friend's house one street away, I had a vision - "like a prophecy" as Elphaba sings in Wicked - of my little girl walking away from me for good.

This past year or so has been full of firsts too. First college visit, first job, first prom, first serious boyfriend, and first trips without Mom and Dad - visiting a girlfriend at college and visiting another country with her high school. It felt a lot like climbing out on a limb, trusting that she would come home safely without having me and Ric there to guide and protect her. The first college acceptance came just weeks ago - the University of Louisville. (Katie is waiting to see which others accept her before she makes her decision.) It feels as if we are racing down a road with no way of stopping or slowing down, each first a measure of my worth.

What I never thought about when Katie was younger is that parenthood also is marked by so many lasts. There's no way of possibly knowing which night will be the last when you will rock your sweet baby to sleep or the last time she'll want you to read a bedtime story. Katie and I were a couple of volumes into the Harry Potter book series when she was in elementary school, and one night she decided she would read the rest herself. Last week we went to her last school Christmas concert to watch her dance with the Pom team. As she and Eric carved pumpkins on our kitchen floor in October, I was thinking that she might not be here for this next year, and this week I've been wondering if this weekend will be the last one when she's home to put up and decorate our Christmas tree.

When Katie blows out 18 candles on her birthday cake this Friday, it will be both a last and a first - the last of her childhood, the first for a young woman with so much of life in front of her. And December ninth will renew Katie's birth day surprise for her mother - that moment when I looked at her on the day she was born and experienced a whole new level of what it means to love another person. Happy Birthday, darling girl.

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