It’s no secret that I had Paige when I was 20 years old. The year was 1994. If you do your math correctly, that puts Paige at the tender age of 17 and me at 30. Okay, 30 plus 7 years.
The bulk of my twenties revolved around going to school part time, working part time and raising a kid full time. Rinse and repeat. I am not going to lie, it was really hard being a twentysomething single parent. I am not saying it lacked joy or wasn’t fulfilling. I made a choice and I wouldn’t change a thing. But it was still hard go through. Seeing your friends jet off to Europe for three months while you’ve spent the last 10 evenings in a row watching A Bug’s Life while playing 13 consecutive rounds of Chutes and Ladders can crush your soul just a little bit. I’ll admit, there were times when a little bourbon helped get me through it all.
Lately though, I’ve been feeling this sense of conclusion. In a year, Paige will be 18. I won’t be able to boss her around anymore. I know I can still be my bossy self, but at the end of the day she doesn’t have to do what I say. I already am anticipating the frustration.
To compound things, Paige has enrolled in a dual credit program this fall which means that she’s is concurrently a junior in high school and a freshman in college. In two years, she’ll graduate from high school with two years of college under her belt. And to no one’s surprise, she’s is already acting like she’s a grown up college kid. In fact, a campaign to convert our garage into studio apartment has already started. She’s been hearing stories about how college graduates are moving back home and she needs to have her own place where I am not going to smother her independence. Besides, where else is she going to crash between her trips to Italy and New Zealand? She’s got it all planned out.
Me on the other hand – I am still trying to figure out what I am going to do. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life making life decisions based on whether or not it would be best for “the family.” I don’t think I even know how to make decisions outside that paradigm. At least not without feeling pangs of guilt. I’ve been so focused on being a mother that I know I’ve lost who I am. Or perhaps, I was a mom at such a young age I never even developed a good sense of self. Either way, I am starting what I’ve been calling The Live Big Project to help me figure out what is the next big thing for me. And as scary as it is, I’ll be spending the next year or so leading up to Paige’s 18th birthday figuring out who I am outside of being a mom.