I will admit that I rank up there with some of the most uptight of moms — I’m certainly the most fretful parent in my house. While my husband is far more laid-back, I’m the one who worries that homework is done (neatly and on-time, thankyouverymuch), that the bedroom is picked up, that “pleases” and “thank yous” are said when they’re supposed to be said. I’m like this despite the fact that my 9-year-old daughter is, by all measures, an easy kid: she’s not one to throw tantrums (and never has been), she makes friends easily and is infallibly, and she does well in school. And still, I worry: am I doing well enough to equip her when it’s time to leave our house? Will she be independent enough to stand on her own two feet? Will the world become more evil as she grows, and am I protecting her too much? Will she be okay?
Then this past weekend happened. And it didn’t even involve my daughter — it involved someone else’s.
I had received an email from this young woman, Maddy, a few months ago. Maddy is the daughter of one of my former coworkers and a dear friend, and she’s graduating high school. She asked me to do her senior pictures — and honestly, I was in shock. I met Maddy when she was 5 — how was it possible that she’s already 18?
Naturally, I said yes. And I spent 1-1/2 hours last weekend taking her photographs.
Maddy is clearly a pretty, joy-filled girl, and my camera loved her, but that’s not why I had such an amazing time taking her photographs. See, Maddy might be the first 18-year-old I’ve known since childhood, and I’ve seen her sporadically enough that we enjoy each other’s company, but not so often that seeing her every few years doesn’t bring the shock about how much she’s grown. In other words, every time I see her, I’m struck by how she has developed into adulthood. And since I don’t often spend time talking to 18-year-olds, our conversation was eye-opening: she’s warm. And she’s self-possessed. And loves and respects her mom. And is grateful for the good in her life.
And ready for her future.
As I was talking to her, and watching how close she remains with my friend, her mom, I realized that these are the things that matter — far more than whether my daughter picks up her room, for heaven’s sake. I think, ultimately, what we want for our kids is that they’re good people, that they show love for other people, and that when it’s time for them to leave our home, they’re ready to tackle the world. It was such a good readjustment of my priorities I think — and a great reminder that my fun-loving, kind daughter is on the right track.
So, to all the moms out there who fret like I do: happy Mother’s Day, my sisters. And remember: as long as we continue to love our kids, and we show them that we love them often, I figure we’re doing just fine.