Sunday, February 16, 2014


Today, my daughter turned twenty. 

I appreciate this irony as I sip on her birth year bottle of Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:  in her eyes, her BIG birthday is still a year away (twenty-one), but in my eyes, her true big birthday is now.  She is no longer a teenager.  When she turned 18, in my mind it was easy to pretend that didn’t make her a real adult.  Going off to college, living in her own apartment, making her own choices…all of these I could rationalize that she was still my little girl.  My cute, dancing four-year-old or my sassy, leopard-print-loving ten-year-old.  I made it through the years of watching my little girl grow and mature in huge leaps and bounds. With getting later curfews, having long-term boyfriends, buying prom dresses, traveling alone, and paying college tuition.  Though each of these ripped a little hole in my heart, she was still a teenager.  I still had that.  But I can’t say that anymore. 

The day I gave birth to Ashlyn, I was actually two years younger than she is on this birthday.  Every single day of adulthood I have known, I have been a parent.  Every single day.  Is this sense of devotion I have to parenthood better than what other parents feel for their children?  Definitely not.  But is it different?  Very much.  I have never had a day without a worry of whether my babies were okay.  The anxiety of being a good parent is so instilled in my brain, I rarely have a thought without my children in the equation.  Parenting is all I know.   Though it is not all I have, it is what I have had the longest.  Longer than my college degree.  Longer than my career.  Longer than my love of wine.  Longer than anything.  Longer, even, than the time I have been married to their father. 

So as I sip my beautiful twenty-year-old wine, do I believe that no longer being a teenager means my daughter doesn’t need me?  In some ways, no, she doesn’t. I look at her and see the young woman she has become. She is a beautiful woman, inside and out.  She is strong, independent, smart, and driven.  I know my devotion to parenthood--often at the expense of other parts of my life--has been well worth it.  I know that one chapter of my parenting is, in fact, ending.  I also know how thankful I am to still have her brother at home.  To still have a child to devote time and energy toward, until he, too, will move closer to adulthood.

With this birthday she has taken yet another step in her growth toward autonomy and life without her mother, father, and family. I’m reminded of the saying, "Give your children roots and wings." As I sit sipping a glass of wine with her dad--a glass she is not yet old enough to legally share with us--I know that she will be expanding her own wings a little bit further. I also know that no matter how old or independent she is, I am always her devoted mother.  I have given her the wings she needs to fly out of adolescence and into true adulthood.  But I also know she has strong roots to bring her home whenever she needs it.