Sept. 6, 2011 — I could hardly believe that the newspaper was planning on covering the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93.
I kept thinking it couldn’t have been a decade.
But, I have my own timeline living with me. Let me explain — Sept. 11, 1994 I was blessed with the birth of my youngest of three daughters.
So this Sunday, my precious blonde, blue-eyed Veronica turns 17.
Ouch, that sounds so old to me.
I used to tease her all the time saying, “Who said you could grow up?”
She would answer, “I can’t help not to, mommy!” in her exasperated voice.
Her grammar is better.
She is taller than me, but she still uses that exasperated voice with me.
The words have just changed.
For instance, I was laughing hysterically at a diaper commercial a few weeks ago and she told me that when she is around me she thinks she loses brain cells.
Now, some of you may think that is rude coming from a teenager to her mother.
But, she may be right.
She didn’t see the humor in the commercial, but as a mom of three girls and someone who took care of countless friends’ children, I was so glad I no longer have little ones in diapers that I was struck by the humor of wanting to buy a diaper with an anti-blow out factor.
(If you are not a parent or a diaper changer, you just lost brain cells too.)
I am pretty melancholy right about now.
I am trying to deal with my last child turning 17 with a huge smile on my face, but the truth is the whole empty nest thing really scares me.
My daughter has one more year of high school and she is the last one at home.
I figure I have less than a year before she heads off to university life.
So, do I have enough time to teach her everything she needs to know?
Can she cook enough healthy meals to sustain herself?
Can she do laundry, iron, pay bills, keep a checkbook, hold a job and fill the gas tank?
If she gets the flu, can she take care of herself?
If she is in a big city and there is an earthquake or a hurricane can she get to safety?
Does she know how to handle herself with those who want to take advantage of her?
When walking to her car, does she know how to hold her keys as a weapon and to look in the back seat?
Who will hold her when she is sad?
Who will she say, “Mommy” to when she wants something?
Will we be home when she is homesick?
And am I brave enough to say, “What are you going to do about that?” when life takes a turn she didn’t expect.
I tell you, 18 years are not enough to prepare a child, especially the baby.
Of course, I spoiled all three daughters and expected them to have a backbone and be vocal, outspoken women.
They all are.
The older two are married, happy, settled and in their 20s.
On the flip side, Veronica will only be 17 so we still argue and fight like mom and teenage daughter are apt to do.
It is those days that I say those words like, “As long as you live in my house,” “When you are 18, you can move out,” “I hope you have kids, just like yourself then you will understand,” and “you have no idea how easy you have it, I had to ….”
I roll my eyes when she worries about her hair, clothes, sense of style, grades, etc.
Should I tell her that I worried about the same things and being 17 is not easy, or should I tell her everything she is worrying about is nonsense and someday she will realize none of it matters?
Rhetorically, there is no answer, because like she says, “You are my mom and you have to love me!”
Well, baby girl, you’re right, I do love you, but not because I have to — but — because I want to, and you are one amazing young lady!
It is going to be quite a ride getting to know the adult you, but bear with me as I get used to you not being the baby anymore!
In the meantime, you are still my sunshine, my only sunshine!
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