navy

Grandmother?

I’ve been sitting on this secret since July!
My oldest daughter, the one who has moved off to Connecticut with her Navy husband, is pregnant!
Pregnant!
This is so wild to me. The idea that my baby is having a baby. I can’t even wrap my head around that. And I should be able to as this is my kid who has wanted to be mom pretty much since she was born.
I think part of the reason that it’s strange for me is that I had her when I was very young and so now, while she will be 20 when her little baby is born, I will only be 36! But also, I think because there was always such a stigma attached to my pregnancies, I get hyper defensive about her being pregnant. I had all three of my biological children by the time I was 22 and I never really had my shit together during that time. Back to back teenage pregnancies and then a relationship change, and not a good one, and another kid that was born after I had already left him. My pregnancies weren’t exciting nor celebrated in the way a traditional married couple’s might be. And that’s fine, I’m not all butthurt about it now – but I did realize how much it affected me when my daughter was about to announce her pregnancy. Like I was waiting for people to give her a hard time, because that was my experience. Luckily, it hasn’t been the case. And why should it be? She did all the stuff in the traditional sense. She dated, got married, got pregnant and when she posted on facebook that she was pregnant, she got congratulated and everyone is genuinely excited for her. Myself included.
And now it’s been a few days and everyone pretty much knows and I realized I had been holding my breath, waiting for there to be some kind of reaction that never came. And I’m so glad. I’m so very glad that she will never have to experience what it feels like to admit, rather than announce, a pregnancy to those closest to you and have them look at you with pity or fear rather than joy and excitement.
And so now we move onto the planning of the baby shower and the buying of teeny tiny clothes and I get to tell my daughter all the wonderful things about bringing her little baby into this world. About becoming a mother. As I am having these conversations with her, I imagine skipping forward another twenty years and seeing her having the same ones with her daughter. Twenty years is such a very long time, you learn so much, you change in so many ways… and yet, it happens in the blink of an eye.

Wherein my second daughter considers leaving Texas…

I’ve mentioned both here and here that both of my older daughters are moving away later this year.  My oldest is headed to Connecticut where her husband has been stationed and my second oldest is heading off to college.  I assumed that since her residential college costs would be cheaper if she stayed in Texas that she would most likely choose a school that was less than 500 miles from home, meaning I’d see her pretty regularly.  I did not count on the fact that a tiny liberal arts school in Minnesota would make her one hell of an offer.  An offer she is strongly considering accepting.

We are meeting with the school’s representative on Sunday and then waiting for the rest of the financial aid packages to arrive from the four Texas colleges before she makes her final decision, but right now – she is pretty enthusiastic about this school.  She likes it’s size, she likes the teacher to student ratio, she likes the geeky competition clubs…  So far, it’s competitive as far as out of pocket costs go… within a couple grand compared to the Texas college prices we’ve received so far.

But it’s 1,264 miles away from me.  Couple that with my oldest daughter moving 1,985 miles away from me and I’m glancing at the bottle of xanax in my nightstand.   When asked about what it’s been like having my oldest move out last year when she started college, I’ve said that having her less than an hour away has made the whole process a lot easier.  Like we were slowly pulling the band-aid off.  Having both girls move to states that are no where near me is going to be a lot more like ripping it off.

Our last Easter together…

My oldest daughter is moving to Connecticut in a few months, my second oldest daughter is heading off to college this fall and my new son-in-law is going to be deployed most of next year.  So this year, we really tried to cram as much Eastery-ness into our weekend.  We dyed almost a hundred eggs, we decorated the dining room with all the pastel stuff that we could find, we cooked just about all of the recipes from the Easter section of The Pioneer Woman’s holiday cookbook and we made tie-dyed t-shirts.  My hands are like super stained.

We are all trying so hard to spend as much quality time together as possible. It’s like we can feel the bubble that has encompassed us all cracking and we know that soon it will be gone and everyone will start spreading out.  And it’s such a weird time in my parenting career.  I am not sure what the right things to do are, I want to make sure I don’t miss things or push too hard or jump in front of any incoming Mistake Trains that are headed towards the girls.  They are both young adults and deserve to experience all of the things they are meant to experience, I can’t save them all the time.

And while the first part of my parenting career is coming to an end, I have the younger two girls here with another 4 and 7 years left before they head off to college and some times I feel like I spent all of my good momming on the older two and now I’m on cruise control with the younger ones.  Also, I don’t know if it was because I was so much younger, but I feel like I am much closer to the older two.  I feel like they are more open with me and that we have more of a friendship than a child and parent relationship.  With the little girls, I very much feel like a mom and I feel like I have to really try hard to get them to be open with me.  I often think this is how most mothers feel all the time.

My firstborn…

My oldest daughter has been living on her own for almost a full year now.  In that year she learned how to drive in the city, started college, learned to pay bills, got her first job, decided she hated having roommates, got married, switched jobs, bought a newish car and made the decision to move to be with her husband where ever he got stationed.  Which as it turns out is Connecticut.

It’s strange how much she has changed in that time.  Sure, a lot of who she has always been is there, a lot of who she was as a teenager is still there.  But the little changes that are the adult side of her are the ones I enjoy seeing.  I didn’t raise a daughter who is afraid to ask for help, quite the contrary really – she calls me almost daily and we discuss everything from switching jobs to grocery shopping to budgeting – but she is also quite capable of making a decision and sticking to her guns.  Even if I don’t agree with her.

One of the cooler aspects of having an adult daughter is how she gave me a son.  As a mother of four daughters, I’ve rarely had any boys around… just the occasional neighbor kid and more recently, a nephew.  I didn’t even get married until a couple of years ago, so really it’s just been an estrogenfest for the majority of the last twenty years.  I’ve toyed with the idea of adopting a little boy, but decided I was meant to mother the females and I’m gonna stick to what I know.  The thing about my oldest is that she always knew she wanted to be married and have a family.  When she had her first little boyfriend at thirteen and she asked him at what age did he think he would get married and he responded with “I have no idea, I’m just a kid” she realized she was different.  She’s never really been interested in just being a kid.  She wants to be a mom and a wife.  And that’s what she’s always wanted.  Luckily for her, the next boy that she asked that question didn’t react quite the same way and five years later, they said their I Do’s.

A lot of people think they are too young to get married.  It’s a double edged sword, being in love at a young age.  Everyone thinks you’re too young to get married but they also think you shouldn’t be living together (at least down here in South Texas)… And yeah, 19 and 21 are young ages for such a commitment, but those two have been in a relationship longer than any I’ve ever been in.  They are best friends and they make all of their decisions together. Sometimes they make mistakes that kids make and hopefully they learn from them, but I honestly could see them celebrating a 50 year anniversary some day because they are building their relationship to last.

In just a few months, she and I will load up her new little Escape with their three cats and a bunch of luggage and we will make the two thousand mile drive to Connecticut where I will leave her to start the next four years of her life.  It’s gonna break my heart but I know that they will take care of each other.

When daughters leave…

I’m a pretty hard core Outlander fan.  I haven’t been able to successfully get any of my children to read the series but when Starz decided to adapt it, both of the older girls got hooked on the show with me.  The release date for Season Two came out and as I went to add it to my calendar, I started making plans for a whole Outlander Day.. or weekend!  Make sure both of the girls are free and watch all of the episodes from Season One, maybe order the Outlander Cookbook and make some of the recipes!  (Haha! Just kidding, that cookbook won’t be released until June.  But her website has recipes!)  And then what goes from browsing eighteenth century recipes turns into bittersweet reality.

Both of my older daughters are moving away this summer/fall.  My oldest will be joining her husband in Connecticut where the Navy has stationed him.  They will be living there for the next four years, which seems like an eternity.  My second oldest daughter will be going off to college.  We aren’t sure where just yet as she hasn’t picked a school, but it’s unlikely that she will be close by. Knowing that they are both leaving is something I think about daily.

Last year when my oldest moved out feels like the trial run, this feels like the real change.

I’m not one of those parents that thought my kids would never leave, nor do I want to be.  Leaving is normal, natural.  It’s what is supposed to happen.  They need to get out there and learn about who they are as adults, about what kind of lives they want. I want them to. But man, wanting them to and actually gearing up for it to happen are very different things.

There are very few times in my parenting career where I felt like I had everything under control.  Parenting is more like a water ride where the current is changing and you have to move and hold on and adjust your plans because you rarely ever know what will come next or how you will handle it.  I feel like I’m coming around a blind turn on that water ride right now.  And all of the planning and preparing make me feel better about the upcoming changes, but the reality is that I have no idea what challenges will lie ahead.  And frankly, most of those challenges aren’t mine to take on.  (The Control Freak inside me hates that!)

As I sit here thinking about making a Mom and Daughter Long Distance Book Club or what kind of care packages I will send, my heart breaks a little because two people who I’ve known for almost twenty years are leaving to start their own lives, but it’s the best kind of sadness.