Fourteen and counting

My daughter is fourteen today. She confidently headed out for school today with pin-straight hair, a black guess birthday shirt and optimism that she would make the cheer squad at the Middle School. (Try-outs start after school). She looked like everything I wanted to be at her age: organized, pretty, popular, smart and happy.

Each day I lose her a little more. She was handed to me as a helpless infant, and every year she grows more independent.

This weekend I was given a taste of the challenges C will face as a teenager as girls her age push boundaries. She passed the first test. Tonight she will go to dinner with a couple of her friends - another test. Can they eat like ladies and not get kicked out of a local restaurant? On Saturday she will host her first teenaged co-ed party. Another test. My heart's in palpitations while a hundred "what ifs" pre-occupy my mind.

But this party isn't about me. I'm becoming obsolete as she steps farther and farther into life's limelight.

When they handed me my new baby 14 years ago today, I was thrilled. 10 fingers, 10 toes and a head full of jet-black hair. My baby. Our first child. I was completely unaware that I'd already feel like I was losing her after fourteen years. Last year I blogged about phases of children's lives. The problem is, that increased independence isn't a phase: it's a permanent development. The next "phases" are high school and college. Of course I want my daughter to be independent. Of course I am proud of her ability to manage on her own. But I can't help wishing she needed me for something other than my checkbook and driving her.

And of course, I wish that she was still my little baby girl, where her biggest wish was the easiest thing to grant: to be held in her Mom's arms, nurse and fall asleep. Tonight, she won't even eat with me. She wants to take a couple of friends out to dinner.... without Mom and Dad.

We don't have kids to keep them. We have them to give them away.


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