If you wonder why I’m a bit erratic right now, a bit like a toddler who didn’t have a nap–If you wonder why I’m likely to be laughing and have my eyes well up at the same time and have to wipe the snot coming out of my nose, here’s why.
I’ve spent the last seventeen years being a mom to a daughter who is graduating this year. I have spent the last twelve years here in Charlotte, yelling her out of bed every morning–I swear some mornings took seventeen tries. I spent two whole years doing read aloud of the Harry Potter series, two years listening to stories of the royal monarchy of the UK, a year listening to facts about Rosa Parks, two years listening to the details of the anime show called “Naruto.” I spent countless hours in the car on long road trips listening to Madison’s vast and diverse music collection. One year’s trips on movie scores, another on Japanese pop and K-pop. Another year on metal and this final year on a mixture of the best of the above, plus some angsty but good indie music. I spent lots of money on sketch pads and arts supplies as well as a once used box of Legos that were necessary at age eleven when a favorite teacher died suddenly. I’ve spent time at 504 meetings, and meetings with various school counsellors and wondered at times if we’d get through.
Someone told me today I did it all on my own. But that isn’t true. Once I dragged my friend Meg to a 504 meeting (Madison has Aspergers disorder and add), I’ve called friends when I needed help. When I was getting daily calls from Madison’s first school I brought her to Park Road where we all worked on helping her through it. At Park Road I sometimes sat with her on the beautiful grounds and helped her calm down when she was too upset to move forward. When I was too upset to move forward a friend would step in and listen. I came to love and depend on so many of the moms at Prm who couldn’t always offer answers–it turns out most people really don’t have perfect kids–but they sure did keep me from doing it alone. Friends have left us gifts along the way. This year when Madison suddenly decided to go to prom, friends offered us dresses. I’ve so loved the community I’ve been gifted at my school that I return yearly to a job that doesn’t pay much money, but pays so much in love and support. In all places I’ve looked there’s been that same love–my church, weird and inappropriate rafting friends and an indispensable group of cycling crazies.
Slowly, over the years, the storms have calmed. This past year Madison grew up so much it took my breath away–a lot of that simply because now she is able to wake up on her own and get in the shower (there was an era where showering wasn’t a given), no more seventeen wake-up calls. She got a job; and after many years of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad grades, she started trying harder and brought her grades up. Checking online for her grades no longer filled me with dread. This year we’ve biked the city, gone to movies and met a whole bunch of cool people. This year I watched her go from spending a ridiculous amount of time in her bedroom to getting out and exploring, donning the polka dot helmet and hopping on her bike. She’s grown into this strong, fierce and independent force. And just as I had to do when I was her age, sometime this summer she’s leaving home. She will move to Seattle and live with her father. She’s taking her bike and she wants to take a backpacking trip through Europe in the not too distant future. She’ll work for a while before she starts school because she needs a little time.
If you see me, please remind me to finish the cookbook of her favorite recipes we make at home that she asked for. If you see me crying, smile–and lets maybe not talk about it too much because I’m super sensitive about such things and will absolutely fall apart. But remember I’m sending a fledgling adult out in the world…I’m a little scared, I anticipate being a little lonely, but for the most part, I’m so proud of The Girl. This person they once handed me at the hospital to keep. That time I looked at the nurse and thought, “you don’t even know me. You’re giving me a whole human to raise and I could be anyone.” And here we are this year, at the end of high school having spent this life together. Sometimes I did a good job and sometimes I was really bad at it. But in this community of kindness and love and sometimes by the skin of our teeth, we made it through.