Happy Birthday, Baby!

She is 18 today, which not only means she is officially an adult, but also that I am the mother of two adults and no children. It means that there will be no more self-pep talks in the bathroom about how they are only little once, and I need to cherish each moment (regardless of whether each moment includes a temper tantrum or spilled juice cup). 

She is 18 today, and that means that she is the director of the next steps in her life and I am the (opinionated) spectator. No more leading her to the bathroom to wash off my lipstick that she so “expertly” applied to her five-year-old lips. No more choosing the shortest book on her shelf so we could shut the lights off on time for once.

She’s 18 today, and I don’t know how we passed all these years in a blink. We went through all the stages and I can count each one by the boxes in her closet; from Littlest Pet Shop and Barbie, through the Friday at Freddy’s era and right to My Chemical Romance in those middle school years. It’s like counting rings on a log slice and understanding that every ring was a sign of growth and maturation that brought us to this beautiful fruition.

I’m not scared because I think she’s not ready She’s strong, funny and smart. She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want, and she knows that might change from time to time. She has an iron will and sticks by her convictions. She’s the eleven-year-old who I hid behind when we had a mouse in the house, for heaven’s sake. Her older brother and I ran up the stairs while she found a way to catch and humanely release it.

And I’m not scared because she can’t deal with hard things. She deals with tough situations gracefully and empathetically, taking my hand when she thinks I need support, coming in for a hug when she needs mine. She has advice for each member in our family that surprises and impresses me deeply. I have to wonder at the deep reserves of wisdom that live within her, even though she is so young (but already 18, my goodness). 

I’m actually happy for her, more than I’m scared for her. She’s got the tools to make herself an amazing, wonderful life. But I am this young woman’s mother, which means I have the right to a little trepidation. I worry about her stepping out into the world and getting those scars that we all carry on our hearts from living, loving and losing. I worry that she’ll get hurt and I won’t be there to pick her up and wipe it away with a hug and a song. 

And I worry about looking around an empty house and wishing I was next to her again, baking chocolate chip cookies and laughing at her remarkable imitation of her dad. Because, you see, being with her is like being with the easiest, coolest, most vibrant friend you ever had. And I know that I will miss her every second she’s out there, making the world a better place.

This girl is an 18-year-old woman, and I’m still wrapping my head around it all. As an opinionated spectator, I can’t wait to see what she does out there. World, please don’t break her heart, she’s one of the good ones. Sweetheart, don’t forget you have someone on your side, watching and cheering on every step you make.

She’s 18 today, and even though I simply can’t believe it, I’m so proud of her. She’s 18.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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