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The Light at the End of the Tunnel…

My glorious week of hands-on motherhood is winding down and I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience, once again, life with my daughter Hannah.  I was reflecting, last night, on the evolution of my role and the joy of sliding into such a comfortable relationship.   
Gone are the days of taxi, bank, discipline and planningmom.  Though it didn’t always feel overly satisfying, hindsight allows me to look back on those days with fondness.  The struggles to organize multiple lives and meet the needs of other individuals, while balancing my own life of work and creative output are replaced with the easy camaraderie of sharing the minutia of daily life, acknowledging a different perspective and opening the book of memories. 
Her life is centered in a small town in Northern California where she has spent the last four years transforming into a separate, yet allied individual.  This month she graduated from college.  I wanted to mark this occasion with something special and monumental.  She just wanted a trip “home”.  I picked treasured pieces from my jewelry box and gave her a choice.  She selected a simple silver bracelet that reminded her of a gentler time in her childhood. 
There were moments this week when, I stood aside in awe of the woman she has become.  Friends remarked I had done well as a mother to raise such a wonderful person.   I don’t remember any one thing I could attribute to myself, that made her who she is today.  Perhaps it is simply the raw honesty of stumbling through parenting; the pain and tears, the joys shared and triumphs embraced, the humanness of giving of yourself that makes for success.  An artist stands back, declares her work done at some point, and releases it to the world at large.  There will always be some small part of the artist that looks with a critical eye and thinks, “I could have done better.”  So too, a mother looks upon her child and thinks, “If only I could repeat this or that, I know I could have done better.”  But the reality is, those slight imperfections in my parenting probably carried the best lessons of independence for my daughters.
I love this age.  When her friends show up they bring food and drink, rather than raiding my pantry.  They enjoy hours of talk and reminiscing rather than beer pong and loud debauchery.  They are polite and genuinely interested in my life and thoughts.  Obviously, other parents have done an equally good job of fledging their young from the nest of childhood.
My recollected stages of parenting include:
o   Super Mom when babies and toddlers look at you with awe because you hold the key to life and love
o   Authority Mom when boundaries are challenged but the you still hold the keys to life and love
o   Idiot Mom when your sole purpose in life appears to your teenaged daughter to be as a source of embarrassment and unnecessary control
o   Band-aidMom when you may actually have the answer, currency and ability to fix a problem your daughter hates to admit she is struggling with
o   And, finally, Wise and Worthy of Respect Mom, when all egos and struggles between you subside.

I love this stage and hold it out there for all my friends who are working through the other phases; this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Hanni and her old cat, Belle

2 comments on “The Light at the End of the Tunnel…

  1. I love your list of Mom stages. My youngest son is about to turn 18. I still fall somewhere between idiot mom and wise and worthy. Some days he shows me a deep respect and love while other days he still rolls his eyes when I talk about his life choices. I look forward to when we will sit together and reminisce and probably laugh at these days.

  2. And those days will come, Laura. It's our reward as Moms!

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