As the doctor handed me my new born, along with the myriad of feelings, I felt a strange mix of helplessness and responsibility. This tiny human that lay peacefully in my arms, trying to focus on my face was my responsibility. I was responsible for nurturing her, raising her, loving her. Parenting was a trial and error. I did plenty wrong and I did plenty right. I followed my instincts and tried to learn from my mistakes. As my daughter grew from an infant to a toddler to a little girl to a teenager, my parenting changed. Just when I got comfortable in parenting a stage, she grew, she changed.
Slipping through my fingers all the time…
And I had to change the way I interacted with her, I had to learn again how to be a parent to her at that certain phase. I had to read her, understand her and react accordingly. The cycle of trial and error started anew at every phase of her transience.
“Here honey, hold my hand and stand up. You can do it. Look at you, big girl.”
“Please don’t snatch the toy from your friend.”
“Please wait your turn.”
“Finish your vegetables ”
“Wake up. You have to get ready for school.”
“I am so sorry 6th grade was difficult.”
“I am so proud of you for trying.”
“You can do this.”
“You will NOT talk that way to me.”
“Put your phone down NOW.”
“Be home by 11 pm.”
“Congratulation, my love. You did it.”
“Your room needs to be cleaned before I come home.”
“Let’s read next to each other.”
But despite the various changes, she was still a child, and I was the adult.
All of a sudden, as my daughter returned from her first year of college, I realized, I was the parent of an adult. A very young adult, but an adult nonetheless, who has somewhat outgrown the confines of our house. And perhaps, outgrown the confines of my parenting of last year. Even during her senior year, I was the nagging parent urging her to complete her assignments, finish her college essays, demanding she return home at a certain time, instructed her to take care of her room and tidy it the way I liked.
The woman who came back had changed somewhat and I had the sudden realization that I have to relearn how to parent her yet again. The gears need to be shifted, the expectations realigned. How much do I parent her, how little? I will always be honest in my opinion of her choices but in what way do I present it?
Like a new parent, I ponder over my new role. I will make mistakes, I will figure it out along with her. A journey starts and I am excited to see how I nurture this young human who is slowly emerging to take her rightful place in the world. But one thing is certain, I am here for her. Her constant, her roost.