I have an 18-year-old.
The enormity of this hit me last week when a friend’s daughter turned 9 and someone posted on her Facebook page that she was halfway to 18. And while moments ago my oldest was 9, unbelievably, she turned 18 on Monday.
I remember being 18. And when I was 30, I remember still feeling like I was 18. And now that I’m almost 50, I don’t really feel 18 anymore, but I don’t feel like I should have an 18-year-old either. I haven’t had kids long enough to have a child that’s actually an adult.
The upside is, my 18-year-old is the nicest, smartest and most considerate teenager possible. Other than a rough patch between 20 months (when the twins were born) and 5 years, she’s been the easiest child ever. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a pleasant teenager, but I’ve definitely been blessed. (Her brothers and sister aren’t too shabby either).
So now she’s on the verge of flying the coop, and it doesn’t seem possible. Parenthood is funny that way. When you are in the thick of it, is seems to take forever but when you look back, it’s like it was on fast forward the whole time.
We waited forever for Maggie. At first we had trouble conceiving, then there were several miscarriages and finally after we conceived her, it seemed like the pregnancy would last a lifetime. When she was born, time stopped ever so briefly as we basked in the glow of our new family.
But then life happened. She went from ordering her brothers and sister around to driving them around. She went from needing my help to helping me out. Right before my eyes, she went from a helpless little baby to a self assured young adult.
I remember wondering when she turned 10 who she would become, and now it’s becoming clear. She has plans, ideas of how her life will unfold and a grasp on the future. In a few short months, she’ll be leaving for college. My husband keeps pointing out that technically, she could move out today if she wanted.
In my heart, she will always be my little girl. I know there will be many times down the road when she will still need me, but the truth is, the bulk of my job here is done. She made it to 18 and is well on her way to a wonderful life of her own. I couldn’t be more proud.
But at the same time, I’m still a little sad that it all happened so fast.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.