Last week, I became the mother of two adults when my youngest daughter turned 18. This week, I will become the mother of two college students when she graduates from high school. It’s all so surreal.
I can still close my eyes and see her baby face, her blonde wispy hair, and her twinkling green eyes shining back at me. This Yankee mother had a southern toddler who constantly said: “Mama, I love you,” from the time she could form the words.
Lucky, or unlucky, for both of my children, their early childhoods are memorialized in three memoirs that I wrote about them. Their later years are detailed in 10-plus years of this blog. But the things that stand out about raising children are not always stories, they are moments.
I will never forget the time she told me: “I love you even when you’re mean.” It’s a mantra both of us still repeat to this day to one another when we argue. I titled my third memoir after something she would say to me before bed: “I love you to God and back.”
I can still feel the weight of her on me in the Baby Bjorn. I carried her everywhere—on long walks, running errands, making dinner. Sometimes she slept. Other times she looked up at me, comfortable within the close proximity to my warmth and the rhythm of my heartbeat. These are times I will always remember, and she will not. This is the quandary of parenthood—they know not what we did for them, how much we loved them.
But as we pass these milestones into the next chapter of parenthood—parenting adults—I am forever grateful that I wrote it all down, that we can go back and not just look at photographs and videos but read about the memories that are now the fabric of our lives.
Hopefully, someday when my children, their partners, and their children ask me what they were like when they were little, I will hand them my books and tell them to read all about it …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.