They say after you have a baby, you blink, and then that baby is headed off to college.
I call bullshit.
A kid doesn’t just wake up one day and become an 18 year old. It’s a process. Time slows down after the age of 9.
And do you know why years 9 through 18 are slowed down? I’ll tell you why – it’s so Scott and I can be slowly reminded we’re going to be grandparents one day. THAT’S WHY.
The hormones that will make my grandchildren have showed up with their pretty, little eye-rolls.
Emma turned 9 this weekend. I usually write a sweet post about Emma’s birthday. Emma’s birth made me a mom. She made Scott a dad. Her grandparents became grandparents and her aunts and uncles became, well, aunts and uncles.
And when you’re a newbie at raising a baby, you will get unsolicited advice. Maybe it’s not so much advice but a warning. Like a hurricane. It’s coming straight for us and all we can do is board up the house and hide.
“You’re doing good, mom. Believe it or not, you’ll miss these days when she’s a teenager!” – an older mom at Target, watching me wrestle a screaming, arched-back baby Emma in my arms.
“Oh, this is nothin’. Just wait until junior high!” – my dad, during a five-year-old Emma meltdown.
“Well, she’s 9 years old now. She’s not a kid anymore. 4th grade is the year. You’ll start to see a few girls…with body changes.” – the pediatrician, at Emma’s wellness check.
If there is one thing my kid overachieves at, it’s exploding estrogen. The teenager showed up last year. It was subtle at first.
You’re the meanest mom ever! I tell all my friends you’re mean!
That’s cool. A big kid meltdown. When she’s mad at me, she runs to Scott. And when she’s mad at Scott, she runs to me. We have this all under control. She has no clue we’re on the same team.
Then it unraveled within the year.
I don’t like my hair in a ponytail because my face looks fat.
I just walked around the playground by myself because no one would play with me. I want to change schools now.
That girl said she’s not going to be my friend anymore. Everyone hates me because I’m ugly. And Kate is the pretty one.
Watching a child change into a woman is painful. Heartbreaking, even.
I could write advice about middle school and the awkward years. But she wouldn’t relate to it because she hasn’t been through it. And I know the first rule of age 9 through 18 because I invented the rule – don’t listen to your mother.
She’ll figure it all out.
She’ll figure out those mean kids don’t hate her. Those mean kids will just turn into asshole adults. The world is full of them. They probably don’t even know they’re assholes. She’ll learn to brush them off.
She’ll figure out she is not ugly. It won’t take a family member to tell her she’s not. Or even a girlfriend. Or a stranger. The only person that will get her to believe she is pretty is a boy.
And as far as a dislike for her hair up, well, I don’t like my hair up either. Not because of the word “fat” but because I feel like I look like a boy. If she doesn’t like her hair up, then good. She cares. Wear your hair down, Emma. Be your own woman.
She’ll figure out that raising a child never gets easier. Worry is a cloud that hangs over parenthood. Worrying about her baby taking its first breath is just as scary as worrying about her toddler falling down the stairs. And that worry is just as scary as that “child” driving off to college, freshman-stye.
She’ll figure out one day that she’ll be a woman that blinked. And she’ll call bullshit too.
Because she is my child.