my oldest daughter, katie, turns 28 today. she has a house and a job, a mortgage and a baby. she has a husband and a subaru. she pays her own bills, manages her own life. i feel a great sense of accomplishment when i think about her, because, in so many ways, my job, as far as she is concerned, is done: katie is undeniably All Grown Up.
it is no easy thing to nurture the Adult out of the Child. there is more than a little magic, and always a bit of mystery. our culture largely leaves most of us unprepared for the task of parenting - babies don't come with instruction books, but we act as if they do. and adults don't spring fully formed out of children, either, but we act as if we think that's how it works.
i look back and i don't quite understand how it happened, either. somehow, we have navigated the tricky shoals between childhood and adulthood, between mother and daughter. somehow we have crossed the great divide. somehow the little vessel i launched so many years ago is not only capable of finding her way back home, but of navigating rougher seas than i ever seen. she is her Own Person, cast in my mold, perhaps, but not of my image.
and yet, when postulating who might die first - me or my grandmother - katie looked at me in horror and said, you can't die first.
of course i could, i retorted. everyone else roey's relied on to care for her have predeceased her. i figure if the Grim Reaper isn't coming for her next, it's got to be me.
that just can't happen, said katie. after all, what, do you suppose i would do without you?
my eyes filled, my heart swelled, and even i was at a loss for words.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.