This Is 18: The End of One Chapter and The Beautiful Beginning of Another

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: This Is 18: The End of One Chapter and the Beautiful Beginning of Another

My daughter turned 18 and suddenly I feel old… well, older. I always knew this day would come. I just didn’t know it would come this soon.

This phase of momhood comes without warning. No one tells you how hard it really is and no one can prepare you for it. 

This Is 18: The End of One Chapter and the Beautiful Beginning of Another

 

Just yesterday, I rocked my baby in my arms and felt her gentle breathing when she fell asleep on my shoulder.

Just yesterday, she was teetering with every step as she learned how to walk, scrunching up her face when she tried a new food she didn’t like and giggling at silly songs in the car.

Just yesterday, it was her first day of preschool… in her favorite polka dot dress as she clenched my leg so tightly, afraid to take that next fearful step into the unknown world she eventually loved. 

Just yesterday, my girl started kindergarten and then middle school where her world got bigger and her time with me got smaller.

Just yesterday, she found friends who replaced time with me, a boyfriend who stole her heart, and activities that filled her days.

Just yesterday she graduated from high school and soon enough she’ll be off to college.

This letting go… the slow realization that she’s not just “mine” anymore… that I’ve done the best job I could to raise my girl right and now the world is waiting for her.

The epiphany that time with her living under my roof is drawing to a close… that I won’t be able to protect her like I once did and I can only hope and pray all my advice and lectures sunk in.

That she’s looking forward to this next big step in her life all while looking over her shoulder at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, Mama, you taught me well.” 

Where did the time go? 

I miss my girl’s littleness, but oh… how I love seeing her fly. 

This is 18.

This is what I stood my ground for, stayed up worrying for, nurtured her for, and did my very best to prepare her for. Every single moment from the time I first held her in my arms all leading to this one defining moment when she’ll leave our home without the soft protection of my arms to shield her from the world. 

My girl is 18 – a legal adult. So capable and confident and mature in so many ways. Yet, so inexperienced and unsophisticated in others. She looks all grown up, that I know, but when I peer into her eyes I see the little girl who giggled at silly songs in the car. 

She has one foot still firmly planted in her childhood and the other gingerly stepping into the next adventurous chapter of her life. 

THIS is 18…

She acts like she’s all grown up. That is until I remind her that I still pay for her car, car insurance, and cell phone.

She feels independent but she still asks me to go to the doctor with her.

She pretends she doesn’t need me, but she’ll turn to me when life gets hard or when she needs someone to cut it to her straight.

She still comes home and asks for money to buy gas or run through her favorite drive-thru. 

She still cries on my shoulder and needs to feel the warmth of my arms. 

She still goes shopping with me and still expects me to pay – even though she has a part-time job. 

She still gets chatty late at night (whether she’s home or not) and calls me to tell me about her day. 

She’s ready to venture off to college, but she secretly packed her favorite stuffed animal she’s had since she was four years old. 

Now that my girl is 18, I’ve realized that life is about to change in a big way and I find myself clinging to the comfort of the past while anticipating the bright beautiful future that lies ahead of her. 

Now that she’s 18, I look back on those precious days when I was my daughter’s WHOLE world… little does she know she’ll always be my whole world. 

Now that she’s 18, my girl still comes home, yearning for those silly family traditions and home-cooked dinners she grew up with and she still asks me to do her laundry. 

Now that she’s 18, I miss her tiny hand in mine and I long for those days when she crawled up into my lap – all while marveling at the beautiful young woman she’s become.

Now that she’s 18, she looks like a beautiful young woman on the outside, yet in my heart, I know she’s still so very little on the inside.

Mostly, now that she’s 18, I can’t help but smile to myself…

I smile because my beautiful daughter is wonderful, smart, and kind and I feel so grateful that I must have done something right to have such a precious daughter who fills my heart to the brim. 

I feel so blessed that God chose me to be her Mom and I’ve realized what an honor it’s been to have had a front-row seat on my daughter’s journey to adulthood and that nothing, nothing in this world will ever matter more than being her mom.

I’m not sure what I expected when my daughter turned 18, but now that I’m here, I’ve learned that 18 has its share of endings, but also so many beautiful beginnings.

18 doesn’t mean she won’t need me anymore. 18 isn’t the end of my motherhood journey. It’s just another wonderful chapter with pages and pages to be written and cherished. Yes, she’s 18, but one thing I know for certain, my daughter will always need me and I will always need her. 

To My Precious Daughter Leaving for College: This is a New Chapter for Us Both

10 Things a Mama’s Heart Feels at College Drop-Off

To My Teen Heading to College, Let These Lessons Sink In Before You Go

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