My daughter... She's all grown up now. Her birthday is tomorrow, August 21st. She'll be twenty-four years old. I can still remember, as if only yesterday, bringing her home from the hospital. Her daddy and I had baby-sat for many friends before the birth of our first born. Our home was a good 45 minutes from the hospital and on the way home, I remember talking about how this baby was ours, we wouldn't be sending her home after a few hours. We were so proud of our brand new baby girl.
Through the years... We did all the parental things, making sure our little girl was well rounded in life's experiences. Swimming, gymnastics, piano, Brownies and Girl Scouts cookies, private religious schools, public schools, holiday celebrations, sleep-overs, dances, cats and dogs, vacations to Disneyland, camping, fishing, hiking, biking, friends and family gatherings... The same most every other parent does for their kids.
Then they turn into Teens... By now, I had become a single parent of two children after divorce. A girl, 14 years old, and a boy, just 6 years old. We had been divorced two years and I had two "only" children, going in two separate directions. I did the best I could to keep some stability in the lives of these kids. When we lost our home, I stayed in the same neighborhood so the kids would go to the same schools. My parents lived 800 miles away, with all the rest of my extended family. So, it was us three against the world for a few years.
Life was hard... Idaho is not easy on single women. The wages here are barely above poverty when trying to support a family. I found it difficult to keep a job, for the first time in my life. There were times I didn't know where our next meal would come from. I remember attending my son's teacher conferences, late that fall, when he was in 1st grade. The teacher had asked me something and I just broke down and cried. She must have been an angel because next thing I knew, the City Police were at my door with food and gift donations that Christmas. Those days seem so far away, but they were just in the last ten years.
Somewhere along the way... My daughter lost respect for me as her mother. It was more than the normal teen thinking their parent knows nothing. When she turned 18 years old, she left without letting me know where she was. Then within a year, she moved from Boise to Seattle. I remember feeling so lost, so helpless... How could I be a part of her life, living so far away? What if she met someone special and wanted to get married, have kids, how could I be a part of this? I never, ever dreamed I would live life without my daughter, my only daughter. I always imagined our lives would be entangled with each other; family dinners, movies out, shopping, crafts, baking, and just hanging out together. I know, as a young adult and mother, I spent a lot of time with my parents, stopping by whenever I could, calling and talking with them several times a day. We went shopping and camping and just everything together. I don't believe it's possible to have this with my own daughter, and I never saw it coming.
Divorce happened to all of us... My daughter was affected by this divorced as much as I was. She was just 12 years old when I left the kids' father. I do not know if I could have done anything different than I did. I do know, I did the best I could for both my kids. They were always my first consideration in my decisions. I can only hope that someday, both my kids will understand I did the best I could for us.
My adult daughter... She has every right to her own life, her own opinions, her own way of doing what she does. I do not understand her distance, her withdrawal from me. It hurts so much. She has been living so far away from home for so long now, I don't notice the pain so much. When I stop to think of all the time we've missed being together, all the moments we'll never have, the memories we are missing, it just kills me.
I love my daughter with all my heart... I know she loves me too. Someday, I hope whatever is keeping her from me will go away and she will find happiness in our relationship. Happy Birthday, Baby. I miss you.
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