I spend a lot of time writing in my great room, in a chair that faces my bird feeders. I watch the chickadees and orioles, wrens and hummingbirds, robins and cardinals, going about their business, fighting over seeds, building nests, and most of all, taking food to their babies (or nesting mamas, depending on where they are in that stage of life), wherever they are in the woods behind me. These parents are busy being the best parents they can be, gearing up for a fast growth cycle that will move through just one season from baby to young adult, dependent to independent. It makes me really glad I'm not a momma bird, because I'm watching my teen daughter move into young adulthood...and taking the first steps toward leaving the nest.
When I look at the cover of my May release, DOORSTEP DADDY, I see her exactly as she looked when she was born. That cover image is very, very close to a picture I have of my husband holding our newborn daughter nearly sixteen years ago. To me, it's almost like it was yesterday.
And yet, now she's old enough to date, go to the junior prom with her boyfriend (who is a junior; she's not). To make many of her own decisions. To share secrets and giggles with her friends that no longer always include me. The circle that used to be her and I is still there, but we visit it less often, as she gravitates toward other circles with other people.
So far, it's been okay. She's made good decisions thus far, choosing friends I like, good girls who are as enjoyable to have around as my own kids. My daughter still talks to me, and we still have our own private jokes that only the two of us get and share.
But I can see the horizon. I can hear the clock ticking. We'll start visiting colleges soon, sending her off to Driver Ed training. Before I can blink, I know she'll be off on her own, out of the nest, living the life my husband and I have prepared her for. My heart is painfully torn between excitement for her and pain for me, as I watch one of my best friends move on and away, as she must.
I know one day she will be back, as I was with my own mother. She'll have her own children, and be on the phone, asking me for advice on changing diapers and quieting endless crying. And one of these days, she'll ask the hardest question of all.
"How did you ever learn to let go?"
PS: For a chance to win a copy of DOORSTEP DADDY, pop on over to my blog post at Love is an Exploding Cigar!