At 3:19 this afternoon, my daughter will officially be eighteen years old.
You're probably expecting me to say time has flown, but it hasn't. Or that it feels like yesterday I was giving birth to her . . . but no, it feels like it was eighteen years ago. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I very rarely have that sentimental sensation everyone talks about of the days passing so quickly. I seem to have chewed, savored and digested each day of her life sufficiently to be quite conscious of the fact that it has been eighteen years since we welcomed her into the world at Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
That means I'm "middle-aged" now. Which is also not a shock to my system. I feel like so much has happened in my life that I would have to be at least middle-aged by now. I enjoy my age. I'm old enough to have some experience in life and to be taken seriously by people, but not old enough to be out of it and therefore no longer taken seriously by people. If any of that makes sense.
My daughter, on the other hand, is now a legal adult.
THAT is the shock to the system.
She will be able to vote this fall. She is going to be driving herself around on her own soon (God willing . . . ) in her own car to her own job. She is going to need her ID with her to get on the plane tomorrow when we fly back to Sioux City for her prom, because she is no longer a minor.
Cuz she's eighteen.
Right now, I'm grateful that she's not going away to college. I'm not ready for that hole in my life yet. If it were happening, I suppose I would get ready, but I'm glad to not have to be getting ready for that. I'm glad I don't yet have to worry if I did a good enough parenting job that she's ready for that.
Actually, it's not really that I don't trust her to run her life. (I don't think.) It's more that I don't want to not be in the middle of the life she runs. I hate to think of significant things happening to her -- or even piddly things -- and I'm not a part of it. I'm on the outside. The fringe. That would make me very sad. For eighteen years now, she has been there, and I've been there, and our existences have been tied up together, and I know those threads will need to loosen (they already have), but tight ties feel stable and looseness feels like lostness, and I'm having visions of the clips I saw in the previews of the movie "Gravity" where the astronaut is floating off into outer space (a clip that literally gave me heart palpitations and confirmed that I never want to see the movie), and in my head I'm watching my daughter float away among the silent stars, and I'm screaming, "No! No! Come back! Give me your hand!"
Yes, that's over-dramatic. But surely it's normal to feel that way when your oldest daughter is turning . . . sigh . . . EIGHTEEN.