On Saturday, May 30th, my eyes popped open. It was around 7 AM. Much too early to be awake for a weekend. But, I rarely sleep past 7 AM these days. And if I sleep until 8, that is a real miracle. My body just wakes up early. I rolled over and looked at Brian. He was still sleeping, snoring softly. "Jerk," I thought jokingly. "He can sleep through anything."
I lightly tapped him. He grunted and rolled over. I tapped him a little harder, and his eyes opened slightly.
He grunted again. But I knew he was awake.
"I can't believe our daughter is 10 today."
"How is it possible that we have a 10 year old? Are we seriously that old?"
"How did this happen to us? It was just yesterday that she was a baby."
"And she is not even here so I can wish her happy birthday. She has already left us and she is only 10. How did that happen? How did we let her leave us?"
With that, Brian rolled over and was snoring again.
So much for interesting conversation.
Of course, she didn't really leave us. But that's what it felt like to me.
I stared up at the ceiling for a while and wondered what Maddie was doing. She had left the day before to go camping with her girl scout troop. We had known about this trip for months, and she was totally fine with being gone on her birthday. I can already predict that when she is 18, she will be my girl that will be out the door and living far away. When we went to New York City for the day in December, she was my child that was walking 15 steps ahead of us. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Aidan was my child that was clutching Brian's hand and looking around cautiously.
When we learned that her annual camping trip would be on her birthday weekend, she assured me that she was fine with being away for her birthday. So, what could I do? I wasn't NOT going to let her go with her girl scout trip if she wanted to go. If she was fine with it, then I was too.
When I gave birth 10 years ago, we did not know that Maddie was a girl. We chose not to find out. During my pregnancy, many people predicted that I was having a boy. I mentally prepared myself for a boy. But, deep inside, I kind of thought she was a girl. When she popped out, I heard the nurse call out, "It's a girl!" I remember smiling to myself. I knew she would be a girl. I knew I would get my Madeleine.
And now here we are. It is a full decade later. And suddenly we have a 10 year old. I watch Maddie and she still is a little girl. She runs around like a wild kid. But then other times she tries so hard to be a mature mini-adult. Sometimes I see her step up. Other times - I see her have a melt down. I have to remind myself that she is still a kid. A little girl.
I suppose that the next 10 years will go just as fast as the first 10 went. And then, just like that - we will have a 20 year old. And then she will really be gone. Off at college. Off exploring the world. Off doing what she needs to do. And I will have no choice but to let her go.
In another decade, my conversation with my sleepy husband will go something like this:
"How do we have a 20 year old? Are we really that old?"
"I can't believe she is gone. She is 20 and has left us. She is off at college and never coming home."
"How did we let her just leave us? How did that happen?"
Brian will roll over and go back to sleep, leaving me to stare at the ceiling, wondering where my baby girl went.