Beginnings and Endings

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My daughter Georgia, my oldest child, is graduating high school this Sunday. Today was her last day of high school. And my  youngest child, Lincoln, was born 3 weeks ago this morning. His little 8 pound floppy body is asleep across my chest as I type this.

I keep trying to come to terms with this, how one of my children can be about to leave this house to go off on her own just as another baby has arrived. And what a circle life is, constantly twisting and turning and coming back around.

I’ve been watching my daughter for the past month, singing at her last high school chorus concert, walking across the stage to receive awards and scholarships for college, trying on her cap and gown. All of this I’ve witnessed with a new baby in my arms. And it keeps striking me how it really doesn’t seem so long ago that she was this little. It was… It was almost 18 years ago. But still, I remember so clearly her itty little fingers and red peach fuzz covered head. Her baby noises. How she slept and fussed and ate. How scary labor felt and how new and fresh and exciting she seemed. And now, after the blink of an eye, or 18 long years (I’m not sure which), she’s going to college. She’s grown up. Whatever that means.

So it’s an interesting junction in life to find myself here now, with one child leaving and one just born. Of course it makes me think back to when Georgia was tiny, only it’s different this time. It’s not the same place and I’m not the same mother I was then.

I read once somewhere that first babies are your best foot forward. Even as a young mother with lots of hands-on baby experience, becoming a mother was daunting and scary to me the first time around. I wasn’t prepared for the rigors of 24-7 with a newborn who fed off my anxious overtired vibe. I didn’t expect to love her so very much. Her father disappeared, never to be heard from again, so I was literally on my own and scared how I’d make it all work. It was just hard.

With this baby, I have help. I have my teenage daughters to pitch in when they aren’t at school or activities. And my husband didn’t really let me lift a finger the first two weeks after Lincoln was born.  He did all the laundry and dishes and picking up and dropping off and took the baby when I needed a shower. I’m no longer at the point in my life where I’m counting pennies and losing sleep over how to make it all work. We are all just fine. More than fine. It’s a miraculous feeling after so many years of struggle.

So it isn’t the same. Georgia is Georgia and Lincoln is Lincoln. Different people who will grow up having different lives. They won’t even grow up in the same house since Georgia is going to college before Lincoln can even sit up on his own. But what is the same is that they are both my babies. Any child grown in your belly will always be your baby. Every mother knows that.

But the truth is, I wouldn’t be the mother that I am today if I hadn’t been Georgia’s mother first. Exactly as it all was, that is what made me who I am now. We are all works in progress, and I needed the path I took to progress to where I am now.  Every mother needs to be a first time mom and learn how to put our best foot forward and figure it all out.

So on Sunday my first baby is going to walk across a stage and get a diploma that says she’s graduated from this part of her life and is certified to move onto the next part. I will be sitting there watching with her newborn brother in my arms, thinking of when she was that tiny. Thinking of every moment in-between that got her where she is now. So very proud of her for all she’s done. And so thankful for the lessons she taught me along the way that have made me the woman and mother I am. And so grateful for the reminder to treasure the moments as they come, since they obviously slip by fast.

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