Parenting... a short story by Gwendolyn

It all goes by in a flash, One day you find out your pregnant. Oh the joy and fear such a momentous event to come, what to expect what to do, will everything be ok, on and on our human brains go. Then months latter you are praying to just be done, you feel swollen huge and miss-shaped... then Ahhh labor. To be followed by a tinny little pinkish looking humanoid... Is that really from you? Wow ~ the moment sinks in... You are a parent!  Every little sound, movement is amazing... we watch and encourage them to talk then soon we are teaching them to walk. Each wobbly step is so amazing, each mmmaaaa... is encouraged with your face close to theirs a smile emerges... sending you into euphoria of emotions. Everyone you have a phone number for is soon informed they talked and said my name! Amazing for a one-month old... (Not that plumber even remembers you from the time he fixed your cousins sink, but he wishes you well anyways, He is a Dad after all).
A year has passed ~ many poopy diapers latter. Maybe a cold that scared the new parents into a 3am visit to the local ER. They are learning to walk, time to baby proof everything. Including friends & grandparents homes, if not already done. After all they have not had kids in ages, right!? Soon the walk is a full out run from one danger to another... OMG what did they just put in their mouth? "Ffew", it was only cat food... Now you have discovered that if it can be touched it can be put into their little mouths... and come out slimmed. (They forgot to tell you about the 'ghost buster slime' effect in those oh-so-long-ago parenting/labor and delivery classes.)
Time passes less sleep that tinny little one is now 3x's their original size - you pray "God just don't let them keep growing at this rate, or we will have a giant on our hands. OMG what will the diapers look like?” Still they are always learning and you are continually learning to 'keep up' with their never ending energy. Nap time, how can an angle get soo dirty? As they sleep you watch, not moving a muscle trying to not even breath. You’re exhausted all you can think is please don't wake up yet... They twitch, you catch your breath ~ another WOW moment happens... they are part of you~ so adorable as they sleep, a cherub here in your own home. After hours of play the day winds down, that little one crawls up onto your lap with their favorite blanky and a book. Looks up at you with those huge beautiful eyes, you read them a book as they sit quietly snuggled into your arms. Your baby!

Now years latter (only 5 or 6) they are awake with the sun for their first day of school. After all they are a 'big' girl or boy, and ready to go. You stand outside the classroom a moment wondering what life will bring as you entrust them to the hands of a 'licensed' teacher/caregiver. So many questions swarm your brain those first few days. Soon your dropping them off at the front door to the school... they have mastered the hall-ways and know every inch of 'their' school. Bye you yell as they run to their friends all waiting in a group... not even a head turns as an arm waves bye back.

The phone rings... it is for them, not you. Soon you don't even reach for the receiver; after all they will have gotten it by the time you even have realized it rang. You ask who it is ~ just for the sake of it. The 'look' you get is one of 'come-on Mom' like it has ever been 'your phone' in the first place. You realize you are just the one who is there to pay the bills. You pause a moment debating making a comment. But the door has been shut and you’re in the hallway alone... listening to the muffled giggles coming from inside the bedroom as they incoherently talk, giggle and yell through the new found communication system. Later that evening your 'little angel' comes down, cuddles up next to you on the couch resting there head on your shoulder... you cherish this moment as you know it may just be the last for a while. The teen years are pressing down fast, and all you want to do is hold them as you did such a long time ago. Later that evening you sneak into their room - trying not to breathe or make any sound. You just look - watch them sleep... your 'little angle' is still there. Sure the room has changed no more baby toys, even the pictures are different. No longer soft pastels -- posters of the latest 'pop star' is hung up crookedly on the wall with tape, their own doing. An iPod lays on the floor along with the contents of their backpack, dirty cloths mixed with the clean ones you asked them to put away... really does it matter. They resemble that little humanoid you carried home oh so many years ago.

Tomorrow brings friends, music and lots of food as they have asked to have a 'party' at the house. You agreed, after all better in your sight than 'who knows where'. You overhear them talking about 'boys' (or girls) and your brain screams nooooo your too young! You resist the urge to rush in and 'tell them' to wait until their older, only a small amount of self-control prevents you. Latter you 'have the talk' about dating & life, the 'angle' looks on mortified at you, yet they listen (really they do). A few days later a question or two pops out when you’re alone in the car, driving to yet another after-school activity. You chat trying with every ounce of self-control to stay calm and pick the right words... you mind races, what do I say? Just enough information... is it too much? Then they switch the conversation to what someone did at lunch today. You sigh did they even listen? Yes ~ No, you pray they did... again they are running to their friends all huddled in a group laughing not even noticing your wave. You drive home and realize it is actually quiet without them there, you nap.

Another few years pass - you have both survived. (Barely some days... you chuckle at your own thought about lobbying for 'child abuse laws' and having wanted to bop them in the nose yourself, At the time wishing it would have been legal.) Still the homework did finally get done, the dating was safe and they never even noticed you in the back of the theater watching. Their 'questionable' friends turned out to be really nice, even with the pink hair and a few extra piercings. The day you have waited for is here... graduation. They did it they passed high school, they now are adults. Or so they say ~ you know better, after all your debating if you even know what that word means (Adult).

The visits from college with the big bags of dirty laundry are over, the asking for a few bucks towards gas are far and few between... Now you offer and they actually say no they are ok. By the way have I mentioned 'so and so'?  They bring the 'friend' home to meet you. They are nice - but not good enough for your child... or are they. You wonder, you look over your now quiet home. Remembering the crayon marks all over the new furniture - How you were so mad, now it makes you laugh. The nights staying up with the flu - you both survived. The first friend, the first dance, love, heartache... gone, done just a memory.

Still you are the parent and that will never change - no matter what the age, where they are, or where they go.  You still sneak into the guest-bedroom to see their baby sleeping, wow another little angel in your home. Even if it is for only a few days... If only they knew!

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