Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wibbily Wobbily Timey Wimey...Stuff: My First Baby Turned 18 and I Didn't Think I'd Cry at All

September 30, 2014 2:00 am
I finished the TARDIS cake I set out to make for a surprise for Charlotte's 18th birthday! The metallic blue frosting I found for it is mesmerizing. It looks even better in person. It shimmers. As I sat up frosting the cake at midnight I thought about how nonchalant I'm taking my first baby turning 18. I thought it was because I have so many children, I figure it is so less jarring because I am still in the thicket of babies and kids. I am also proud of myself: I had a baby, I was a young mother, and I did nothing but put her first for 18 years. I set out to raise her to be the best she can be to herself and to others. I also tried to raise her to stand up for herself when needed. As a mom I set out to make really sure she never got hurt. Children get hurt a lot in our society, and nobody seems to be doing anything about epidemic rates of abuse in children. I am amazed I raised a whole entire human being: I grew her, I kept her, I nurtured her. I wanted to nurture her soul and feed her body well, and I did. I will love her always. She's mine, but not really mine. Her DNA is a part of me. (See Mother & Child Are Linked At The Cellular Level)

I have never watched even one episode of Doctor Who. I don't watch hardly any TV. I am merely a guest amongst the chitter-chatter about Doctor Who in my house. I am totally in the dark but it's fun to hear them talk. I ask questions and they very eagerly explain. To my children's absolute uproarious laughter I mixed the two up and called The Dalek the TARDIS once. (I also called Dobby from Harry Potter 'Dobby the Shelf Elf' instead of the house-elf. My kids laugh so hard.)
Sitting there looking at the TARDIS cake in the middle of the night I suddenly acknowledged that it was a time machine and not just a blue rectangle that I was painstakingly painting in with frosting. Thoughts of space and time filled my head. Tears started to fall when I thought to myself how fitting making a TARDIS was for her 18th birthday. If I could just go back in time to hold baby Charlotte: to smell her baby head, to dress her, to picnic with her in her pop-up school bus like we used to do every day when she was two, or to see her whole head get braided on the beach in Mexico at eight and watch her freely run into the ocean.
Pop-up school bus lunch time
Young moms can be great moms and I am proof

Charlotte's First Birthday
 When she was a baby and toddler I spent countless nights promising myself to never forget her smell, her skin, her soft breath next to me. I rocked her sweetly and she slept in my room exclusively. I remember every single morning I couldn't wait for her eyes meet up with mine. I know mothering doesn't always come as naturally or as easily for some moms, but it did for me. I just loved it so much and so instantly. By night I watched her sleep, by day we picnicked, laughed, and I pushed her on swings. We went for lots of walks. We talked about having farm animals someday. We read books and literally laid under the blue sky and watched clouds roll by. I stayed home with her to suck up as much as I could. I realize now I stayed home with her as much for me as I did for her. I knew it was fleeting. Those little: newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kids. Those little hands that grab yours, and their small, heart-shaped, red-lipped mouths. The way their laughter fills the air with joy. There are endless funny things they say and so many amazing questions they ask. I love watching eyes full of first-time wonder. Kids make life make sense. I learn so much about myself by raising kids. Raising kids makes me a better person and I know Ricky feels the same. It makes me set a higher standard for myself and it makes me aware of what really matters. Even through the growing pains of childhood tears, fits, and tantrums, there are surprising rewards that come from the hard times. It sometimes seems endless but even those hard times are so full of purpose, too. If we get too caught up in how hard parenting is we could very easily miss watching them learn about things like: love, empathy, time management, communication, the world around them, and self control. There were some sleepless nights and endless messes... but they don't last. They do end.

Babies and children grow from each stage and you remember who they once were... but they change so much as they literally morph into new people. The person they were outgrows them, and sometimes we feel it as it hits us hard right in the middle of our chest. I realize now it is because that baby or child is gone. They will never be again. We miss it and it makes us sad inside. It's a weird kind of sad though. It's an amazing sad. An uplifting sad. The tears I shed are of joy, loss, pride, and growth all rolled into one. I find my breath is taken away with awe, and when I inhale again I'm filled with so much gratitude. I can't even explain how it crushes me and completes me all at once. It's overwhelming and beautiful.

I moved from the table where I was frosting the cake so I wouldn't sob all over it. I crept through the still house and found Ricky reading in bed. Ricky asked me what was wrong as the tears started to fall, I could not explain, I could only softly cry. He wrapped his arms around me tightly because he knew and I mourned for that baby girl who is now all grown up.
In the morning I wrote this:
She turned 18 today! Happy Birthday to the beautiful young woman I raised! I am so proud of us both, we did great. I love you Charlotte.

Oh, and She LOVED her cake. I'm a very happy momma.

1 comment:

Kathryn Armstrong said...

Shauna! How is this child 18?! She was only barely 4 when I started reading your livejournal. Wow. She is beautiful, as are all of your kids! I come peek at your blog still now and then. Much love!

dustspeck (kathryn) from LJ

Kathryn Armstrong