Our oldest child turned 18 years old on St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m not sure if that’s sunk in or not to my wife, our daughter, or myself. She’s an adult.
Interestingly enough, in the few months leading up to her birthday, we were quite calm. People would ask “Are you totally freaking out?” and no, we weren’t. I wasn’t at least. But when our daughter announced one morning, “30 days until I’m 18!” I remember thinking, “No, we aren’t there yet. There is no count down happening.”
But it was. Still, I was okay.
Cue shopping for the birthday dinner — we’re at the store, looking at birthday cards. I pick one up at random and as I’m reading, I start bawling right in the middle of the card aisle. Full tears were streaming down my face. It suddenly was very real that my baby girl was crossing the line into adulthood.
From now on, life was going to be vastly altered. It felt like we were getting ready to jump but had no idea where we were going to land. Did anyone else feel that when their own children crossed that line? Why was this achievement different from any of the others?
Like all other milestones in our children’s lives, this one is thrilling. It’s like a whole new world is now available to her.
She can VOTE! She can get tattoos! In fact, three days after her birthday, she did exactly that! She can get married! Yikes! Worse, get arrested! Double yikes! At any time, she can move out! Whoa! We can say goodbye to the child tax credit. Ha!
Now that I think about it, there’s a whole new world available to the rest of us, too. Like dealing with a brand new baby adult. She wants to make all the decisions about her life, herself with no regard for asking for permission. She wants to do whatever she wants for the first time in her life without the need for approval. She wants to run free in the wind and have no strings holding her down! (!!!)
I get that. It’s the freedom that comes with being 18. It’s the thinking of “I’m not a kid anymore, yes! My parents are not the bosses of me and I am in charge!” Yet, the lesson to be learned is that with freedom comes responsibility. One miscalculated step and you are on your way to becoming a shit creek survivor.
I’m hoping she has grasped the knowledge that she will never stop learning — that she will always be our baby girl. That she will forever have a place in our hearts and in our home. No matter what. I hope we have taught her that mistakes will happen but to learn from them is vital. That stepping out on your own does not need to happen in haste but that she will know when the time is right. That will be a frightening time for all of us, perhaps even a little sad, especially for her little sister. But we are the Fab Four and always will be. We can encounter anything and make it out not only alive, but thriving.
Cheers to our baby girl, on becoming an adult! There are endless possibilities in store for her. We hope she enjoys the ride!
And congratulations to us! Our baby is 18!