Oh WOW: our baby just turned 18 years old

April 2 2013 | Guest post by Leah
Our daughter as a baby. Photos by Leah.

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.

Holy shit.

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!

  1. Congratulations to all of you! Huge milestone.

    Reading this brought me to tears because I'm a couple days away from my daughter's first birthday. Hopefully all the birthdays in between are a little less emotional!

    • All of them are emotional! Haha! As much as I want to say that they get easier, they don't. The birthdays get more exciting and more expensive but not any less of a freak out; for me at least. The one thing I say to myself is that these milestones are exciting. Not only for me, to see her growing up, but for her! She's living and succeeding. She makes goals and meets them. That's a good feeling. 🙂 Congrats on your first birthday! Enjoy them all!

  2. I remember when I turned 18. (like 17 years ago!) It was only the begining of my senior year in high school, so I still felt like a kid. I remember getting an "ick" feeling when someone said that I was now considered a woman. NOooo! It sounds so OLD to be called a WOMAN! ha!

    • I completely hear you on that. I graduated high school at 16, pregnant with the now 18 year old. It took quite some time to realize how grown up I was supposed to be. Our youngest daughter is turning 11 in August. When we call her young lady, she disagrees vehemently!!

  3. "Like dealing with a brand new baby adult" Yes, I really like the way you put that. My nephew's about to turn 18 and I've been thinking about my own journey to and through adulthood in comparison, and how at 18, it's really just the beginning of figuring it all out.

    • It really is! For most of her teenage years, she counted down to this moment. Plus, as parents, we often have these 'first' moments. Just think about all the firsts that are going to happen now!

  4. I loved this. My one and only son is turning three this month, so I am far from this party. But I can imagine every emotion you are feeling. It must be something magical (albeit anxiety-rich) to watch the paths they choose for themselves.

  5. What a great post! My son is 18 months old and I can't imagine him going to preschool let alone turning 18. Yet I know, the time is going to fly. Your post reminds me to live in the moment as much as possible.

  6. My son turned 21 two weeks ago..your right..a baby adult. I often say parenting REALLY started after 18 ..life..living..they still need you, sometimes more than ever. They actually start to have their own thoughts..beliefs and damn it if they are't exactly the same as yours..what? mind of your own? who taught you that? Oh yea, I did …Hold on..things are about to get really interesting…and fun. LOVE LOVE love my baby boy 🙂

  7. My oldest is turning 20 this year. Although there are moments of absolute terror, for the most part I just sit back and marvel at what a wonderful human being he is. It is heartbreaking when the inevitable 'face plants' happen, but you do your best to guide them through and cry your guts out when they're not looking.

  8. Exactly!! Enjoy the ride but hold on because there are bound to be some bumps! I have this friend who freaks out at every turn. 'My daughter just turned 7! Time, SLOW DOWN!' I feel like she's not embracing the very real fact that time doesn't slow down. In my opinion, I think people should celebrate those moments, be excited for what is to come! The kiddos and parents alike have survived to begin a new journey!

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