My daughter spent the late hours of September 11th, 2010 down at ground zero in New York City. I am so glad she was there. It was coincidence, really, that her first big-girl trip to spend a few days with my sister and her first time in NYC happened to fall out on 9/11. But, you see, my baby girl is 9.5, which, if you are playing the math at home, means that she was just sixth months old when her mommy was watching Regis and Kelly when she heard the news of the twin towers being hit. Emily was so wee at the time; just a little ball of mush. She had no clue what was happening that day, other than the fact that her mommy was glued to the tv all day and *may* have forgotten to feed her some rice cereal. But now, nine years later, Emily understands. She understands more than the average fourth grader. And even though it’s killing me that she is away from me, even for just three days, there’s nowhere else I’d rather her be this week.
How is it, though, that I’m the mother of a child that I can send to go do grown-up things in a grown-up city with her grown-up aunt?
It’s funny, though, how things have changed. I mean, my parents divorced when I was young, and I don’t remember a time when my sister and I weren’t flying ALONE on the short-haul flight between Milwaukee and Atlanta. And it was no big deal. Back when traveling was easy and we didn’t have to take off our shoes to go through security and your liquids didn’t have to fit neatly into 3.4oz containers. Back when I wore giant purple bows and giant braces. (collective OY)
Traveling alone was nothing more than slapping some Delta wings on me and giving me a free coke and some peanuts.
It’s amazing how the world has changed.
I remember, as a kid of no more than Emily’s age, leaving my mom’s house on my bike (without a helmet, of course) and not returning until well after dark. And that was totally normal. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m probably one of the least helicopter-y of the moms I know, and I’m still, all, well,Â you can walk across the street to get the mail, but I am still going to watch you from the porch and I want you to turn around and wave at me once you’ve looked both ways no less than three times and gotten safely to the other side of the street. And even then I kind of feel uneasy.
But it’s weird. It’s not that I worry for their immediate physical safety. I KNOW she’s fine to go and get the mail. And I KNOW she’s fine to go and spend time with my sister in New York. And I even know she’s fine to be left alone for 8 minutes while I drive Josh over to a friend’s house.
It’s more this.
With every single day that passes, my baby bird is growing stronger wings. And sooner rather than later she will no longer need ME. She will grow up and be independent. In just over two years from now, my daughter will legally be able to babysit other peoples’ children. This independence thing scares me. As much as I want her (and her brother and sister after her) to spread her wings and learn to fly (and ohmigod, I am overusing this metaphor) and be this responsible person in her own right, I don’t want her to not need me.
Some days, I just want her to be that little six-month-old baby who needs me to feed her her next meal of rice cereal.
Not that almost-teenager who is out seeing West Side Story on Broadway and shopping at Macy’s.