Last Thursday I woke up to an early morning nudge from a bright-eyed 17-year-old, "Come on Mom, let's go!"
I would be lying if I didn't admit there was a twinge of sass in her unconventional wake-up call. I don't claim to have the best teenager in the world -- she certainly has her moments of teenage angst and overemotional extremes because "OMG look at my hair" somehow translates into WW3 -- but I can say without a doubt that my daughter is certainly the best thing to have ever happened in my life. (Even though she has somehow found a way to seep the phrases Holla, OMG, WTH, and LOL into my daily vernacular!)
Taking her to school last week to start her senior year was kind of an emotional day for me. In the midst of throwing on some clothes after just three hours of sleep -- thank God I'm not a reality show with cameras that follow me around -- I realized this would be the last time I'd experience her "first day of school." I cannot believe how quickly the years have gone by ...
When I was pregnant, I was only 19. Full of dreams to go off to college and pursue a career in X-Y-Z, I was determined to rule the world. But when I found out I was going to have a baby, my plans of course, got sidetracked. Coming from a strict Filipino heritage, the news that I was going to be a single-parent mom was quite shocking and disappointing for my parents. To be honest, they couldn't bear to look me in the eye for quite some time. Having a baby out of wedlock, just wasn't something you do as a promising young Filipino girl with a Catholic upbringing.
My parents had worked their tails off to make sure my brother and I were raised with all we needed to succeed in life, so hearing that their eldest daughter was with child simply wasn't in "the plan." But with prayer and lots of comforting words and support from our closest family and friends, they accepted the fate that I was going to be a young, single parent mom.
The day I brought my little girl home was surreal, especially for a young woman whose most dire decision of the day usually consisted of "what am I going to order from Taco Bell?" In a blink, my happy go lucky life was no longer mine. And instead it became a whirlwind of diapers, onesies, diaper rash and breastfeeding -- a world that was beyond me. Life would simply never be the same again. Ever.
Over the course of the next few years, I truly learned what it meant to be a struggling single mom. My high school sweetheart turned out not to be so sweet, and I was left grappling with the challenges of raising a young child while also trying finish up college and going to work. Thankfully, my once very disappointed parents, no longer perceived my path as a mistake. In fact, since the day I brought my baby girl home from the hospital, she became their everything. Till this day I know I could never have raised my daughter without the support and love of my parents, my brother and my family. I am so very grateful to be able to come from such a close-knit family who provided me with that "village" needed to raise a child.
Being a single parent is no doubt challenging, because no matter how busy or crazy your life becomes, the bottom line is ... things still need to get done regardless of how overloaded that plate is you carry. And most importantly, your child's needs always come first. But through the years of being mom+dad, college student, working woman, etc., I have come to realize that I am up for any challenge ... even if it requires dragging a sniffling 4-year-old to lecture hall at USC with a bag full of her coloring books, juice boxes and cookies in tow. Yep, I was that girl, much to the dismay and disapproval of many a pretty Troy sorority girls -- but hey, a mom's gotta do, what a mom's gotta do. And I will never make apologies for that. Can I get an Amen, moms and dads?
Being a parent has not only challenged me to be my "best self," my child has also become my biggest cheerleader and supporter ... even when she decides to give me a blunt reality check with the words, "OMG Mom, what the heck are you doing? You are so crazy!" -- yep happens more often than I care to admit *wink*
All that said, I truly cannot believe her formal years of education are almost over. The years of ...
- taking her to Kumon class
- late nights helping her with projects (P.S. I confess, some of those projects I took wwaaaayyyy to seriously. Case in point, my question to her would be, "So what grade did WE get?" And you better believe I was offended if it wasn't an A+!!!)
- editing her essays and papers to the point where she didn't even want to show me her work (What? It's in the job description!), and
- never-ending trips to Target for school supplies (my daughter has a serious addiction for mechanical pencils ... and gum.)
I still cannot believe my baby girl is senior and it amazes me every day to see the bright young lady she has become. It seems like it was yesterday, when I was the one going to Artesia High School with too much hairspray in my hair and a ridiculous amount of attitude in my walk. And now, it's her waltzing outta the house wearing the cardigan and earrings I told her she could NOT borrow ... yep, every day occurence folks. (Those with daughters, be warned!) But even then, I plan on cherishing all the moments that my teenager tests my patience, including the times when I want to pull my hair out -- which by the way no longer has too much hairspray in it, thank you very much :)
So here's to a wonderful school year for all your kiddos! May you as parents enjoy every moment that this school year brings ... even when you find yourself up at 1 a.m. helping them with a project that's due tomorrow, even though it was assigned a month ago. HA!
How do you deal with the feeling that your children are growing up way too fast? Is there any special way you preserve childhood memories -- A scrapbook? A journal? Photo albums? Video? A blog? Please share your ideas with me!!