By Carol Ewig
The message comes from my older daughter in pieces, like most of her texts.
Weather is supposed to be in the 60’s next week! Spring weather for spring baby!
And a little later:
Thinking that as long as I’m not in labor, you could come out to take a walk!
Of course, I jump on the invitation, just as I have whenever my two busy, 30-plus-year-old daughters reach out. Since I’m now retired, it’s even easier to do, barring doctors’ appointments, and since it’s pandemic times, I have no other plans other than an occasional Zoom.
But this visit is very different.
This mid-week invitation is happening while my daughter is off from work for two weeks or less, during the part of her maternity leave that doesn’t yet involve the demands of an infant.
She is quite aware of how her life is about to change. As a physician with clinic and hospital responsibilities, she hasn’t yet been rushing home to care for a baby. If she doesn’t get a good night’s sleep, she can close her eyes for a few minutes when she gets home without guilt. She can finish patient charts after dinner, with still some time to relax. And, in the morning, she can get up at a reasonable time to see her patients without everything that comes with preparing a baby for the day.
She’s a little worried—okay, more than a little—about how she’ll be able to handle it all. She’s worried about sleep—always something she needs plenty of, ever since she was a baby. She sees a number of her friends handling it all—many also physicians, as well as other professionals—and knows it is possible. And yet she still can’t quite understand how she’ll actually do it.
Another text comes in:
Work will never be the same again.
And, when I remind her that the rest of her life won’t be either—as she well knows—there’s another:
Yes. I am mourning that a little bit while being excited and semi-ready.
It’s the same with me, but for a different reason.
I know the relationship between me and my daughter—which has always been very close and strong—will never be the same again, either. That’s the simple truth. I know she will come to me for advice and tell me stories about her day, to try to understand her life and feelings with me and through me. But there will be someone else on whom she will laser focused, and that someone will need her in a primal way.
That someone will be connected to her the same way that my daughter is connected to me, of course. Because of that, I know that she will look forward, not back, as her new life begins. And that is all as it should be.
It’s been a long, long time since my daughter was that attached to me. She is nearly 35 years old, well traveled and with a career, a husband, and a home, after many years in different cities and living situations. She is very independent in many ways. And I might add, I have occasionally patted myself on the back for this, grateful that she and her sister turned out to be the strong feminists, independent thinkers, and good people I hoped they’d be.
And yet, there is that connection between us. Like those texts, inviting me to a couple of hours’ walk through the streets of Philadelphia as mother and daughter, before my daughter becomes a mother herself.
It’s not just because of the weather that she invited me. She knows what’s coming.
Still, I’m a little sad, even as I am so very joyful as I prepare to watch her take these first baby steps. I’m mourning the loss of the particular relationship we’ve had, even as I prepare, with full and unconditional joy, to be Grandy to the baby girl she is carrying, and the mother she needs to the mother she will be.
Carol Ewig is a retired middle school language arts teacher. Her daughter had her baby and since everyone in the family is now vaccinated, she feels grateful to be visiting her family frequently; she will be helping to watch her new granddaughter when her daughter returns to work in June. Read more of her writing on her blog, teaching-365.com.
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