Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Growing Pains

I took my kid...ahem, 18 year old daughter, Jessica, to the doctor today and my heart hurts.  This was her first visit to the doctor since turning 18 and needed to have her college physical complete since she leaves in a few short months to go away to school. 

As we discussed at home her doctor's visit, it occurred to her to mention to me that I was not needed in the exam room.  At all.  My eighteen year old daughter has never gone to the doctor's exam room without me.  Ever.  Never ever.  I said that was fine, but secretly thought to myself that she was just testing the waters.  Certainly, we would arrive to the doctor's office and she would look at me as she got up and say, "Come on, Mom."  Wouldn't she?

After arriving at the office, they handed Jessica a clipboard of information to complete and she filled it out all by herself.  She only had to ask me for help four times. 

Then it happened.  That moment where every minute of my daughter's eighteen years flashed in front of my eyes.  You know those commercials where the five year old daughter is asking her dad for the keys to the car and then suddenly she's grown?  Yeah, it was just like that.  I had a pang of maternal angst and in a doctor's office of all places because instead of my daughter getting up and saying, "Come on, Mom", she said, "I'll see ya later, Mom" and when I said, "Are you sure you don't need me?" she said "Yeah, I'm sure".  And then the nurse looked at me, smiled and closed the door.  She may as well have been closing a vault. 

I don't know if this is normal.  But I felt locked out.  Locked out of an aspect of my daughter's life that I had always been a part of until now.

I kept looking at the door hopefully, thinking she may change her mind and decide her mother needed to be there. 

The door opened and a nurse called out my name.  "Carie? Carie?"  My heart leapt with joy and I leapt out of my chair calling, "Right here!"  I gathered my bag, smiling.  She does need me, she does!  Then the nurse looked at me funny and said, "Carie?  1983?"  I sat down slowly, disappointed.  It was some other Carrie or Kari.  Not me, Carie,  1971.  It wasn't me and I still wasn't needed in there. 

I felt my eyes well up with tears.  I tried to bury my nose in my novel so that nobody would see me cry but even a good book could not provide an escape to the reality that stood before me.  This moment is just one of many where I will stare at a door closed to me because the matter at hand occurring on the other side is no longer is mine to take care of. 

This was a totally unexpected emotion that completely caught me off guard. It was a sign of the times.  It was a preview of what is to come.  It was a nudge to begin to let go of some things.  It was bittersweet.

This was Jessica's first true exercise of taking care of business without me.  A first opportunity to test the waters as a young adult without the requirement of parental supervision but with Mom still very close by. 

I know this is natural.  I know it's supposed to hurt a little.  I am trying to accept that.   I just need to adjust my vision because in moments like these, when I look at Jessica, all I see is a five year old's face who still needs her mommy at the doctor's office.  These growing pains are all mine.


  1. I truly relate, Carie. It is hard to see them grow up. However, the up side is that it brings you closer to grown children who will, Lord willing, give you the great gift of grandbabies!!!

  2. Thanks for that reminder, Gail! My husband said something similar tonight. God is good like that!