When Your Babies Aren’t Babies Anymore

It’s Magical Monday here at the olde blogge and I’ve brewed up a cup of Scottish Breakfast tea with a touch of milk and honey because I’m feeling nostalgic and reminiscing about when my sweet baby girl was just that – a baby.

Parenting is hard. Parenting is awesome. Parenting is a dichotomy wrapped up in a conundrum and I’m still trying to figure it out. Especially with my oldest.

Alexzandra is twenty and amazing in more ways than I can count. She’s talented and quirky and she embraces life with such exuberance I lose sleep most nights. As an example, these are two quotes taken from her facebook wall:

Got hit by a car today on my bicycle! Lol…

and this little gem:

And today I stopped a guy from beating up this girl near my house. Yaaayy…


Now, what’s a Mom to do with this information especially when she’s so far away? Last month my baby girl moved back to San Francisco, a city she adores. She’s going to school and has a part time job with a preschool teaching kids yoga, which is perfect for her.Β While I understand why she needs to be in San Francisco and her desire to make her own way in life, I wish she was closer. Because she’s my baby even though she’s not a baby anymore.

Alexzandra was my first true love. Before her, I had deep commitment issues and she taught me how to love someone unconditionally and gave me courage to open my heart and allow others in. It’s incredible what children can teach adults. If not for Alexzandra, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to accept someone’s love and stay committed to them. Alexzandra showed me that loving someone is scary, but worth the risk.

Alexzandra and I were always close. I would refer to her as mini-me because we had similar styles and temperaments. Which was great until she started wanting to be her own person and I selfishly clung to the little girl she no longer was. At seventeen, she moved to San Francisco to be on her own. I was terrified for her and a little bitter that she left me. Selfish, I know.

I missed the closeness we had when she was younger. I longed for the days when we’d play together or shop and talk for hours. She was a young woman and didn’t need me as much. I kept trying to make myself indispensable and in the process made myself miserable.

She moved back to San Diego after a year away and we were able to forge a new relationship, but it took work on both our parts. I had to back off and give her freedom to make her own mistakes and she had to understand that I’m a MOM and I don’t get days off. You never retire from being a parent. I’ll be ninety-seven and I’ll still call her to make sure she’s eating enough.

And those facebook posts? I’ll worry about her and then deep inside I’ll be damn proud of the woman she’s becoming. She’s like me in so many ways and yet she’s completely her own person. And apparently, she’s kind of a badass.

Still, she’s my sweet baby girl and every time I hear Coldplay’s Fix You I can’t help but think of Alexzandra.

Sometimes I forget to tell Alexzandra this, but to me, she’s F*ckin Perfect. Thank you, Pink for summing it up so eloquently. The video’s a little harsh, but I love the words.

How about you? Have you ever learned about something important from a facebook post or Twitter update? Are there any songs that make you misty-eyed each time you hear them or make you think of a certain someone? Have your babies grown up and left for places unknown? Do you still worry about them?


38 thoughts on “When Your Babies Aren’t Babies Anymore

  1. Your story brought tears to my eyes. It’s easy to think you have forever when they’re little and then suddenly, my son is 6’4″ and I have to reach up to tousle his hair and my daughter is 19 and planning to study in Italy. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? Our job is to give them the confidence and wings to soar on their own – and when they do, we lose a little piece of ourselves because part of our heart is always with them. Beautiful post.

    • Oh, Ruth, you brought tears to my eyes as well! Exactly – when they grow up and fly solo, a part of us does stay with them. I can’t even imagine when my son will be 6’4″ because he’s still shorter than me (not for long!) and just barely a teenager. Makes it a little easier having one still in the house.

  2. Beautiful post Tameri. I am not a Mom and cannot begin to imagine the joy, pleasure, and pain that comes from parenting. You sound like a GREAT Mom and you are lucky to have one another. I know already that as the years move forward, you will only grow closer and closer again. We daughters always need and want our Mom’s (even if we don’t say it outloud!). And as we get older, we really do figure it out – that y’all were right all along and y’all knew everything!
    I don’t know how many times as an adult I’ve called my mom to apologies for the trouble I caused her and to acknowledge that my god…she really did/does know what she’s talking about!

    • Thanks Natalie. There were times when I didn’t think I was very good at mothering, but as the years pass and I see what great kids I have, I have to give myself a little credit. It’s hard, though.

      I love your relationship with your mom and I’m sure she appreciates those phone calls!

  3. My babies are indeed grown up and both still living in England so I miss them lots. And I use Facebook to keep in touch as well as the telephone because it’s so nice to see the pictures. My daughter Joanne is 28 and very much her own woman. And my son Ian is 25 and I still try to mother him too much. Just seeing the way they are on Facebook and how they interact with people – and how people like them because of the awesome people they are – gives me such a feeling of pride and love. I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying, even though I know deep down they’ll be fine.

    I love those songs. Particularly the Pink one.

  4. Aw, Cheryl, I know what you mean. FB allows us to stay closer, but not close enough. But, you get to visit them in England, don’t you?

    Mothers never stop mothering. It’s in the job description. ; )

  5. Loved your relationship with your daughter. It has been my experience that you have to let them go and fly free before they can be close again. They need to know they can fly by themselves before they can appreciate their mothers. All we can do is love them and be there in case of emergencies.

    I embarrassed my 40+ year old, 6’4″, 230+ lb son last winter. During one of the snow storms that hit here and at his home, I called, got voice mail. He didn’t return the call. He always calls back. I called again the next day and the next. Still no answer. I called where he worked and they hadn’t seen him in a couple of days. I called his friend who called the police to go by his house and check on him. He was okay. He had lost his phone and was waiting for a replacement. He stayed home due to the snow covering the ground.

    • You’re exactly right. Although, it is nice to get calls that aren’t just for emergencies.

      I would’ve freaked and called the police too! If I don’t hear from my daughter for a few days, I panic and start calling her friends. She’s learned to return my calls or texts. It’s way too embarrassing to have your mom call your friends.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Glad your son was okay. Does he return your calls now? ; )

      • Oh, yes. He’s afraid not to. Although he really had lost his phone. He received the replacement phone that same day and immediately called me.

        I told him he should let me know (via email) if he’s lost his phone so I don’t call the police myself. He thinks I’m funny. Although he did tell me that he’d seen me when confronting a bad situation and he never wanted to get on my bad side.

  6. Linda – HA HA, my son’s only 18 and in college, but I’d TOTALLY track him down if I couldn’t reach him for a couple of days! Embarrassment? Pfft, it’s nothing compared to a mom’s peace of mind.
    Tam – Your post is becoming so true for me. Marcus is in his 2nd year at CSULB; it’s only 30 minutes from our house but I feel like I’m hanging on by a mere thread on my apron strings. He’s got a car now, so the only thing he really NEEDS to contact us about is when his bank account is running dry. So far, we have a great relationship, probably a better one than if he’d been a daughter (long story, we’ll leave it alone). I’m now hoping I don’t suddenly turn all clingy and end up pushing him away. I just keep reminding myself of what it was like to be out on my own. My life was full of adventure and sometimes calling my folks just wasn’t feasible, either because I was busy or I was in the middle of something I didn’t want to discuss.

    BTW, Looking forward to SCWC!

    • Gayle, do you ever think about when he gets married and you’ll be the Mother-In-Law? I think of that with my son. Will I get all freaky and think the girl isn’t good enough, you know, stuff like that. I’m sure he’ll find a perfectly nice girl to marry, but he’s not just my only son, he’s my baby. Talk about getting clingy.

      Marcus is an amazing kid. I’m sure you could never push him away.

      • Yeah, I confess to some worry about the DiL thing. Marcus has had a “girlfriend” since his junior year in high school. I use the quotes because she’s dumped him twice and I just don’t know what their status is now (he’s single on Facebook).

        She’s nice enough – I don’t know whether I’m being too picky or wisely cautious. She’s really needy, has a lot of emotional problems, and my son looks like he’s being a caregiver, a teacher, a role model… things you shouldn’t be doing in an equal partnership. I watch him with other girls where there’s a lot of give and take and think, “Like this! This is the kind of girl you should find!” But I keep my mouth shut. He already knows I’m not ecstatic about the GF, and she’s afraid of me. Is it wrong to be happy about that?

        She’s enrolled at UC Davis, so I’m hoping the distance will make the whole thing a wistful high school memory.

    • Aw, that’s a beautiful spelling of her name! When the day comes, you’ll cry and be proud at the same time. It’s the hardest part of parenting – letting go and trusting. Yourself and them. It takes a lot of courage to let them fly free.

  7. Looks like you’ve done a great job raising such a wonderful, strong young woman. My own two kids are still at home, showing no desire to leave the nest.

    Love your writing style!

  8. Beautiful Tameri, you’ve written a post for all mothers. As you say, it’s difficult at times to accept that our babies are grown and there is a place in our hearts where they will be our babies forever. Then the time comes when your babies start having babies! Major paradigm shift! They suddenly realize we knew what we were talking about all along and grandchildren think grandparents are awesome. It’s so much fun!
    Linda – I laughed out loud at you tracking down your grown son! I can relate.
    Natalie – I love hearing you talk about your relationship with your mom too. Special …

    • Patricia, I tell my kids that I’m looking forward to being a Grandma so I can sugar ’em up and send ’em home! Both kids have told me they won’t be having children of their own. Because I scare them. Hahaha, we’ll see.

  9. What a beautifully written post, Tameri. Oh, motherhood — a thousand words wouldn’t even describe a small bit of what it really is. My children changed my world, changed me, changed my past, present and future. I can’t imagine life without them now. They are still very young and we have a long way to go until they are on their own. I embrace every moment of our lives – those good and those not so great as well πŸ™‚

    • Children have a way of changing things and I like to think it’s always for the better. I adored mine when they were young and that feeling only grows with them each year. I can’t pick a favorite age because they are all so special.

      At least yours are still little and you can snuggle with them. I miss snuggle time (when they get to be teenagers, for some reason snuggling isn’t cool anymore. What’s up with that?) : )

  10. I’m not a mom just yet, but this is a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the songs you added at the end too. There are certain songs that will always connect me to certain people as well. Songs that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to them without imagining that person.

    On a happy note, I’m passing along The Versatile Blogger award to you because I love your blog! For more information you can go here: http://quidforquill.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/first-blog-award/

    • Hey Lissa,

      Thanks for stopping by! Can I just say how much I love the name of your blog? A Versatile Blogger award? For me? I’m blushing!

      Thank you so much, Lissa. I will definitely do you and the award proud!

  11. Well I’m a newbie mom here but I am already thinking about my boys even just getting to that age where they don’t need mom anymore. Right now they are 4 yo and 4 months and drive me nuts sometimes, but I just have to remember to appreciate this while I have it. ps-For any other moms out there with kids still at home, this Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/) has great tips especially since Halloween is coming up…

    • Sahmjs,

      Enjoy every minute with them right now, because in the blink of any eye they’ll be moving out and leaving cryptic FB posts! I swear, Alexzandra was just a toddler last week.

      Thanks for the great link. I always tell me kids, ‘only take care of the ones you want to keep’.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  12. From the other end of the spectrum, I watch my daughters and learn. Our three live in Texas, San Francisco, and Juneau Alaska. Currently, the San Francisco daughter is sitting with me on our back deck, home for a three day visit. She doesn’t want to go anywhere … just sit and read, run a few miles, and play word games with me on my phone. R & R for her.

    She has an engineering degree, finished in the top 10 in law school, passed the bar in California, and works as a bartender and server in a San Francisco British Pub. She had no desire to enter the corporate world and is living true to herself. My heroine!

    I trust there is order in the chaos, and am grateful for the gift that I don’t fret over what I cannot change. My daughters are in their forties, and learning life’s lessons. However, when they first left home, your post today would have brought tears to my eyes as well, because the love we have always travels with them.

    However, I must confess that when my husband wanted to build a room behind the garage, I wouldn’t let him make it too big. I didn’t want them to get to comfortable if they came back home.

    • Oh Marion,

      One of the hardest things for me as a mom was to let go of ‘my’ expectations for my kids and embrace what brought them bliss. A preschool teacher? My daughter? I never would have guessed it, but that’s what brings her joy.

      I love that your daughter is your heroine! I’m also right there with you on the room addition. When Alexzandra first moved to SF, we dropped her off at the air port and I came home to start painting her bedroom. It’s now my office. I think she’s still a little pissed about that. Oops!

  13. I love your relationship with your daughter! She sounds fabulous, which is a HUGE testament to you, mom. My mom and I struggled with some tough times, and emerged at the end as great friends. I do hope for the same with my daughter. It’s a struggle some days, and I feel like banging my head against the wall, but she’s a fantastic little girl and I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for sharing. πŸ™‚ And thank you for this today.

    • Aww, thanks Elena. Alexzandra is pretty damn fabulous and I would love to take the credit, but she’s done a lot for herself, too.
      What I learned – pick your battles. (and maybe jump over to Jilian Dodd’s blog to read about planting seeds, works with kids, too!)
      I think you and your daughter will be fine. Communication is key as is learning to let go. That’s so hard! I’m so happy that you and your mom are great friends now. It all comes full circle and tell yourself, ‘this too shall pass’.
      You’re such an awesome mom.

  14. Pingback: Magical Holidays at the Happiest Place on Earth! | Tameri Etherton

  15. You touched a chord in me. My daughter will turn 21 this summer. My sons are 3 and 7 months, so it is almost surreal to watch myself holding so tightly to each milestone. It goes so quickly. I feel fortunate to have a do-over with the boys, now that I am older and realize how important it is to really live each day with them, soaking up each little flower they give you, each time they want to lie down with mommy for afternoon nap. Blink once or twice and they’ll be all grown up, just like sissy.

    • Thank you, Sarah! Wow, you have quite the gap between kids!! My baby girl is now 21 and still in San Francisco giving me heart attacks. She’s now into rock climbing and will ride her bike from SF to Los Angeles in June. Crazy!

      Definitely hold them as much as you can now. Once they hit the teens, they are gone like a flash. Thanks for stopping in to share your story.

  16. Hi Tameri! I hopped over from Susie’s blog. I’m so glad you put your link on her post. I can so relate to this post. My baby is 22 now. My other daughter is 27 today. Oldest daughter just turned 31, and my son just turned 32. You’re so right, we never stop worrying. Right now I can barely sleep worrying about my youngest moving into her own apartment in a not-too-safe neighborhood. She assures me it’s fine, a good area, and there’s a security guard. (Yes, for a reason – duh!) But that’s what she can afford. We’re going to have to offer her a spot in our apartment, just a temporary arrangement, till she gets enough money to move into a safer place. And here we thought she was fine and settled, but the woman she’s renting a room from gave her a week’s notice to move out because the woman’s daughter & friend can’t afford their apartment anymore. Unbelievable. So, yep, we are always being surprised with good news and bad news and have to remember to pray all the time.

    Your daughter sounds awesome and you must be super proud of her, being so independent and ready to conquer the world! What is it about San Francisco, though? My youngest daughter wanted to move there, too. I’m glad she didn’t. It’s just too far away. We’re in SoCal, too!

    • Four kids! That is just crazy with your younger daughter. At least you’ll have her home for a bit and then she can find a safer place. My daughter lived next door to a pimp at one point. She said he was super sweet and looked out for her, but you know I still panicked. If your daughter ever does move to SF, let me know and I’ll give you my daughter’s phone number in case she needs a friend/place to stay.

      San Francisco isn’t that far, but when your baby lives there, it’s miles and miles from home, which is too far away. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your comment. Wasn’t Susie’s party a blast? I found so many great blogs from there!

  17. This is such a great post! My daughter has taught me as much as I have taught her. She is what I call an old soul. She seems to have an understanding of an old person in the body of a 20 year old! πŸ™‚ Your daughter sounds like she rocks! It is hard to let go….

    • Thanks Susie. Your blogiversary was such a great idea. I’ll bet your daughter is very level-headed with that old soul. It is so hard to let go ~ at any age. I miss her terribly, but know this is what she needs. Still, can’t she be independent and live closer? Hug your baby girl tight. πŸ™‚

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