I wasn’t prepared for this time in our life together. I wasn’t given enough warning on how I would be so proud but so sad at the same time. My firstborn love is now weeks away from 18 and just a year from leaving home and heading to college. Friends she’s had since she was a little girl are moving into their dorm rooms and heading into the next chapter of their lives. Soon it will be my girl’s turn . . . my turn.

This starts the questions: Is she prepared? Did I do enough? Does she know how much I love her? Does she know she can call me for anything at any time day or night? Does she know how amazing she is? Does she know her worth?

From the first moment I laid my eyes on her, my heart was so full of lovea love I struggle to explain. Some nights I couldn’t sleep, worrying if she was still breathing in her crib on the other side of the room. Now, it’s not a worry about the little girl across the room in a crib, but a little girl driving a car, walking the halls of school, and soon, a little girl moving into her own space in another state away from her mama.

The little girl who was placed in my arms all those years ago is now a beautiful young woman. She has this infectious smile and personality that brings people into her bubble. She’s a girl who people want to be around and send me sweet messages about. She’s the kind of daughter that you hope for. She’s a big sister that any kid would be lucky to have. She talks to me, and I can trust her. Her heart is goldenit’s so, so good. I’m proud of her and honestly, I’m proud of me too.

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Does she sometimes make silly decisions? Does she talk back? Do I annoy her? Has she failed a test? All those things and more . . . yes! She’s still finding her way and blazing her trail. She still sometimes forgets things and calls me (texts actually) to help. She can be self-absorbed and need a little humbling every now and then. Ultimately though, she’s everything good. She’s sunshine in my life that I wish I could bottle up and keep with me always. I have no idea how I managed to raise a girl as special as she is.

So, is she prepared to move out on her own and go to college? I think she is as ready as she can be without having her own experiences to learn from. Heck, she teaches me things sometimes. 

Did I do enough? I’ve poured my heart and soul into this girl. Talked with her about everything and anything that she’ll let me. Told her stories from my own life to hopefully help her learn from my own mistakes.

Does she know how much I love her? I hope she never questions my love for her. I can never truly know the answer to this question, and she will never truly understand how big my love is for her, but I am confident I show her daily.

Does she know how amazing she is? I don’t think any one of us really realizes how amazing we are. We let those doubts sneak in and allow other’s opinions to live too loudly in the back of our minds. However, this girl of mine is starting to listen to her own voice more and turn down the volume on all the other stuff.

RELATED: Senior Year is Not a Parenting Final

I, too, am now trying to tune out all the worries and doubts. Trying not to ask so many questions and what-ifs of things that haven’t happened yet. I’m learning to trust myself and all I’ve poured into the little girl I was entrusted with. I’m leaning into gratitude for the time and experiences I’ve had with her and those that are yet to come.

No one warned me that my life was not mine anymore. That it would revolve around the person I was entrusted with, the one who didn’t get a choice in the matter. I’m waving the flag and giving warning that it is coming . . . your time when you let your littles fly on their own. It’s scary and weighs on a mama’s heart every day, but the view is beautiful.

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Stephanie Janney

Stephanie is a mom to two kiddos, 18 and 2. No, that is not a typo. Stephanie and her husband received a surprise miracle 16 years after welcoming their daughter in 2005. They currently live in the NW Arkansas area.

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