Somewhere in the last two or three years, my 17 year old daughter has become her own person. I can't pinpoint when it happened. It had to be more gradual than overnight, but at some point she stopped loving all the same things that we did. Sure, we still like to do some of the same things, like hiking and snow skiing, but doing it with her parents just doesn't hold the same excitement it used to.
Gone are the family trips where she was ecstatic to be with us, basking in the undivided attention of an only child: the times where shopping with Mom, going to the movies with both parents, or escaping to the mountains with "just the three of us" were good things.
She's on the brink...almost 18, aching for the independence to do her own thing, explore the world, or just hang out with her friends, but still anchored by the fraying ties of financial and emotional need. We're very fortunate. She's a good kid. When I do a Google search on "18 year old daughter" the first sites to pop up are dealing with ungratefulness, dabbling in porn, "out of control", and runaways. I'm actually excited for her, for the adventures she will undertake, for the opportunities she will have, and even for the hard lessons she will learn.
It's still hard. But instead of focusing on how much I miss our constantly being together and sharing, I am treasuring the rare moments when she opens up. I try not to think of how few times like this we will have in the future, but appreciate what we have. I pray that we will always be close (in spirit, if not in distance), and that she will always know how much we treasure her.
In the meantime, I am marveling at her enthusiasm and willingness to jump in and try new things.
Here are a couple of photos of her trip to Alaska this summer...we've spoken to her three times in 29 days (probably the number of times she has been able to shower) and she is in heaven. Something tells me her re-entry into Mom and Dad 24/7 is going to be difficult!