Kids say the darndest things
By Carole Townsend
(Not so) Common Sense
I feel sure that I have shared this fact before, but for the record, I’ll do it again. I am a mom. My husband and I have four children, all of them now in their twenties.
They have grown up to be responsible, compassionate, fascinating young adults, and we are proud to be their parents. Did we make mistakes along the way? Oh, you bet we did. But even so (and sometimes in spite of us), they have all turned out to be amazing people.
We passed another milestone this week. Our youngest daughter moved to Pittsburgh; she will attend graduate school at a wonderful university up there. She is moving to Pennsylvania by herself, after having worked very hard in college to earn a scholarship to a prestigious university. She chose the school on her own. She researched and decided on a field of study on her own. She shopped and rented an apartment on her own. She has made all of these decisions in an effort to establish the life that she has always known she’d make. As much as we’ll miss her, we are doubly excited about her exciting new adventure.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how different children can be? I believe you could have ten of them, and each one would be different from the others. We have one son, who is as good, honest and hardworking as the day is long. Of our three daughters, one is a mommy, one is a carefree, earthy kind of girl, and then there’s our baby, who is as driven and headstrong as any adult I’ve ever known. She’s the only child I’ve ever known who, at the age of twelve, could and did make all of the travel arrangements for the family’s annual beach trip. She had her own ideas about how a vacation should play out. My husband and I, mostly out of sheer fascination, just sat back and watched her while she made phone calls and inquired about prices and amenities.
She’s always been fiercely independent; since I knew she was the last child I’d ever have, I wanted her to stay a baby for longer than she preferred. She decided at 11 months old that she would no longer take a bottle. Not long after that, she dragged out the potty training seat, ready to be a “big girl” well before I was ready for it. She has been ten steps ahead of me her entire life. It’s as if she could see a goal in her head from the day she was born, and she has dragged us behind her, hanging on for dear life, as she’s run toward it with focus and determination. I have always admired that about her. She seems so together, so confident, at such a young age.
We have known since spring that her moving day was coming in early July and sure enough, it arrived right on time. She and I busied ourselves with shopping for her new apartment, refinishing furniture, and spending as much time together as we could. The day loomed large, and we talked about anything but the reality of packing her up and watching her drive away in a moving truck. It happened anyway.
She left before dawn, so early that we just had time for a brief “goodbye,” and she was off. I didn’t cry as I hugged her. I saved that for later, because I didn’t want to dampen an otherwise happy and exciting day, full of so much promise. She cried as she said goodbye to her beloved dog, but she did that in private, as she does so many of the tough things in life.
She said something to me just before she left, and I think I will hold onto it until the day I die. “When people tell me I’m acting just like my mom, I take it as a compliment.” She threw the remark out there as nonchalantly as a young twenty-something says pretty much everything, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so sweetly moving to me.
People were right during the teen years, when they’d pat me on the shoulder and repeat over and over, “This too shall pass, Mom.” It sure does.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.