I went with my “grown” daughter to her first “big girl” gynecologist appointment today. She did not ask me to go, and I did not insist on going, but I went, mostly because she was afraid of the insurance forms. Of course, I am thankful for the insurance forms because I really wanted to go with her to the doctor, even if I would have never told her that.
My Daughter had Her First Visit with the Gynecologist
I vowed not to go into the exam room with her, or even to ask. She is twenty. Twenty. She can do this on her own. Whatever. When they called her name and she walked toward the door, all I saw was the 3-year-old version of her walking away from me with bouncy curls and wearing tiny shoes.
As I sat there waiting for her to return I remembered the countless times I’d been in that office. In the 30 years since I first visited that office, I’d been pregnant five times, miscarried three, made it through two full term, high-risk pregnancies. I’d had exploratory surgeries, a partial hysterectomy, and a couple “suspicious” breast exams and pap smears (whatever that means).
I’d waited in that waiting room while trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant and postpartum. I remember mourning in that room knowing that I would not have any more children. Nowadays I still go for my annual checkup. My gynecologist has seen me through more than half my life – through heartbreak and joy, life and death.
I Realized I was the Old Lady in the Waiting Room
As I sat there, I realized that I am now the old lady in the waiting room and it broke my heart. How did this happen? It feels like yesterday that I was that office with a baby, getting ready to have another baby. My baby simply cannot be old enough to be going to a doctor by herself. How can she be this old? How can I be this old?
I felt woefully unprepared for every single stage of my children’s lives. I did not grow up taking care of babies or siblings. My mother would not let me near my little sister. I am 8 years older than she is but my mother did not trust me. I had never even changed a diaper until my first was born. The first diaper I changed was hers, in the hospital, with my husband standing by, both of us terrified we would break her. We did not – not then, not ever.
But, each stage brought new terrors and opportunities for failure. Not once in all those years was I fully confident that I knew what I was doing, that my kids would turn out okay, or that I would be worthy of a decent mother’s day card.
Now, I am in a brand new stage of life and I am once again totally and completely lost, maybe more so than ever before. My children are grown. My oldest is out of the nest, doing very well on her own, employed and about to graduate college.
My baby just went to a big girl doctor appointment and walked in alone. She didn’t even cry. She cried every single day of Pre-K. Every. Single. Day. Today she walked right into that doctor’s office, never looked back and no tears.
Later, at home, in the quiet I realized something. There is nothing to mourn here. This is not bad news. The old Dr. Seuss saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” came screaming into my head. My children are not crying. That is a good thing. They are happy, healthy, and mostly okay. As unprepared as I was, I somehow managed to send two grown women into the world prepared to do life and do it well.
I did my job. I did it well.
I’m Only Going to Cry Happy Tears
So, I’ve shifted my mindset. Going forward I will remember these things:
• Instead of mourning what has changed or what is not anymore, I will celebrate these transitions.
• Instead of begrudging when my adult daughters do adult things, I will celebrate their independence and willpower.
• Instead of feeling worthless when they do not need me anymore, I will be grateful and celebrate their talents and abilities.
• Instead of sadness that my days of mothering littles is over, I will celebrate that they made it this far and now I get to mother adults.
• Instead of missing the babies, I will celebrate that maybe one day, I might get grandbabies.
• Instead of crying sad tears, I will cry happy tears.
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Vicki Rogers is the mom of two brilliant college girls and one very spoiled schnauzer. Being a mom is her most important role. Beyond that, Vicki has a daytime job in higher education and information technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s and specialist degree in education. Her graduate research was in leadership and organizational development, specifically in developing women leaders in IT. She is a frequent speaker on leadership, change, and diversity in information technology.