I have never had an issue with age. When the girls went to pre-K, I did not cry, they were supposed to go to pre-K. The same is true for kindergarten, middle school and high school. I do not look at Abbey and think, oh she is getting so old I want her to be young again. When it was time to go for her license I did not think: I want my baby back. I thought thank goodness she can drive herself to work.
Bridget’s milestones are different, but I have never wished for my baby to stay my baby. Maybe because I’ve always known she is my forever child. I think it is more, I expect both my children to grow, to gain independence and to become more than I ever dreamed.
Then I turned 50. Suddenly this shit got real.
I feel like before I start the next part of this journey I should restate how much I love my girls. How much I adore Bridget and all she brings to my life. While there are times I wish I had a “normal” 12yo, I always am able to balance that thought with she rolled over. She is the girl that they said would never.
I have never really felt the need to celebrate my birthday. Not that I hated whatever day I was turning, but that it was just a day and I was supposed to be turning whatever age that year was bringing to the table. Maybe it is because at one point I took that life for granted and tried to throw it away. Maybe it is because I live in the now and have a goal of always being content for where I am in that moment but willing to go on whatever adventure the next day brings. Even if it means a trapeze.
Turning 50 was no big deal. Especially in the era of a pandemic. We didn’t celebrate anyone’s birthdays, anniversaries or heck Christmas. Having Bridget, who is immunocompromised meant that we have limited everything since Friday, March 13, 2020. So not having turning 50 a big deal didn’t seem weird. It seemed the new normal.
Until a friend asked how I was doing and I broke. I freaking broke.
I am now 50 and my 12yo is in diapers. I am 50 and my 12yo is a forever child. She has not progressed academically in 3 years. She seems to stuck in the 4yo mode, who wets the bed at night. Who needs help in the shower but wants her legs shaved. This freaking sucks. In 10 years I am going to be 60 and she will be 22y and still in diapers. I am never going to retire. I am never…. life is getting harder not easier. I don’t want her sister (who totally will) to have to take care of her, to have to shower her or clean her diaper in the morning. I hate waking up and discovering the pull-up didn’t do it’s job. Wishing that they would have an L-XL size with Princess Elena. I hate this, this feeling that I am sucking at being a mom and time is running out.
I feel guilty because yes, I am scared but unlike so many others I have a village. I have at least 50 people who, if something happens to me, will take Bridget on so that her sister can be a teen, a twenty-something, live her life until she is really mature enough to take on the care of Bridget.
And doesn’t that kind of suck? That I know I am leaving Abbey with the responsibility of some day caring for her sister. That Bridget will always need someone, and this will shape Abbey’s future. Whatever family Abbey creates, her sister will be be an intimate part of. What if Abbey’s future mate doesn’t want a Bridget? What is she and her mate are afraid of creating a Bridget? What if I don’t go down that rabbit hole right now but acknowledge its existence.
And I feel guilty. Because I am not supposed to feel this way. I am supposed to be the cheerleader, the advocate, the one most likely to say bite me and never put a limit on what Bridget can do.
Yet the pandemic has highlighted how much Bridget’s world has condensed. She is into Sophia the first. Her socially distanced classmates are into tween shows. In the world of pandemic, there are no opportunities for socialization and she comes home from school every day upset that her besties cannot have recess with her. She cannot go to the grocery store to work on independent shopping skills, she cannot go to the Y for adaptive swim. There is so much this year has taken away from her and it is getting worse.
I am lucky. Because I have my villagers who have been there for me the past few weeks (in honesty the past 12 years but seriously the past 2 weeks have been epic). That let me ugly cry and vent. That let me have my pity party and then say: times up, party is over, time to pick up the pieces. Remember that advice you were given? Plan for what you want and figure out every baby step in between to get there. They offer whatever they have to help me take those steps.
I have support. Being a recovering Catholic, I still struggle with the guilt…how dare you ask people to help you!! how dare you cry over Bridget! how dare you (insert whatever I am dealing with here). I am thankful for my village, my tribe, the ones that get me and the ones that hold me accountable. That they know I need the suck it up buttercup and not the there, there it will be okay. Because it’s not and will never be okay.
For the first time in 50 years I am feeling my age and the foreboding that time is running out.
I love this child. I want this child to continue to defy my fears and anyone who says she cannot do something. The child who loves to dance, who loves Jimmy Buffet and thinks that her life is just perfect. That her sister is her favorite person, that her friends at school will be her friends forever and that her mom always thinks she is awesome.
I’m also a realist. I know as she gets older the world gets less tolerant of her uniqueness. I know her today friends may someday be her future bullies. That the boy who helps her in class may some day take advantage. I know that until I get her to not wet the bed if the pandemic ever ends she will not be invited to a sleepover party. I know it is my responsibility to keep her safe while allowing her to explore the world.
What hit home, the day I turned 50, is that I love this child. I am content with this child. If she never learns how to use a phone or live independently I am okay with that.
Until the day after I am no longer there to make sure she is safe.
That is when turning 50 sucked.
Dear friends, I am okay. I swear. I have written and deleted this post so many times. I have reached out and gotten the support needed to make today okay and finally able to express what has been happening.
I ultimately posted it because I know I am not the only one feeling this way. If any other parent is, I want them to know that they are not alone. I may be wrong but I think this is a normal way to feel. I also know if it wasn’t for my villagers I would lost. So thank you to everyone who has helped me these 12 years of uncertainty and the next few decades of HOLY CRAP I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO THIS BUT I KNOW I HAVE TO. I love you all