“Mom! I have been asked the prom already!” I read the text from my daughter and felt my heart drop in my stomach. She was already in driver’s training; did I really have to face this as well? Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was getting in my make-up and pulling a chair up to the counter so she could help me in the kitchen? How was I going to deal with this? How would I handle my baby being old enough to go to the prom. I would have to learn, as I had so many lessons from her through the years, this would just be one more bit of wisdom I will gain from the child that has filled my life with love, joy, frustration and just pure bewilderment.
I thought about the lessons over the years and began to chuckle at memories. How could I have ever mistaken her for a having a tail? I’ll never forget the look on her face one evening when she was about three and I told her to go sit her tail down and she looked behind her with a look of pure confusion and responded. “But Mommy, I don’t have a tail.” I’m still not sure if that was a statement or a question but I never suggested again to her that she might have a tail.
I learned what it meant to see your child’s life flash before your eyes, on more than one occasion by raising a child who had no fear of anything or so it seemed to me. The worst was a day when she was outside playing and I had heard a car slam on its breaks and the sound of a child scream. Positive that high pitched scream was my daughter’s, I lost my shoes somewhere between the front porch and reaching her, only to discover, the car was half way down the street and she was annoyed with one of her playmates. It seemed like hours before I stopped shaking and I realized in those few seconds, I had seen every hope and dream I had conjured in my head for my daughter flash in front of me as I feared she may never see them.
Though, the most important lesson of my life, came from her one day when she was about eight. She had made a playful statement the day before and I had taken it for just what it was, her being silly and never gave it another thought until she brought it up as we were driving down the road.
“Mom.” She called to me from the backseat.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I’m sorry about calling you my step-mom yesterday. You know I didn’t mean that.”
“Of course I do. I am not upset by it, we were playing and I knew you weren’t saying anything mean. “I explained. I really hadn’t given it any thought, but it seemed to be bothering her.
“You know.” She said thoughtfully. “I don’t even think about you as my step-mom. I just think of you as my mom.”
The tears began to well up in my eyes and I think I said something about possibly selling her on EBay for making me cry while I was driving but in that moment, I realized something my grandfather had known many years before my daughter had repeated this lesson. Family is not about biology, it’s about love. As my grandfather to whom I had no blood ties, loved me beyond the realms of understanding. This beautiful child was and always will be the greatest love of my life. Love doesn’t always come tied up in a neat little package with a pretty bow but it often comes in a text message that begins with the word “Mom!”