My daughter went back to school today. She started the seventh grade. This boggles my mind. How is it possible that she got to be smack in the middle of Middle School so quickly? I always get nostalgic and misty-eyed at the start of the school year. Her life flashes before my eyes as I watch her wait for the bus, hanging with her friends. This year was a little more emotional for me.
This summer was the first time in my daughter's life that I was home for her. Money is tight in our house right now, as it is in millions of American households, so we didn't go anywhere exotic. We stayed close to home. Our town had a six week program that she participated in. For the first time, I was able to be the one to not only pick up and drop off my little girl, but I was able to help out some of my friends by taking their girls to and from camp as well. I got to know Catalina and her friends better. I went from being "the mom that was never around" to, as my daughter tells me, "the mom everybody loves." I had time to cook Catalina breakfast -- omelets and pancakes, not simply a bowl of cereal -- we ran errands together, watched some TV shows together, joked, played games and often just talked.
At times I was in awe of her. Not because of anything particularly profound that she said or did, although she is capable of incredibly profound things. I was in awe that this person who once lived inside my belly developed into and incredibly unique, funny and beautiful person. She is not perfect but her imperfections are her own, not clones of mine. I'd like to think that her strengths come from me, but they don't. They are all hers. I am so thankful for this summer to get to know "my baby" as a person. It was a special gift.
Catalina is 12 now. There were moments during this summer that I looked back on all the years that I was working or otherwise too busy to spend time with her and mourned what I missed out on. My mind also wandered to the future; how much more time do I have until she decides that hanging out with Mom is uncool? But I kept those moments brief. Spending too much time with these thoughts would betray what I learned recently; live in the present and focus on the Now because that is the only thing that is real. So I did.
Thank you, Catalina, for Our Summer of 2009. I had the time of my life.