First I’ll start by announcing the great relief I feel that my daughter turns a whole 21 years old today. In the eyes of the state, she is now fully-formed adult capable of making adult decisions, ordering adult libations, signing legally binding documents, and no longer a child.

But always my child.  Fierce independence has been there since about 3 years old. Case in point — in an effort to streamline getting dressed in the morning, I offered a choice of two really cute outfits. Her reply was a cool, “Mom, that’s no choice.”  She dressed off-script that morning and every morning thereafter.  It ended my two years of ‘dress your daughter in completely cute, coordinated outfits’ run.

And always the parent. I’ve watched the separation, the independence between us grow deeper and wider and stronger.  And that separation, the bond that formed, is more satisfying than dressing an automaton of my own making in cute outfits. (Also, I probably overestimate how cute the outfits were, but I digress.)

But, a satisfying bond of separation? Yes. We — parent and child, communicate across a chasm of age, education, experience, knowledge and all the rest.  As we age, I appreciate our relationship even more as I step away from seeing myself as only a “parent” and her as only a “child.” Independence from those familial labels allows me to step back and really admire the adult she’s become, appreciate her achievements, be wowed and amazed by what she accomplishes and learns, what she takes on next … yep. Without me.

Today I celebrate her independence!

Happy Birthday, Frood!

I love you lots.

– woW¹

¹”woW” is “Mom” upside-down.