All my daughters
I miss every single one of them
When we reproduce, most of us have the no-brainer understanding that these children will, fate willing, grow up before our eyes. We are prepared to watch them grow and develop and change.
But there’s a parallel phenomenon that occurs, and it isn’t quite the same. For me, it’s been rather jarring — and a little heartbreaking.
In my parenting journey it hasn’t always felt as if my daughter is developing on a linear track, which of course she is. For me it feels as if I have raised several different daughters over the last 14 years. They come and go, and I mourn the loss of each of them.
As I write, I start to wonder if this is how foster parents feel as they temporarily parent children who come into then leave their lives. As I look at the progression of photos that line our home’s hallway, I see several different little girls that have come and gone in my life. If I’m not careful, it can make me really sad to think about never seeing them again.
I will never hold that sweet, little bald baby again. I will never nurse her or hold her tiny foot in my hand or hear her little baby laugh.
Nana won’t put that toddler with the cotton candy wisps of hair on the phone to say good night to me as I work a job that keeps me out too late. She will never again crawl into bed with me after a bad dream.
The inquisitive, hilarious and happy elementary school girl will never again ask me if the tooth fairy is coming tonight, or the Easter Bunny, or Santa.
The tween who struggled with knowing how to be a good friend, how to present her appearance, how to navigate middle school — the one who started to argue with me, to yell back at me, who stopped accepting my full parental authority — has moved out.
I parented those girls to the best of my ability. In their place, and in their bedroom, now lives a whip-smart, confident, fiercely independent and incredibly driven high school student.
She doesn’t take crap from me or from anyone else. And although it is daunting for me some days, I know that she will have a completely different and positive experience as an adult with those skills and characteristics.
I will love all of my daughters forever. But I sure would love to hold that baby one more time.
Kathleen Palmer is an award-winning editor and journalist, marketing/communications content writer and occasional comedic actress. Nothing makes her happier than making people laugh. She is a single mom to a teenager, so naturally she enjoys a glass of wine, or two.