On the Occasion of the 21st Birthday of My Youngest Baby
April 8, 2013


My youngest baby is 21 today. It makes me a little misty eyed, I’m not gonna lie.

I tried to resist the motherly instincts last night when she told me she was going out at midnight to buy her first legal drink.

Me: Be careful. Are you taking Ethan (longtime boyfriend) with you?
Her: Yep!
Me: Well, have fun.

(Ethan is big and strong and not the sort of guy you want to mess with. And very protective.)

See how well that went?

Don’t get me wrong; I love having adult children. I love the adult conversations, and it makes me happy to see the great women they’ve both become. But it’s real, on-paper, legal confirmation that this phase of my life is over.

Which is awful and awesome. It’s the end of being needed in many ways, but it’s better to be wanted anyway.

Parenthood is a long journey, and I’m not sure you ever really reach a destination in the sense that the trip is over. But I’m loving where I am now.

I love the laughter, the fun, and the friendship. The adult relationship that isn’t based on dependence, but on love, commitment and many, many shared memories. The ease of being with people who know you inside and out, have seen you in a swimsuit and without makeup and still love you.

It’s been an incredible journey. The best/worst, most rewarding/hardest most heart-rending/touching journey of all, I think. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve done my best and I have no regrets.

I’ve never made a quilt, but I think parenthood is how I imagine it would be, and someday I will make one. It’s a panoply of squares, each of which represents a smile, a hug or a tear, all joined together into one beautiful piece. If the last 24 years of my life are that quilt, I’m grateful for one so beautiful, that covers me when there is a chill and comforts me when I cry.

Here’s to you, girls, and to the next 24 years together.


  1. beth g sanders

    Anita, thanks so much for your kind words. It is a shock, and I wasn’t prepared for that. I didn’t really think it would be such a big deal, but last night when she texted me, I got all choked up. Prayers for all of you in your transition to the empty nest!

  2. Anita L.


    I just wanted to send you a note to say how much I enjoy your writing, especially the thoughts that you have shared as you (and Jim) move through these different stages in your lives. It was a shock when Ian turned 21 in November and there will be another when Amelia leaves for college in August.


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