The minute Charlotte was born - 9:14 a.m. - my life changed.
I'd just gotten used to playing house with my husband. We were like kids, inclined to sleep late, leaving dirty dinner dishes in the sink 'til morning, going out to eat when the urge struck. Now, not only was it impossible to finish the dishes, but I couldn't fold laundry, go to the bathroom or go anywhere without her crying, without her always needing something else.
One night during that first upside-down week at home with Charlotte, I exploded when my husband came through the door. "If she has a baby when she's like sixteen, I'm not helping her with it!" He looked very puzzled. "After all the years of taking care of her," I sobbed, trying to explain, "I'll want my life back. I don't like this new one very much."
She's almost sixteen now. She hasn't had a baby but she does have a boyfriend. He came over for dinner last week and they both helped with the dishes afterwards. She's talking about college. Sometime during her fifth grade year, I was stunned to realize that 6,570 days of full-time parenting is all you get: 18 years times 365 days. At that point I was already halfway through my tenure as Charlotte's full-time parent. I cried hard. Now 1,095 is all that is left. How will I adjust to the change when she leaves?