7 Days

Not a typo.

Nope. Not a sequel to 6 Days. Not a prequel or re-envisioning or any of that other nonsense we see coming from Hollywood. This post is not about a novel or a story.

It is about my greatest achievement to date.

Eighteen years ago I looked like this photo. Ignore the bad hairdo left over from the 80s. Forget the horrible glasses. And please feel free to forego any chicken leg comments.

Notice the bulge.

A week after this picture was taken, while I was quite contently watching SNL (in hindsight, it could have been the laughter), that bulge decided it wanted out of the pool.

5 hours later the tiny alien broke free in a fit of hate and rage, and greeted the world with a howl rivaling all other newcomers that night.

5 minutes after that “baby girl Dunlap” became Amanda Leigh.

And the world was a better place.

Amanda was a great baby!

When she was 2 days old, I held the incessantly angry child up in front of me—tears streaming down my face, sleep a distant memory, sanity holding on by a thread—and screamed back, “What do you want from me?!” She cocked her tiny little head. Curled her adorable little lips. And promptly belched in my face.

I still do that on occasion. Thankfully, she doesn’t respond with burps anymore.

But other than that second night, and the six week stint of inside-out sleep patterns (awake all night, slept all day), she was a breeze. She was sweet and kind, tender and silly. She was (overly) friendly and amazed at the world around her.

And she hasn’t seen anything yet.

In 7 short days, my job will be done. I know… I know. It’s been done for two years. Ever since that Tuesday morning she woke up and decided she knew better than all the adults in her world, I was done teaching, preaching, showing and knowing. I get that. But the job description implicitly stated, “keep the child alive until they reach their eighteenth birthday.” (Because yes, I always read the fine print!) And on that front, my job will be done in seven days.

In seven days, I lose a baby. Society gains an adult.

A part of me wonders what happened to that amazing Shirley Temple of a girl that sang and danced, curls bouncing as she talked to any and every stranger and entertained anyone that would pay attention. A part of me wonders where the toddler went. Where the pubescently confused innocence went. Where the first days of kindergarten and the last day of believing in Santa went.

And then I look in her eyes.

I hear her giggle.

And I know it’s all still there, wrapped in an adult casing.

I’m going to miss my girl. I’m going to miss those mother vs. teenage daughter world-class battles. I’m going to miss the tears of laughter. Playing adult and planning her future. Playing child and enjoying smack talk with Guitar Hero. I’m going to miss hearing things I never thought I’d hear… no, wait. I won’t miss those. And in reality, those are probably not done.

She’s done amazing things. She’s made colossally bad mistakes. She’s skinned her knees and has scar tissue. She falls. We all fall. But it’s not my job to pick her up anymore. It’s her job to stand up on her own.

Seven days, baby girl Dunlap. Then you no longer belong to me, but to the World. You’ve been ready for this for much longer than I’ve been willing to admit…

Now go get ‘em!!

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