Chelsea turned 18 on Wednesday. I didn’t realize how fully the pending milestone affected me until after the day passed – successfully – and all the tension and worry (Will it be memorable enough? Special enough?) (It was!) evaporated from my body. I felt like a pot of water that had boiled dry. No wonder I caught the crud so easily.

Although nothing actually changed from one day to the next, Chelsea turning 18 prompted a couple not-so-happy thoughts. First, as happens with all milestones, I was prompted to take stock, this time of how well I’d done in regards to my kid. The last 18 years have not been without significant challenges. Most of the time, the mistakes I’ve made stand out, like red ink on the list in my mind. Part of my heart aches from not having more opportunities to make up for the hard times, for the lost tempers and struggles, but she’s great, despite my not always knowing what the hell I was doing. Bobby and I managed to get her this far, intact – that’s a sign of doing something right, isn’t it?

The other unavoidable realization that arrived with having a child evolve into a person legally considered an adult is this: damn. As in, “Damn, I’m old.”

No wonder women are waiting longer and having babies later in life. Who wouldn’t want to stave off their own impending coming-to-terms with the aging process?

Not that many people would look at me and assume I’m rolling downhill to cronehood. But when you have the full bloom of youth living in your house, you can’t help but notice how your own parts are withering. Not to mention drooping.

Suddenly I’m compelled to either do a bunch of sit-ups or come up with a reason to start drinking at 11 a.m.