I’m “that woman” now. You know, the one who sees a baby in a stroller and looks at the person pushing it—be it mother, father, or babysitter—and say, a stricken look on her face, “Enjoy it now! It goes so fast!”
I feel sure that I’ve written about this before but now it’s a reality.
I’m old enough to have a daughter graduating from high school.
It was just yesterday that I cried myself from one end of the country to the other when I had to go on a business trip and leave her home, six-months old, toothless and adorable. Or when I agonized over quitting my in-house day job to stay home with her, only to have her tell me “I wish I got to go to Tiny Tots” (the day care center around the corner from our house—trust me: that didn’t go over well). Or when we celebrated her “graduation” from elementary school to the middle school, the middle school to the high school. It was all just yesterday. Wasn’t it?
This week, we have the senior prom (or “Prom” as it is called now, no article), her graduation party (60 hungry family and friends). Next week is the big day: graduation. Soon after, college orientation, shopping for supplies and then the biggest day of all: move-in day. It’s about more than I can fathom because I’m still thirty, she’s still a baby, and her brother doesn’t even exist yet.
I feel rather foolish talking like this because I used to be the woman who laughed at people who told me to be present and to savor every moment that was my daughter’s childhood. I was present, even though it’s hard to be in every moment when many of those moments include only discipline, teaching good manners, listening to the same song sung over and over again in the back seat of the car, saying “because I said so” ten times a day. As someone else once wisely said to me, “the days are long but the years fly by.” Boy, do they.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited for her. We live in a little village and she’s seen the same one hundred faces every single day since kindergarten. It’s time for a change. It’s time for her to move on and to experience a new city, new friends, new challenges, new joys, and new heartbreaks. It’s time for her to establish who she is outside of this family and this village and to explore the world on her terms. She is definitely ready for everything this next chapter brings. I guess I’ll have to be ready, too.
Fellow Stiletto babe, northern-half Evelyn David, and I often joke that’s it not all about us. (Alternately, I joke with my mother that everything is my fault. She heartily concurs. Mothers, apparently, are the eternal scapegoats for all of life’s inconveniences. Glad I learned that early on.) Intellectually, we understand that and suppress a lot of what we know and what we feel in favor of letting our children grow up and move on. I wish I were in a different place, emotionally, but I’m not and I’ll only apologize if I can’t stop crying during the Pledge of Allegiance during graduation or I make a complete fool of myself (moreso than usual).
So, Stiletto friends, how do you cope when something sneaks up on you, something that has been right ahead of you for a long time? What are your coping strategies for dealing with the monumental rites of passage?