Okay, I’m going to be honest. I couldn’t even type the title without tearing up. There’s a very good chance that while writing this, I’m going to go through a whole box of tissues.
I went to my daughter’s end of year Band Banquet last year. It’s a big deal. We dress formally for this. There is a catered dinner and dancing. These kids and teachers work HARD, they’ve earned it. During the dinner and dancing, I sat at a table with some friends and graduation was brought up. One friend at the table had a graduating senior and another had already graduated one child. We got to the part of the evening where the graduating seniors and their parents took a stroll across the stage. That’s when it hit me-like a ton of bricks. This would be me this year. My baby had one year left. One year. One. Year.
It’s been coming for 12 years. From the day I started her in preschool, it’s been a count down. Barring some major issue, we’ve been moving to this year, senior year and graduation, since we started. It’s not like it was a surprise. But that did not matter, as my chest suddenly clenched and the tears welled.
That’s all I’ve got left with her. She will go out on her own and be an adult.
When did that happen? How did that happen?
I’m not ready!
I have no idea if she’s ready. I’m sure, like all teenagers, she wants to leave.
But is she ready? Did I do my job? Will she fly? Or will she falter? Have I prepared her enough?
It wasn’t that long ago, while dealing with the throes of teenager-dom, I declared (pretty much to everyone who would listen), that she HAD TO GO. But now, as that date approaches I’m suddenly wanting to make sure I get more moments in- to make sure she knows I love her and I’m here for her. I can’t imagine my house without her in it. I can’t imagine not seeing her every day. Not hearing her voice and seeing her smile. So, okay, more often than not it’s a snarl and a scowl, but that’s not what I picture. I just can’t help but think that I’m not ready!
And here’s another killer part. Part of my job is to make sure she has no idea how much it’s killing me. To smile and encourage her to go out on her own and fly-to take risks, find her own way and find her own success. Because that’s part of my job too; to not hold her back because I can’t bear to let her go, but to be her support and source of encouragement.
I just hope it doesn’t kill me. It might.
For now, I’m going to go cuddle my four-year-old because he’ll still let me. And, there’s a good chance when I snuggle him in and sniff that little-boy hair he won’t notice too much my sniffles and the tears threatening to fall. I’m not sure where the time goes. But every now and then, for just a moment, I’d like it back. In case I can’t get my wish, I’m just going to smile while she walks off in to adulthood. My baby isn’t a baby any more. At least not this one. It’s a good thing I’ve still got one to hold on to, or I might be a total mess.
So if you see me anytime soon with a far-off look in my eyes, a smile and tears on my lashes-do me a favor and pretend not to notice. I’m working really hard on letting go with a smile, but I know I’m going to keep having moments where I can’t quite pull it off.