My youngest child has just a handful of days left of high school, and I’m finding my reaction to her big milestone quite different from when we walked this road with our son just two years ago. Then, I was in mourning, pulling in every “last” and wringing my hands over how everything was about to change. Today, I’m joyful, genuinely so excited for my beautiful, brilliant girl and where this road will take her. What’s changed? Mostly, me.
In two years, I’ve learned that change is inevitable, and it can be good or bad. Either way, there’s no stopping it. Our lives shift and bend as the pages flip through chapter after chapter, but one thing life never does is stop, at least until it finally does. “This too shall pass” is something my mother frequently said, and she was right. Holding on to things like expectations and assumptions, or even the childhoods of my two kids, with gripped fists is just not something I do anymore. I’m not looking at baby pictures, or even at the road directly ahead. I’m looking up, trusting in the goodness of God and His providence for both of my children. I poured into them with everything I had, and I’ll always be in their corner, but their lives are theirs, and that’s as it should be.
My daughter coughed through the night before her final AP exam and when she woke me at 6:40am to say she was leaving for school, I offered her cough medicine. She took it, even though she hates medicines of all kinds, and then went off to school without complaint. It reminded me of the time when she was six and informed us at about two in the morning that she had been sick but had cleaned everything up herself. “I just thought you should know,” she said, standing in the doorway in her flannel nightgown, as I shook my head. When I opened the covers to let her in my side of the bed, she joined me and I whispered that she never had to go through anything hard like that without me. “I know, Mom, thanks. I’m fine,” she said as she drifted off to sleep.
She is fine. More than fine, really. My girl is brilliant and beautiful and she’s actively learned permanent lessons from just about every circumstance she’s ever been in, so she is also wise. You could say she’s been ready for college since about third grade, and now the day has finally come. I’m grateful and so happy for her, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of witnessing her joy.
For Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a hardcover collection of Curious George stories, and she wrote on the inside cover about how she fondly remembered our summer days when we read stacks and stacks of library books. It’s true, we would sit on a covered swing and read twenty-five picture books in a sitting, her on one side of me and her brother on the other. We’d stop and eat a super-healthy snack, something like apple slices and peanut butter, take a walk, and then do it all again. Those were busy, good days, and I’m thankful for them. It’s astonishing to me that any bit of that time stays with her and will travel with my girl wherever she goes, but of course that’s how it works. Some other stuff, far less pleasing than a summer afternoon filled with books, will have made its way in there as well, but she’s ready to fly. She’s fine and she’s good and I could not be more proud.
Like all things, the time of her childhood, too, has passed, but it’s still in her and it’s still in me and always will be. Nothing left to do now but celebrate, have a snack and a walk (this time in a cap and gown), and look up. There is so much grace.