As I woke up Saturday morning, my husband turned to me, singing the song we video-recorded our daughter performing thirteen years ago at her pre-school graduation. Several hours later, we watched 89 students in blue or white caps and gowns step their way down the aisle of a local music tent to the measured tones of Pomp and Circumstance. Our daughter was number 73.
A million years ago, I dropped our girl off at daycare the first time and sobbed all the way to work. When she started kindergarten, I cried, knowing that five years of her life had past, and now she would take critical, independent steps without us. Each year, after Labor Day, when the start of school rolled around, tears etched channels down my cheeks as I watched her climb onto the bus, or walk into a brick building, knowing that more of her had already separated. Last fall, I stood by the window as she backed the car down the driveway on her first day of her final year of high school, swallowing hard and wondering what it would be like when the year was over. Now, I swing in a cradle, inspecting my first days in the infancy of knowing.
Is there anything new that can be said about a child growing up? Is there a way to describe the pride, nostalgia, regret and joy that circle and weave, in precise terms that communicate these competing sentiments to those who have not lived it? I think not.
But in spite of all the conflicting waves of emotion, I am clear about one thing. Forward is the only way. So I keep going. Typing blog passages, waving her off as she departs to work, smiling when she returns, and reserving a hotel room for college orientation at the end of this week.
Our job, all these years, has been to help her grow successfully while imbuing her with traits of strength, respect, caring and diligence. Check, check, check and check.
Now it's time for us all to move on.