Thirteen years ago, with tears brimming in my eyes, I watched as my oldest and only daughter bounced up the steps of the yellow school bus and waved good-bye. That was only the beginning of the countless times she would confidently find her wings, turn, and wave good-bye.
In the words of songwriter Mark Harris, “Let my love give you roots, and help you find your wings.” To that point, her father and I did our best to give her the necessary tools, guidance, and encouragement to help her grow and become the confident, motivated and independent individual she is today. I watched her prepare to graduate high school this past spring and she had plans to move away to college in three short months. We have done our job for the last 18 years to get her ready for this day. Why then, did I feel so sad? Selfishness. Pure selfishness.
I assumed it would be difficult to send her off to college. But that day always seemed light years away. Recent months have been a year full of bittersweet “lasts”. I would gaze around the dinner table as the kids bantered back and forth and thought how I will miss her caustic wit, her smile, her playful jabs at me or her thoughts on current events. She always has an opinion and isn’t afraid to voice it. There is so much I will miss every day.
For the last couple of years I have been anticipating the “loss” I would feel when she left for college. (Nothing like planning ahead I always say.) I realize “loss” sounds a tad dramatic. I do realize she was only planning on going away to college. But some time ago I finally had a revelation that allowed me to make sense of my premature feelings of “loss”.
Her dad’s passing almost five years ago was a huge loss and left a huge void. Suddenly she became the next oldest in the household. She became my balance of sanity when her younger brothers had maxed my energy and patience. Obviously not an equal counterpart, I could still share things with her that I couldn’t share with her brothers. Mindful to always remain mom and not best friend, there continued to be a connection that was different from the relationship I had with the younger two. She was not only my oldest, but also my only daughter. Now at almost 19 she truly is the other adult in our house. I now understand the root of my premature feelings of loss.
Sharing is caring
I know it’s time to share this amazing individual with others. This is her moment to fuel the fire inside her and bring her dreams to fruition. And as I was FINALLY adjusting to the idea of saying goodbye, she announced her decision to attend The University of Toledo, to avoid what could become crippling debt in the form of student loans. I could not have been more proud of her well thought out and mature decision. And I know the good-byes will still come soon enough. For now she is fully embracing her decision.
I reflect back on how fast 18.5 years has flown by and I ask, “How did we get here?” I believe the answer lies in one success, disappointment, laugh, tear and good-bye at a time. We gave her roots. She is finding her wings. And I’m confident “she’s got this.”