My Daughter’s Graduation Was Exciting for Her, But Excruciating For Me
As the principal’s speech moved to the fifth-grade class, I felt a catch in my throat and tears welling in my eyes. A familiar chasm between sadness and joy, we are old friends. I felt joy for the pride in my girl and sadness that my baby is growing up. We stand at the precipice, she is looking forward and I am looking back.
I think back to the day when she came to me with desperation in her little voice and asked: “Mama can you fix my Tinkerbell doll? It’s broken.” That particular request didn’t wash over me like so many others that came before it. I stopped for a moment as that one lingered just a little longer. She was only three and we were at the beginning.
My mind raced ahead to the days when her problems weren’t going to be that simple. I thought of the days to come when I couldn’t easily fix what was broken if I could even fix it at all. Scotch tape and glue are the answers only for so long.
Ten years later, here we are. Some of those days have even come and gone. Making friends, losing friends, mean girls and besties. Life seems to be moving at warp speed. But the hands of time pay no regard to a mother’s heart. I feel her slipping away.
I watch her as she straddles the past and the future. My sweet baby who always fell asleep gripping a handful of her blanket is now the same girl who would sleep well into the morning if I let her. The little girl who fights with her sister to snuggle with me on movie night is the same girl who won’t let me kiss her on school property. Play dates are now called “hanging out with friends” and birthday gifts are clothes, not toys. Pretty soon there will be talk of boys, and childhood transparency will fade away.
We’re having a tough time, me and her. Mostly because I don’t believe eye rolls and exasperated sighs are acceptable forms of communication. We do the dance like every mother and daughter before us. She pushes ahead as I try to pull her back. I remember my own mother’s sage advice: “This too shall pass.”
I want my baby to be my baby, but more and more I see glimpses of a smart, confident young lady. Time marches on propelling her into a world fraught with ugliness and uncertainty. As she navigates this thing called life I know she will handle it with courage, resilience, and grace.
I also know there will be days when she’ll want space that I don’t want to give, and she’ll need answers that I don’t have myself. Perhaps more often than I’d like.
There is no manual, the goalpost is always moving, and while I may not have all the answers, this much I know. When the world is unkind and her wings have been clipped: what I will always give is unconditional love and what I will always be is a soft place for her to land.