All Growed Up

graduation cap 2Thursday we attended graduation for one of the neighborhood clan. It was full of excitement and fun, pride and hope. We poked fun at the band, made faces at Justin from the crowd, and joked that there were seven more of these to attend over the next decade.

Friday, at 12:45 p.m., upon release from the last day of school for the year, my daughter became a senior. A senior. She’ll be the next graduation ceremony we sit through. A year from now, it will be her cap and gown…

I clearly remember that moment like yesterday—when I walked out of school, the last day of junior year, with my head in the clouds and my heart bursting from my chest. I was a senior. Top of the food chain. Almost done. Ready to take on the world.

And I imagine my mother was full of the same fear then as I am today.

My daughter’s not ready to take on the world. She’s still my baby girl. In some ways this is worse than that distant first day of kindergarten, when I sent her off on a bus some stranger was driving, to be cared for by people I didn’t know. She’s going to go off to college (or the Army, as the current flip-flop teen brain is debating) and be around strangers I don’t know, don’t trust, and can’t expect, let alone rely on, to take care of her. She’s not ready.

I’m not ready.

It’s not an age thing. It’s not that her growing up equals me growing old. Age happens—I came to terms with that long ago. It’s the time bomb that is suddenly audible.

Sure I knew the time was coming. Sure I could see the countdown of birthdays gone by and changes in her, both physically and mentally. But now I can hear the actual ticking. Now there’s a permanent staccato beat in the back of my mind.

I have one year. One year to teach her everything I’ve got left to teach. One year to instill the final tidbits of morals and ethics. One year to do whatever damage I have left to do, so she can go off as an adult and blame me for her failures, until she truly becomes an adult and takes the blame for those onto herself.

One year.

It doesn’t seem long enough.

I don’t know who’s less prepared for this—her or me. Hell, I don’t even know if she realizes anything beyond the cloud of “I’m a senior” that she’s currently floating on. She still has trouble with boys. She still doesn’t know how to clean a bathroom properly. She still doesn’t clean her room without being told. She’s not ready for this…

I’m not ready for this.

Can we turn back the clock? Can I have my little flaxen-haired Shirley Temple back? Give me a do-over on the first ten years and I’ll feel better about the next twelve months. But we can’t.

Once upon a time my mom and I giggled at some sitcom, possibly Roseanne, when the mother said, “If they’re alive when you get home, I’ve done my job.” In many ways, that’s true, but it seems to have lost some of its humor at the moment. There’s so much to this job and we’re given eighteen years to do it, but it still doesn’t feel like enough.How the hell do wild animals send their babies off after only a year or two? How?!

One year. Twelve months. It’s time to cram for the exam… and hope for a passing grade.

0 Responses to All Growed Up

  • Burke says:

    Good luck with that. I am having a hard time dealing with these same issues. I keep telling myself that I have to just let her go & hope for the best. :)

  • Lu says:

    Right now I’m struggling with “If they don’t want to move out I did something wrong”. Neither one seems to have any motivation to take control of their own lives. So I guess I have the opposite problem. I’m not worried that I have to send them out into the scary world on their own. I’m worried that I freaked them out too much about the scary world and now they’re afraid to live. That’s just as bad, if not worse, so tread lightly.

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