I had a few moments to relax the other day during this busy season in which my kid is graduating, and as my eyes fell closed, I tried desperately to go back in time in my memories so I could listen again to the sounds of my children’s younger voices.
With all my heart I wanted to hear those toddler and little-kid voices, feel their little selves as they melted into my arms when they were sad or tired. I wanted to remember the exact way it felt when I’d hold them in my lap and read them stories or sing to them as they drifted to sleep for the night.
I wanted to be present back when they were tiny and came bounding into a room, excited to see me and share something new they’d discovered. Or when they were simply playing on the floor with toys and turned to look at me and say “I love you, Mommy.” Oh my heart.
The harder I tried, the more the tears slipped onto my cheeks. I painfully regretted that although I have hundreds of pictures, I don’t have videos like we do today. “Back then”, we didn’t have the technology to whip out a device and videotape everything on a whim and I so wish we had.
With gripped hands, I wanted to hang on tightly to those years, to their childhoods, and to keep them small. Keep them close. Keep them dependent on me.
“I’m not ready” I breathed. I’m not ready to let my daughter go out into the world. My beautiful daughter who’s no longer the toddler with long ringlets and purple overalls who had Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine birthday parties.
My sweet daughter who’s now a young adult with dreams of professional acting and singing who wants so much to take the Broadway stage one day.
I wanted to cling ever so tightly to the little girl who wore a plaid school jumper and sang “Jesus Take the Wheel” in her third grade talent show.
I wanted her back. I wanted her to hold my hand and ask to sleep in my bed and reach her arms up to me to be cuddled and carried. I wanted the little girl who leaned her head on my shoulder during church and wanted me to paint her nails.
The girl who needed me for everything.
The months before graduation have been highly emotional for me. My daughter and I are very close. Our relationship has evolved as she’s gotten older, but we’ve always maintained our tight bond. As she neared graduation and adulthood, my fear grew: the fear that when she spread her wings, she would use them to fly away…from me. It’s less the geographical distance that made my heart ache and more the possible emotional and relationship distance.
I’ve been terrified that she’d stop telling me everything…that she wouldn’t want me around…that I would be expected to be a back seat spectator to her life instead of walking the path side-by-side with her, sometimes walking ahead to lead by example and make sure the path was safe.
This weekend, I sat proudly in the audience as my amazing, brilliant, beautiful daughter stepped on stage to receive her high school diploma. She had such poise and true inner beauty that she glowed. She had matured. Honor cords and a National Honor Society cowl as well as a medal and pins accented her gown. Her cap was decorated with one of her favorite phrases: All the World’s My Stage.
And indeed it is. She has the entire world at her feet to make her own choices and become what she wants to. She has made wise decisions, mature ones for a teenager. She has a plan for her future and she knows that all the best plans come from God and His big dreams for us.
She’s in that place where she still needs me but she’s trying not to as much. But I have enough wisdom to know that even at my age, I still want and need my mom even though she’s been gone two decades.
My relationship with my daughter has been so strong and I have faith in us, faith that she will know I’m always here and will keep me close while she tests the waters of adulthood. I have confidence in us, that our relationship has grown the unbreakable mother and daughter bond that age and time will never fracture.
But I worry:
did I teach her what she needs to know?
Have I shown her how important and meaningful a personal relationship with Jesus is?
Have I taught her how to eat right? Did we eat too much pizza?? (We totally ate too much pizza).
Have I taught her not to take (or give) crap from people?
But then I realize too that there’s no expiration date on parenting. I will always be her mom. I will always watch how I live because I will still be an example to my children. And I will always be a willing teacher, a confidante, a best friend, her biggest protector and supporter.
As I watched her take that stage, tears filled my eyes (for about the tenth time during the ceremony) because I remembered.
I remembered that my sweet little girl lost her beloved Papa when she was just 6 and he was her first best friend.
I remembered that when she was just 13, her daddy took his own life leaving her and her brother (and me) with shattered hearts and far more questions than answers.
I remembered that she’s battled many things and faced challenges head-on and prevailed. Because she is strong and she is stubborn and she has faith.
I remembered that she’s had far more to deal with than seems fair. I remembered that she walked into school on day one of her freshman year of high school not knowing one. single. person. And she made a place for herself with good friends, roles on stage, and memberships in clubs.
She’s in my top two of the strongest, bravest people I know (tied with my son for first place) and I remembered that even though she’s growing up and isn’t that same little girl who depends on me for everything, she still depends on me for some things, and she will always, always be my girl.
Honor your children and snuggle them close no matter their ages,
There’s still time to enter my giveaway! It’s easy and quick to enter and don’t forget to grab the freebie too!