I've started going through pictures of my daughter from infancy up till now. Eighteen years worth. I’m doing this in preparation for the graduation party video I was going to create (now she is), and for the surprise scrapbook I'm making for her to take to college with her. (No longer a surprise because I accidentally mentioned it and now she keeps removing any pictures where she thinks she looks the least bit funny. Like this one:
Bah, ha, ha, ha! I love having my own blog where I still have the freedom to embarrass her when I can.
Anyway, going through all these pictures unavoidably conjures up a lot of bittersweet memories. Then I start thinking about this fall when she'll head off to college and, well, I'm trying not to feel sad, but…unavoidable. It's also unavoidable that I flash back to my own college days.
To the memory of my parents driving me up to campus the week before school started. Helping me cram my stuff into the tiny dorm room I would share with four complete strangers. I was so nervous I was sick. My parents took me out for ice cream before they left and I couldn't even eat it. Couldn't eat ICE CREAM! You know it was bad.
Ironically, I'd been the initiator. I'd begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to go away to school instead of commuting. But when the very thing I'd hoped for actually happened--I was terrified! My parents claimed at the time they were sad, too. But as I stood sobbing, watching them peel out of the dormitory parking lot, tires squealing as they zoomed back home to their remaining kids, I was certain they were really thinking, "Woo hoo! One down, three more to go!"
Of course now, as I'm facing my own turn in this role, I know they were more likely thinking, "My baby is going to college! I can't believe it. I've had so much fun with her, and now it's time for me to let her go, even while a part of me inside is crying and whining, 'I don't wanna, I don't wanna!'"
But it's inexorable. My baby girl is about to embark on a new adventure! And it will be exciting and wonderful and she'll remember this time for the rest of her life. I just wish I didn't feel like I was going to be stuck back in the old adventure. Without her.
We'll no longer enjoy breezy conversations when she walks in the door from school. We'll no longer have our bedtime chats, where under the cover of darkness she's shared everything from the trivial to her most secret thoughts and dreams. No longer will I be able to kiss her soft cheek good night, every night. And instead of my home filled with the chattering, laughing voices of her friends playing goofy games and watching movies, there will be…an empty space.
The comfortable, normal world of our relationship will have to change. (Change is a skill I'm not particularly good at.) I'll now have to make a point to call her on the phone (and get better at texting!). And hopefully our relationship will simply morph into a new kind of comfortable and normal.
Then maybe I'll realize I'm not really stuck in the old adventure without her, but instead I'm embarking on a new adventure myself: as the mom of a college student. (And a high school student—don't think I've forgotten you, sweet Joshua. We're going to have so much fun shopping together and sharing our feelings with each other. Bah, ha, ha!)
I will miss her something fierce.
But my precious baby girl has grown into this amazing, confident, faith-filled, beautiful young woman. And really, that's been the whole point all along, hasn't it?