First day of kindergarten
Last day of high school.
Same front door. Same mom taking the picture. Same bright smile. Each time she picked a favorite dress and hitched a backpack over her shoulders.
Tomorrow she puts on her cap and gown and walks across that stage. And I will cry.
I've spent some time trying to figure out how to stop myself from crying. Some people feel it's not acceptable in public. I have cynical friends who never cry about anything. I cry at everything. I was in the graduation aisle of the party store and got misty-eyed at all the celebration supplies.
I think that if I can understand the emotion behind the crying, I might be able to use logic to avoid being overwhelmed by it. So I've been thinking about graduation and what it means, and why it's making me cry.
It's the happy cry of victory. She made it. I made it. I did this parenting thing. And it all turned out okay. She's made it to adulthood. She made it into one of her top choice colleges. She proudly put her enthusiasm into the decoration of her morterboard:
Not only did she get in with huge merit scholarships, but she got accepted into their study abroad program next Spring. She'll spend four months in Scotland. From there she plans to travel to Italy in the Summer to teach English. She's already made contacts and plans on that front. She's ready for the world.
Which brings me to the obvious reason for tears. She's leaving. Really leaving. She'll be home for Christmas but beyond that I can't see when.
Nobody really warns you about this part of parenting. When you finish your job, if you've done it right, you become obsolete. Sure, she'll still need some money and some advice, and some help, but the big day-to-day job of parenting is done. Too late now to make sure the childhood was happy. Too late now to build any more sweet mundane memories.
It's over. Summer camps and ballet lessons and sleepovers with friends. Cooking s'mores for breakfast and late night mac and cheese. Midnight movie openings and book releases and vacations at Disneyland. She's working this summer and then packing off to school.
I caught her napping yesterday on the couch.
Wrapped in a quilt, blissfully at rest. Which reminded me of this: