My daughter is 16, going on college. I remember being pregnant worrying about what I would do if the baby was sick on a day I couldn't be off work. The worry was for nothing. My answer was clear the moment I saw my daughter for the very first time - all others would wait.
I received more advice than I would truly ever ask for: day care is good; day care is bad; parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do; and enjoy it now, they grow up so fast. It was all so cliché, until it wasn’t. In the blink of an eye we moved from blankets and Barbies to swimming and shopping. Today, we have bathroom counters and bedroom floors not seen in weeks, nests of blankets and pillows and socks and clothes around the house, and a zippy-little RAV 4 that is barely idle between trips to school, coffee shops, and to meet up with friends. I’ve walked into a store or looked up from my purse at a cashier counter all too often to realize the pleasantries are not directed at me. The upbeat girls and googly-eyed boys are looking right past the lady with the money to talk with my daughter.
Step by step, my daughter is creating a life of her own. I know this because I get to see her in action and because Instagram tells me so. This past summer, she was enjoying a few weeks out-of-state with a friend and her family. I hadn't heard from her for a few days so I took solace in my social media feeds. I opened Instagram and there she was on a sun-and-sand-filled beach linking arms and hugs with new friends. She was relaxed and owning the moment. In that instant, my little girl was gone and in her place was a strong, beautiful, young lady with a sense of humor, captivating blue eyes, and a smile to knock your socks off.
Everything I've known about myself and my day-to-day responsibility as a parent took a sudden and unexpected turn for me. With a full heart, I realized my work here is done; I was able to guide her safely to this point and give her what she needed to move forward with confidence and grace.
Day care was good for us and parenting requires tough choices between standing your ground and putting your fears and doubts aside to give ground. Time has flown by yet growing up is not an end. As we move on to more dynamic social dilemmas, problem-solving, ACT preparation, campus tours, and college admissions applications I have the honor of being there for my daughter in a way no Instagram photo can capture or anyone other than the kid and I can appreciate. For the forseeable future, all others will continue to wait.
Old habits die hard.