I was alternately cheering and sobbing for about 10 days. The school has a ton of rituals as the girls head towards their commencement — it’s not a one-day deal.
Even though my daughter is staying in the city for college and will be living in a dormitory pretty close by, it’s still an ending to a long chapter that flew by.
A big part of my job as a parent is complete; my husband and I have successfully raised her from infancy to young adulthood.
She may boomerang back to us for a few more years, but she’s technically an adult now.
I’m a very emotional person, so I’ve practiced feeling sort of sweetly devastated about this transition since the end of her junior year. That’s just how I roll — I don’t fight it anymore.
I would constantly well up when I imagined the future of her walking across that commencement ceremony stage … putting those XL twin sheets on her dormitory bed … of not hearing the sound of her pile of keychains coming through the front door every day.
“My life will never be the same,” I sobbed over and over again.
I looked at this as purely a loss for a very long time.
And then something turned over in me this past Monday.
Her diploma was on display, the beautiful graduation party was over and my young adult went down to the health department to get her requirements updated so she could start lifeguarding again this summer.
Just a regular old Monday.
I woke up and thought to myself, “My life will never be the same.”
I didn’t cry for the first time in as long as I can remember.
Instead of leaning into the loss of her girlhood, I started to see what we are all going to gain.
She’s going to get more independence and an education.
For the first time, I realized that I am going to gain a ½ empty nest (I’ve still got the 11-year-old boy lol) versus having something ripped from me.
This will be a different level of independence for me in my 40s and (coming soon!) 50s.
The upleveled freedom of middle age that I hear older women talking about? It’s happening.
I get to have a new kind of relationship with my kid — and with myself.
When you’re in that space of a transition where life is breaking open, and you’re not sure if it’s what you want (or maybe you’re for damn sure that it isn’t what you want), I hope you can beat that question to death and wring out your pain or disappointment as long as you need to do that.
And then, somewhere along the way — in hours, days, weeks, months or years from now — I hope you can reframe it and see what’s possible.
In the end, that’s truly the only choice we have — to stay in the darkness of a thought, or step into the light and imagine what’s possible.
I’ve paid for daycare, preschool, parochial school, and Catholic high school for 18 years.
I’ve launched a smart, compassionate, confident, unique, independent, playful, kind and fierce young woman into the world.
My life will never be the same.
Well done, Laura Wagner.