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May 26

Last Day of High School

I remember her first day of kindergarten, how Sam cried so hard. He was angry that I let her walk away with her class. She’s my first, so I’m always figuring out how to do things with her. I think sometimes we miss that reality – that we’re always a new mom when it comes to the oldest. With Sam and Julie – there’s a sense of “Oh – I remember this.” I’ve survived a tween hiding in their rooms forever. I’ve survived fifth grade math (or at least learned the websites I can check to relearn what I need to know). I’ve handled middle school binders, high school class selection. I can do this.

I’ve never done a high school graduation before.

I know she’s got her cap and gown. I’ve raved over both potential graduation dresses. I know that on a Tuesday night in a few weeks, I’m going to watch her accept her diploma and officially end her childhood. Because that’s what this is. College isn’t full on adulthood – she’ll have training wheels. She’ll have a cafeteria, and someone else handling all the details of paying the electric bill and shoveling out the walkway. Her job will be studying. And making friends, learning who she is as an independent person. But she won’t be a child anymore.

I think I’m ready for this. I think I’m prepared. She pays for her own clothes, her own coffee. She doesn’t run everything by me anymore. Most things, the big things, sure. But she used to tell me everything. She doesn’t need to anymore. She’s suddenly bigger, older. She’s holding down a job, two, soon to be three, with another babysitting job on the side. She’s managing roommate questions, following up on celiac accommodations. Ordering clothes, organizing what she needs for college. She’s outgrown most of what I do. She doesn’t need a wake up in the mornings, or for me to do her laundry. I don’t need to make sure she brushes her teeth or does her homework. I haven’t needed to do any of that for such a long time – but it’s suddenly hitting me that she’s outgrown so much of what we think of as “mothering.”

Our relationship has been changing since the moment she was born. She was always feircely independent, deciding for herself when she’d fall asleep and how, when she’d nurse, when she’d transition to solids and she walked when she was damn good and ready – not at all on my time table. She’s danced that line between being a mini-me and being her own self. She’s everything I wanted her to be. She’s smart and beautiful, kind and empathetic, polite and wickedly sarcastic. She’s maternal and has an ability to know what to say at the right time to make someone laugh when they’re terrified or so scared they can’t see straight. She’s the quintessential big sister, and I’m going to miss her like I’d miss my right hand when she moves away.

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