I’ve never had a 14 year-old child before and so when I first heard that we were invited to her Grade 8 Graduation my heart sank a bit. The chaos that is the month of June to parents with school-age children can overwhelm, to say the least. During June I feel like I’m doggy-paddling just to keep my head above the water that constantly threatens to wash over me. One day last week, I had seven separate events entered into one day’s agenda entry in my planner. Seven. Separate. Events. There are piano recitals, honor and effort role assemblies, Classroom Talent Shares, Guitar lessons, French lessons, myriad fieldtrips and countless other things to factor in. There are end-of-the-year youth group events and don’t even get me started on the hockey playoffs and what the timing of them did to my mental health.
It also seems that more babies are born in the months of April, May and June than at other times of the year, if the number of parties my kids are invited to during these Spring and early Summer months are any indication. All of this to say that I’m very much like a frantic chicken with her head cut off these days. And so going into Grade 8 Grad, I was just pleased that I’d managed to get everyone’s teeth brushed and their hair done. Oliver even wore a tie, which not only made me smile every time I looked at him over the course of the evening from the sheer cuteness of the sight, also sent a little stab of maternal pleasure down my spine as I ruminated upon how presentable my littlest man looked. The rest of them looked lovely, too, and we weren’t even late. So I sat there and rested a while as we waited for the various 14-year-olds to walk in one by one arrayed beautifully in their specifically toned down finery. This isn’t high school graduation, afterall, we were most wisely cautioned.
So I sat there, watching the auditorium fill with doting families and the magnitude of the thing began to impress upon me. My child is leaving me by degrees and as sucky-baby-ish as I’ve been about the prospect over the years, I see now that the process feels good and right, even. She is learning to live life without me, which is precisely as it should be. Soon it is her turn to walk down the aisle, all eyes upon her. We called out to her so that she’d know where we were sitting, admiring, and in response she did the very most perfect Anabel dance for a moment or two in vastly preferable lieu of the more ordinary saunter. My heart surged with a pride that burned hotly inside my chest. I felt so delighted in that moment that that beautiful girl belonged to me. Someday she’ll leave here to start up a life of her own that doesn’t owe any of its daily timbre to me and my tastes or preferences, but I know with certainty now that it’s ok because she goes where she needs to, to blossom best and to create her most beautiful life. Knowing this is sufficient compensation.