This week marks the beginning of another school year for my daughters. While my youngest daughter is returning to the same elementary school she has attended since kindergarten, my oldest daughter will head off to high school. Not just any high school. The same high school that my two older sisters and I attended. As the second generation of our family prepares to walk through the same hallways that the first generation did, I find myself feeling rather detached and ambivalent about it.
Let me make clear that I am anything but ambivalent about my daughter and this next phase of her life, but I am ambivalent and somewhat detached about her following in my footsteps. I thought that I would feel excited about her continuing a tradition that was started many years ago, but I am not. Perhaps, because she is not following in my footsteps as much as she is blazing her own trail with her own two feet. She may be in the same building that I once occupied, but we are not the same people. No, she took the best of her Dad and me and made it far better.
When she was choosing which high school to attend, she asked me if my older sisters and I would be mad at her, if she did not pick our alma mater. I reassured her that we would not be upset with her at all, and I meant it. I emphasized that while my overall high school experience was positive, my experience was not a predictor of what these next four years would hold for her, and I encouraged her to make this decision based on what she wanted, not what anyone else wanted. I created my own memories and had my own experiences there, and now, it is her turn.
One of the many things I love and admire about my oldest daughter is that she always has pursued what makes her happy, even if it is not what her peers choose to do. She is her own person, and it is my fervent hope that high school does not change that about her. She is going to face more challenges and have greater opportunities than I ever had at her age, and while I will be there to support and guide her, I want her to choose her path and follow it wherever it may lead her. I don’t want her to follow in my footsteps, because she was born to leave her unique mark on this world and all of those who are so fortunate to know her. She is extraordinary, and she is everything that I am and everything I am not.
There is so very much I want to tell my sweet and innocent girl. Study hard, but understand that there is more, much more, to these next four years than academics. Cultivate friendships with genuine and kind people. Hold off on dating for as long as you want, for you will spend the rest of your life navigating the murky waters of romantic relationships. Know who you are, and be proud of who you are as much as you are proud of what you do. Have fun, lots and lots of fun. Be who you are, and don’t change for anyone other than yourself. Always remember that mistakes are among the greatest teachers you will ever have, so, don’t be afraid to stumble. When you do stumble, get back up and move on. Dream big, because there is no point in playing it small in this life. Know that no matter what happens, I always will love you and be here for you. Always.
She is as ready as she will ever be, and so am I. I look forward to seeing the footprints she leaves over these next four years, and I just hope that she walks slowly, as I cannot even begin to think about sending her off to college. One step at a time, though.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story