Lately, I have been experiencing senior moments at a fast and furious rate, and I just want them to slow down, at least a bit. Actually, I want them to slow down a lot. These senior moments are completely unrelated to my fiftieth birthday that is looming in the not so distant future. They are not even my senior moments. These particular moments belong to my daughter.
Next week, my oldest daughter, will begin her senior year of high school. Classes may not be back in session yet, but her senior moments have been in full swing since last spring, when a senior class member and friend slipped my daughter’s senior ring onto her finger. With that one small gesture, she became a rising senior, and she has risen to the occasion ever since.
This summer has created many more senior moments. Senior class pictures. College visits. Prepping for the ACT. Finalizing registration. Purchasing school books. Creating memories with friends. The arrival of the school year will bring other senior moments, along with a plethora of lasts-school dances, tennis matches, assemblies, retreats, and so forth. The last first day of high school will send her down the path toward her last last day of high school, and that day will be here in no time at all.
As I watch her prepare to end one chapter of her life and begin a new one, I think back to when she was a baby. I remember staring at her, as silent questions formed in my sleep deprived mind. What will she look like as she grows up? What will she like to do? What will her personality be like? Who will her friends be? And on and on.
Over the years, these questions have been answered, and now new ones take their place. Where will she go to college? What major will she select? What will be her profession? Will she maintain her high school friendships and make lasting college friendships like I did? These questions will remain unanswered for the time being, and I have mixed emotions watching her set off to discover these answers and many more.
Selfishly, I do not want her to leave home. Her Dad and I have prepared her for this moment over the years, and while she is ready, I find myself woefully unprepared. She and her sister are the greatest joys and loves of my life, and simply being in their presence lights up my face and my heart. So, the thought that she will be living in another city and, possibly, another state makes my heart ache and the tears flow. Leave it to one of my own senior moments to help ease the sadness, though.
Recently, I took her on two college visits, one being to my alma mater, the University of Dayton (UD). UD holds a truly special place in my heart, and the decision to go there changed the trajectory of my life. With less than a month before I graduated from the same high school my daughter attends, I decided that I did not want to go to the university I had selected. I stunned my family and friends alike with this last-minute announcement, because I had been dead set on attending this school and only applied to what I considered back up schools, UD being one of them, because my parents made me. I am forever grateful that they did, because that is how I ended up where I was meant to be. The education and life experiences helped to shape who I am as a person today, and the friendships I made have been among the most enduring and meaningful in my life. I love UD, and I love my Flyer friends even more.
Given my sentiment for the university and my cherished memories there, in addition to the fact that I am a crier by nature, it came as no surprise to my daughter or me when I shed happy tears, as I turned off of the exit that led us toward campus. I first recalled the hurried campus visit my Mom and I took 32 years ago, and I remembered the very moment when I knew that I had found my second home. As my daughter and I toured the campus and saw all of the places where I had lived, learned, loved, and, yes, partied, the tears continued. This college visit also reminded me of something that my daughter had said to me last fall.
As the college brochures began to occupy more and more space in our mailbox, I suggested that she could always live at home and take all of her college classes on-line. I was kidding. Kind of. She responded by saying, Mom, you always talk about how college was four of the best years of your life. Don’t you want the same experience for me? Of course, she was right, and of course, I do.
So, as I stood in the place that still means the world to me and was surrounded by memories, I thought about what she had said to me months ago. Whether she makes these memories at UD or another university does not matter to me, but what does matter is that she makes her own memories, has her own experiences, develops her own friendships and relationships, receives a well-rounded education, and makes her dreams come true. I want all of that and more for her, and I know that she cannot do that living with me the rest of her life.
In the meantime, she is excited about all of the upcoming senior moments, and I plan to savor them along with her. By the time she heads out next August, I will be ready to let her go. Maybe.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story