It was just yesterday that I held you in my arms. You were the sweetest most beautiful little girls and truly a blessing in every way. How could I be so lucky as to have these amazing gifts? We had fun with Playdough, puzzles, dress up and watching the girls take flight on the playground swings. Who can forget chasing seagulls and collecting seashells on Captiva Island and those incredible sunsets? So fortunate to have had Grandma and Grandpa to watch you and share in your toddler years. There was such a sense of peace and joy.
The first milestones in learning to let go were pre-school. After a careful review, we found Happi Tymes Christian. Your cousins had attended there in years past. I can still remember the classroom, how it was set up, and your little faces as you learned this would be your new daily routine. Would you be ok and get the best education there? Who would be your best friends? What would be your favorite classes? As in anything in life, once you grow used to one phase, another comes along.
Next came St. Thomas the Apostle (STA) Catholic School and this was yet another adjustment. With elementary and junior high school in one place, those years brought challenges, yet the familiarity and routine and our surroundings made for less stressful times. We had magical birthday celebrations, play dates and family time. There was endless joy watching you playing in the backyard with our dog Gypsy. It was incredible to discover that you and your sister had a penchant for cooking. Oh, those surprise dinners for Daddy and me during summer time when you got Grandma to let you take over the kitchen. There were so many moments that will forever be etched in my mind: student of the month, honor roll, the beautiful songs at choir and the adorable notes and crafts I have saved throughout the years.
I will always recall when the uniforms changed, though. This was a sure sign that change was upon us. Gone were the days of the shorts and polo, the romper dress with polo. Now you were a pre-teen with a more grown up skirt and dress shirt. All of a sudden, the thoughts rushed in, the vision that our little girl will soon fade into our memories and the young lady will start to emerge. I yearned for the past yet anticipated the future. Bittersweet and unforgettable times for me and for all mothers.
With graduation from STA came a memory of an older parent who said, “High school races by, it’s only four years.” How very true. As you settled in to high school, the rigors of education, the emergence of social media, the time we became a taxi system, I wanted to put the brakes on, but life was moving very fast.
Now we enter the terrifying chapter of learning to drive in Miami. I never thought I would teach my daughters to drive. I tried the first time around. That was interesting, sometimes enjoyable. But in the middle of the process I realized there are some things it is truly best to pay for! Another more experienced and wise mom introduced us to Norma. She was a godsend. Every parent should have a car with two steering wheels and brakes, especially in our town. We mastered this and now we had to move on to college with our firstborn.
Would she actually go out of town? I didn’t and I’m just fine. Well, yes she would. She loved Gainesville and so in a flash we were learning about Ikea furniture and how much we needed to do to prepare. It seemed far off, yet time is short when you want it to slow down. This is the first in the adventures of Mom & Dad Moving Inc. (From 2012 to the present we have orchestrated a total of 10 or so moves between the two girls). We made every attempt to set our eldest up with all she’d need and then that dreaded moment came. We went to lunch at Cody’s on Archer. The Last Supper may have been more fun. We tried to eat, but the meal just would not go down. We cried and now we stood at the door. We tried to make it fast, but it was not. Then we finally made our way to the car, I see her waving goodbye on the steps at Stratford Court. Oh my God. She’ll be alone and braving the unknown.
There were lots of phone calls, on way to class, at the grocery store, you name it. Time made things easier. I still had my youngest at home and now it was her turn to be an only child for a while. We had lots of time together. But, with each day, the clock ticked closer to her departure as well. Soon enough, the summer of 2013 roared by and once again our destination was Gator Nation, Gainesville. At least we had them in one spot and could visit them together.
We knew better than to try going out to lunch at Cody’s. This farewell was tear-filled as we stood by the doorway of what would become our girl’s new home. This farewell hit us hard, especially my husband. Seems like the finality of the chapter suddenly struck him. For me, it was the road home and the weeks that followed and walking by the two empty rooms.
The juggling of calls and texts at times became a challenge, but it was so nice to be such a source of information and support. It’s very rewarding to see your children come to you for advice to tackle situations and new opportunities. As my youngest daughter chose to seek part time employment while in college, this brought new parenting adventures. Who would believe this once reticent little girl would work at a call center to raise money! It was so fun to hear from her after her shift or on her way to her work. Great stories were always awaiting me.
Graduations have now passed, and the new normal is that my eldest resides in the Midwest, working on a master’s/doctorate. Mostly gone are the calls in between classes or on way to work. Life is very busy and its demands are all consuming. We remain close and share in the special moments. Thankfully there is FaceTime and texting. This keeps us up to date. The next milestone is the hooding ceremony as she transitions to opening the chapter to obtain her Ph.D. My youngest is back home and will soon start law school here in Miami. We have wonderful times together watching girlie shows and shopping. I have time to dedicate to couples’ outings and dinners with friends. There is a balance and joy in seeing our girls flourish and find their place in the world, yet every so often, I reminisce about those early years when they ran to the door when I came home, “How was your day momma? Look what I made for you..”
Throughout the years, I have always recalled a past young newlywed staff member’s story. She confided that her Mom was so sad and missed her so much, yet this young staff member was having such a great time adjusting to her new life and relishing each moment of her marriage. I am a detail person and some conversations stay with me. Maybe I tuck them away so I can find solace in them one day. So it has been with this particular conversation. Our children must go on, leave the nest and soar. We need to treasure the memories, yet live in the moment, finding joy in all that is ahead of us.