I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crisp dress, two twinkling eyes, a happy laugh that ripples all day long and a flash of shiny hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
She's slipping out of the back yard of my heart this morning and skipping off down the street to her first day of school -- and never again will she be completely mine. Frail and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say "good-bye" and walk with little lady steps to the school house.
Now she'll learn to stand in lines and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school bells and deadlines and she'll learn to giggle and gossip and look to the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy across the aisle sticks out his tongue at her.
And now she'll learn to be jealous.
She'll learn how it feels to be hurt inside.
She'll learn how not to cry.
No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch steps on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the side walk. Nor will she have time to pop out of the bed with the dawn and kiss the lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important things. Things like grades, and which dress to wear and whose best friend is whose. The books and learning will replace the blocks and dolls. Now she'll find new heroes.
For five full years now, I've been her sage and Santa-Claus and pal and playmate and mother and friend. Now she'll learn to share her love with her teachers, which is only right, but no longer will I be the smartest, greatest woman in the whole world.
Today when that school bell rings for the first time she'll learn what it means to be a member of a group with all of its privileges and disadvantages too. She'll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud or kiss dogs or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.
Today she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends and I'll stand at the front porch and watch her start out on that long lonely journey to becoming a woman.
So world I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crisp dress, two twinkling eyes, a happy laugh that ripples all day long and a flash of shiny hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
~Author Unknown (to me, at least)
It has been a melancholy month for me. I have avoided writing about it, because it's been a little painful, even though it's a normal time of transition. But now, I can avoid it no longer. It must come out of me, and so I finally turn to a blank page, and write...
First, I want to share a photo that, when I first saw it, made me both laugh and cry:
This little darling is my neice. She is six. She is pure joy to me, and maybe it's because I have learned what happens when little girls grow up, but I cherish every minute I get with her. She reminds me of my oldest daughter Sarah, so very much at that age.
The picture speaks to me on a deep level. It reveals such joy and innocence -- and complete abandon.
When my Sarah was this age, I thought her childhood would last forever. And though I remember sending her off to her first day of school, there came a day when she was entering sixth grade and I chose to take her back, and homeschool her, and her siblings. The reasons were several, and immaterial to my point today, but if you wonder why I chose this route, ask me! I will gladly share my story.
Anyway, the homeschool journey has been a huge success for Sarah, and for me. Amazing. It has been the same for her brother and sister as well. Though the choice to homeschool isn't for everyone, it works for us, and the results have been better than I could have dreamed.
This year Sarah was a Senior, and this summer, I figured grades, and issued my first High School transcript. Sarah graduated with honors, and it was a milestone. Her dad and I took Senior pictures, and they were beautiful.
We had a crazy, busy summer, and in August, she enrolled in two classes at the local community college. It was exciting to go with her and tour the campus, and help her choose classes. She also started a new job last spring, and is working close to 40 hours a week, to save for a car, and any extra college expenses for the Spring semester, when she will take a full load of classes.
We threw a huge graduation party for her on Labor Day weekend. Surprised her with a video of photos from birth to this year, complete with songs ranging from "Blower's Daughter" and "My Funny Valentine" to "Sara Smile". She plans to live at home for a couple of years, taking classes here, and then she will transfer to an out-of-state college. Right now she's considering a couple of schools in Dallas. So, I figure it will be a gradual leaving-home process. It's an exciting time, and most of it is good. Though, once in a while, she pulls away, abruptly, in her quest for independence, and my heart is left feeling sore and bruised. I know it's a natural process, but it's not easy.
I am beginning to realize, that something has shifted without warning. For the first time in seven years I am not planning lessons for Sarah. She is a student elsewhere, learning from others. She is working full time at Applebee's and I rarely see her.
She comes home at night, after a long day of school and work, only to slip into her room -- fall to sleep -- and wake early in the morning to do it all again. I am thankful to spend a few minutes with her at the end of the day, or go to Starbucks and chat over coffee with her for an hour on the weekend. She is busy. Her life is full, and she can only see ahead to her exciting future.
As it should be.
But I can see the past. And I hear the clock ticking. I hold my niece and listen to her stories about school, and her puppy, and her new purse. And I am homesick for the young Sarah. I am homesick for the Sarah of last year, the Sarah of last week.
I know the day is coming quickly, when she will pack her bags and move even further away from me, down the road of life. I hope on that day we will celebrate, and rejoice. That is our plan. I expected that I would cry on that day, after she was gone. I didn't know I would cry so much this summer and fall, as her life changed so swiftly before my eyes.
But I do cry.
Today, I am lonely for her conversation, her face, her presence somewhere in the house. Somehow she snuck out into the great big world -- without any fanfare. And I sit here at home, and stare at her empty chair, and listen for her laughter, that is not there.
World, please treat her well.