Leonard Pitts, a Miami Herald columnist and author, wrote a great letter to his daughter who graduated from high school this year. His description of his daughter resonated with me: “That was 17 years ago, 17 years that have moved as cheetahs move. The infant is a toddler, the toddler is a little girl, the little girl is an adolescent, the adolescent is you, a girl on the verge of womanhood, graduating high school — with honors! — this spring, going to college in the fall.” So, I get a little emotional thinking about my daughter growing up, just like Leonard’s. It was just yesterday that my daughter and I were going for walks around the neighborhood noticing each flower and tree and bug along the way. Every trip was a new experience – whether to the zoo, to the grandparents or to the library.
My daughter graduated from high school this year, too. Here is a picture of us following the ceremony:
And today is the end of all of the planning leading up to the graduation festivities and all of the graduation festivities of the past week. My daughter and my niece are the first grandchildren in our family to graduate from high school – luckily the niece graduated three days before my daughter so family members could attend both. There are five other cousins who will be following in their footsteps. And, hopefully, four years from now, we will be celebrating their graduation from college. The grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all made the trip to the graduation. Initially, my daughter did not think it was necessary to make such a big deal about graduating from high school. And, at one point, I agreed. However, as the day came closer and everyone was making plans to attend, the importance of this day became apparent.
I never really knew how high school graduation could be such an emotional time – especially with an only child and a daughter. The last several months have been a series of ups and downs for my daughter – happy with friends one day and frustrated with them the next, enjoying school one day and despising it the next, wanting to complete the school work at her academic level one day and then just doing the work to just get by the next, having warm conversations with her parents one day and ignoring them the next, and then finally, understanding the importance of graduation one day and then questioning its significance the next. I had originally believed that the final semester of high school would be one of the most enjoyable. Little did I know the range of emotions that would go along with this time in life – the emotions of growing up, of letting go, of saying good bye to much of what has been security in school, of the realization that things are changing and then, learning to accept these emotions and changes in preparation for the next stage of life.
As with many things in life, it is a time to feel and embrace the emotions and embrace where life will lead. And, now to get her organized to go to college. Unlike studying for many high school tests, going off to college cannot be done the night before :-).