You graduated from high school yesterday. It's so weird, because you were just born yesterday.
Your last seventeen years have stormed my brain these past few months as I've combed through pictures for the almighty graduation party. The picture-gathering turned out to be a fairly profound experience–something more than therapeutic, bordering on spiritual.
You might be surprised to know this, but I often wonder if I've done everything right...any thing right. Or if you're armed with all the appropriate bits of knowledge and personal mantras as you step off into the world.
I think you are. You've always seemed ready to take on the world. But when you find yourself alone, in a situation wondering what to do, think back upon your life growing up here. Memories can be a well-spring.
Do you remember...
- telling me being "brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble"? Circa. 2000, quoting Mufasa at age 3, around the time of your Lion King fixation? Keep that piece of advice nearby, especially when you decide to accept that journalism assignment overseas.
- wearing your "people" shirt for weeks on end? Despite my attempts to hide the dingy, psychedelic tee, and my introduction of new fancier garments? You'd always manage to come strolling out of your bedroom, copping that bold three-year-old attitude in that unrelenting people shirt. We certainly had our share of clothing debates through the years, but you always held your ground. And what a lovely sense of style you've developed by not listening to me. Always hold your ground. Unless you want to start dressing like your banker mama.
- venturing off to find the restroom in a crowded mall when you were only four? While I was securing Cole in a stroller? Maintain that conquering, wandering spirit. But don't forget your mother's frantic expression when she found you. Dangers lurk.
- asking me, repeatedly, if I still loved you after Cole joined the family? I will always, always reassure my love for you. Take my lead. Always reassure your love to the people you hold dearest.
- your attachment to unconventional objects? Justine's blanket. (The Cabbage Patch doll accessory more loved than the actual doll.) The ferret photo you carried around for months. "Pretty" candy wrappers you'd save in your room. Five trillion stuffed animals with varying textures to vex your already awful allergies. I can still walk into your room and find a trove of eccentricities. Forgive me for admonishing you for touching every product on the shelves when we entered a store–clerks are weird about that stuff though. But don't ever lose that innate curiosity and ability to find value in the overlooked.
- wanting to become an artist and a worker at Dairy Queen? Of course, you had many other aspirations, but I couldn't wait to tell you, when you grew up, that reaching your dream of working at Dairy Queen would be very achievable. As for the artist thing, I never once thought that you wouldn't be some kind of artist during your lifetime.
- creating, creating, and creating some more? Such as the music which should've been performed on YouTube or American Idol, as expertly judged by me. Or the paintings which have adorned so many of our walls. Or the stories that only slightly resembled the Harry Potter plots. No matter what you do, don't EVER QUIT CREATING.
- finally, the tears you cried? I remember them. Vividly. Sometimes they were loud. Dramatic. Other times, they were quiet, meek. Too often, I didn't feel you wanted my compassion, either out of embarrassment or your straight-out toughness. But I forced it on you anyway. And I prayed more urgently for your peace. Mothers are meant to be cried on. Forever. Set me up on Snapchat again before you leave for college so I can be ready for your tears.
Well, sort of. You can leave, but we'll never let you go.