Sunday, May 25, 2008

Graduation - Part 3 - The Nitty Gritty

I don't know how I managed to do it, but I got through today without a melt-down. Had a couple of really, really close calls, but I managed not to get into a fight with anybody or to sob uncontrollably, even though I wanted to do both at various times -- occasionally simultaneously.

My baby girl graduated from high school today.

On the one hand, that should not be such a big deal. She will continue to live at home while going to community college for a couple of years. She will continue to work in the same job she has had since she was fifteen. As a practical matter, nothing will change in the immediate future. In emotional terms, everything is different. I can't believe I managed to get through the day without an emotional outburst. [I saved it for now.]
  • It seems like only yesterday I held her in my arms for the first time and she looked up at me with those huge blue eyes that seemed to belong to a very "old soul." After a terrible delivery that lasted more than 21 hours and ended in an emergency C-section, I held a baby in my arms who looked at me as though she were rather bored and irritated by the whole experience. I should have felt warned by that!
  • It seems like only yesterday I wrapped her in the "blankie" that had been my security blanket in my early childhood and nursed her in my husband's rocking chair, listening (and crying) to lullaby's on tape while she regarded me with a mixture of curiosity and disdain.
  • It seems like only yesterday I dropped her off at day care for the first time, and listened to her scream pathetically, "Mommy, don't leeeeeeeeeave me." I started smoking cigarettes again at the very thought.
  • It seems like only yesterday she "graduated" from kindergarten telling the assembled parents and relatives that she wanted to be lifeguard when she grew up. That was when we lived in Ohio and "Baywatch" was her favorite show. Once we moved to Florida and she learned about rip currents, sharks, sting rays and other beach hazards, she changed her mind about that pretty quickly.
  • It seems like only yesterday she went off to middle school, nervous and scared, but not half as scared as I was.
  • It seems like only yesterday we went to orientation at Spruce Creek High School with its thousands of students. She thought it was exciting. I wanted to throw up at the very thought of her attending such a huge school.
  • It seems like only yesterday she came home all a-twitter over the wonderful boy she met at work..... the wonderful boy who has been her boyfriend ever since then ....
  • It seems like only yesterday she was a nervous wreck over graduation, worried mostly that her father and I would embarrass her in some way..... oh, no, wait a minute, that WAS only yesterday..... and she had great justification for her fears because both her dad and I were train wrecks waiting to happen.

Today, she marched into the Ocean Center and claimed her diploma. My baby's a Young Woman now.

I thought it was scary to hold a new-born baby in my arms and know I was responsible for her care and nurture. Letting her go eighteen years later is an even bigger hurdle!

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