Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Ride is Over

Just like that, my firstborn finished High School earlier this month.
For the past several years, we've been on the roller coaster ride that bursts out of the shoot only to whiplash you into the interminably long uphill climb. You know the one - where the cars jerk along jaggedly and you fearfully question the capability of the engineers who built the damn thing, only to remember that hundreds of people waited in line ahead of you to head up that bumpy ride, and hundreds wait behind you, anticipating the first drop with limb-numbing anxiety.

Getting through the teenage years is a lot like an unpredictable roller coaster ride. But what people don't often talk about is the joyride in the middle. After the first plunge to your death, when your teen does something really boneheaded and stupid, things kind of right themselves and sail along, at a very fast pace, sometimes smoothly like loop de loops, and sometimes herky jerky like sudden plunges 90 degrees either way, but our experience was fun, for the most part.

A few weeks ago, The Princess asked me if I'd cried yet. I looked at her, a little dumbfounded. "No. Am I supposed to?"

"Well, Taylor's mom cries every day."
Suddenly I felt like a shitty mom. If anything, I'm counting down the days until I'm at the cabin alone for five glorious days.

"No. Can't say I've cried."
"Well, you're really not that emotional."

She got me wondering. Is something wrong with me? Why haven't I cried at the fact that this little runt is leaving us forever this fall?
Maybe it's because we already practiced. She left us every summer for nine years and we all survived. I cried that first summer when the camp director called to tell me that yes, she was homesick, but only at night and she was fully engaged during the day. I cried when she came home after a few years of camp and I had to break the news to her that one of her counselors suddenly died. I cried when she struggled socially, trying so hard to create a social network of friends in middle school, but still felt left out. I cried when I told her Grandpa Ron died. I cried when her sexist teacher told her the only thing she'd ever use Physics for is to vacuum her carpet and mop her floor. I cried when she agonized over boys, not fully realizing or appreciating her remarkable and captivating self.

While I haven't cried when society says I should - out of the blue, on her last day of school, during the graduation ceremony, etc., I have cried along the way - and not just about the sad stuff. Happy tears flowed when she rode a "green" horse at a show this past season. I truly feared for her life, only to see her ride brilliantly and command that horse. She dismounted and I proudly displayed the ugly cry for all to see - snotty nose, raucous hiccups and all.

The day she texted me that UW Madison accepted her as a Direct Admit in their Business program - an honor reserved for a mere 150 students out of thousands who apply - I bawled so hard and so loud it immediately took me back to the day she was born. I cried so hard I could barely speak eighteen years ago, and the same happened that day when I received her text. But they were happy tears, reflecting on the climax of all the hard work over the years, for both her and us, culminating into one thrilling message.

I choose to live in the moment. I cannot tell you how many times over the past four years I stopped and the little voice in my head said, "Drink it up. Savor this. It's a fleeting moment, and it's a really, really good one. Memory-Bank the shit out of her right. this. minute."

And I did. To the parents before me who drove me batty with the cliches: "They grow so fast. In a blink of an eye, she'll be gone. You'll be so sad when it's over. Where does the time go?" I have some words for you.

On the one hand, I call bull. As I've waxed poetic before, you're not that special, and neither are your kids, because that Bitch Known as Mother Time doesn't care about anything but moving the sun around the earth and the second hand around the clock. Time doesn't discriminate, and it's the same for everyone everywhere. But despite your incessant prattling on about time passage, I owe you some thanks. Because of your unsolicited advice, I heeded the words you said, doing my best to truly live in every moment. As a result I have no regrets, and I'm not sad it's over. 

Instead, I'm excited. I cannot wait to see where our ride will take us over the next few years. I'm ready to let go. Dear Lord, PLEASE let me relinquish the controls! I'm ready to sit back and let her drive. Let her make the decisions. Let her mess up, and learn from it. Let her carve her way into the world.

My hard work is done. I'm not naïve - I know I'll get the freakout call this fall before a test that seems impossible, because of a mistake that seems irreparable, or by a flat out homesick girl that wants some of Mama's food, a good glass of red wine, and a cozy spot in front of the fire, all wrapped up in a blanket while we watch The Bachelor. 

Ok - maybe the latter will be just me. But until then, I'm going to stop sweating the fact that I'm not appropriately sad that she's moving on, and I'll just buy a ticket to the new ride.



  1. Brilliantly stated, dear friend. You have given her the tools to succeed and should be proud. Thank you for letting us all know that it really is OK to celebrate and look forward to the countless gifts the future holds. Love you! Congrats, Kahley. What a bright future you have ahead of you!

    1. Thanks Love. And thanks for listening to me when the ride was bumpy. Love you back!

  2. Amazing post, and so glad to call you friend. Good advice Kahling! You've done a tremendous job, mama! Congratulations to you, Tony, and Kahley. Keep writing!

    1. So Funny. I know this is you, Darlas. :)

    2. OH WOW! My bad. Now I'm onto you...the two of you are the only ones who still call me Kahling. :) Thanks for the sweet comment.

  3. Christine MaleckiMay 24, 2016 at 4:25 PM

    You may be my spirit animal... :-) Thank you for sharing your beautiful words!

  4. I absolutely LOVE this!! Well said.