First there was her grade 12 registration.
i remember her grinning over my shoulder as i exclaimed in chagrin that this was my last time registering her for school...
Then, as soon as she was able, she applied for college. They conditionally accepted her. She wrote exams at the end of her first term. She was halfway done. She studied. i encouraged... i cheered. Sometimes i annoyingly reminded, pushed, prodded... i tried to be a good mama - all fumbling like a parent in the passenger side as their child hurtles down the highway for the first time, shouting instructions and pounding that imaginary brake as their child adeptly makes lane changes, weaving capably in and out of traffic.
We planned grad together.
She showed me what colours she liked and she let me put my fingerprints throughout it too. Sometimes she says that in the kitchen, we are like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and it`s true... we work well together - cooking for ten most nights and days. i guess our experience paid off cause her grad was amazing. Over 80 people showed up to honour her... There were thoughtful speeches, yummy desserts, a song, grandparents and a special cousin who travelled, friends who helped and cried and hugged and brought presents, a soft blue dress that fit like a glove. There was also one clear, sweet voice using the humorous guise of, "valedictorian speech" to give her testimony to a room of people she admires.
It was perfect, really.
Neil's cousin's wife took grad pictures, my friend did Cai's hair...
She looked so pretty... So poised and confident. So Cairo.
After two and a half years of working at Dairy Queen and putting her cheques diligently in the bank... After countless babysitting jobs, loving each little one in each family and giving her dad the majority of the money she made over all those hours and hours of toil to put in the bank for her, she scrawled out a budget for her college education. She had more than enough.
"But i get to buy you new boots..." i added unnecessarily.
She doesn't really need me...
Her diploma grades arrived, and i rudely ripped open the envelope while she was at work. i really did. i'm ashamed to admit it, but it's the truth... i justified it by saying i wouldn't want to rush to her work with the envelope if it were bad news, but the news was good. Really good. So i grabbed her sister and my keys and with an idiotic grin on my face, i rushed in and shoved the envelope in her face.
She forgave me.
Her acceptance letter followed, and her diploma followed that.
Summer was in full swing.
She bought herself a new computer.
i tried to find her the kind of backpack she wanted.
She got her course schedule, and spent some time trying to figure out how the public transit was going to work for her 8am classes.
And this week, she works her final shifts at Dairy Queen. Her little apron is worn now... The sticky ice cream spray has been washed off of it a million times... those strings are weary from being wrapped around her tiny waist shift after shift as those blue eyes met the next customer, "What can i get you?"
Another childhood, please. A little girl with platinum cotton candy hair and electric blue eyes. Chicklet teeth that were worn almost in half from chewing on her dollies fingers by the time they came loose. i'll take one of those... please.
i wasn't ready to become a mama when she came.
i couldn't fathom what it was to first make room in your body and then to be the one who woke in the night, cleaned up the vomit, wiped away tears, prayed agonized prayers over feverish bodies, teen angst and exhaustion... i couldn't imagine the next 18 years when i was only 19 when i found out she was coming. i couldn't dream of weighing it all in my head, constantly second guessing myself, 'Is she healthy? Are her eyes ok? Will she be safe on those roads? Should i have put her in more lessons? What gaps did i leave in her education? Is she wrestling out her character flaws? Does she know they're there? Does she love me? Did too much of my own baggage wash over and soil her sweet, tender heart? Does she know i did my best?'
And my "word" for this year... or phrase, i guess, has been learning to "surrender - changing my heart of stone for a heart of flesh".. i have been learning to strive less and surrender more - and how many beautiful opportunities has my Saviour given me during this transitional season to learn that tender lesson? He's such a gentle shepherd... he knows the striving is futile... and breaking me of this futile habit, while painful, will be for my own good...
First there was her grade 12 registration. The beginning of the ending.
But, by tender mercies out of my hands, she's still here for awhile. She'll live at home while she takes her classes at a community college. We'll still traipse and dance around that kitchen as adeptly as we ever have. The donuts will still be made on the first day of snow and the little brothers will still get more time to make some memories as she continues to transition and strengthens her wings to fly...