Little Girl Lost

I’m not quite sure when it started to become so obvious to me.

Obvious that my little girl isn’t so little anymore.

Was it how her body seemed to stretch overnight, and I found myself almost eye-to-eye with her now? Maybe the slight eye-roll when I said something a bit too uncool? The swing of her hair when she walked down the hall?

Maybe it was the shoes.

The 8th grade promotion shoes. Her feet are small but her need to be big is fierce. We spent hours searching for the perfect shoes for her promotion dance and ceremony.

They had to be perfect.

But being the practical mom that I am, I had guidelines for these shoes. They couldn’t be too tall or too expensive, and she had to be able to walk in them.

Simple enough.

As we searched I watched her try each new pair on her tiny little feet, gazing at herself in the store mirror with an expression I hadn’t seen before.

Then she would walk. As I bit my lip and tried not to say a word, the shoes fought her and won every time.

Too tall; can’t walk in them.

Some lessons can’t be taught by a comment from mom or an I told you so.

We finally found the shoes online…a bit too tall, but she could walk in them and they were perfect with her dress.

The kind of shoes a high school girl wears.

And it hit me.

That little girl who used to run everywhere, who was fiercely independent, who hated naps and loved horses?

She’s gone.

But in her place, I’ve found a confident young lady who is polite, caring, funny, helpful and still fiercely independent.

And I can’t wait to see what high school has in store for her.

 

 

 

New Chapters

It’s happening in my house again.

Another kid is moving on.

And while this time it’s only promoting to high school, in my bones I can feel a shift.

My babies are growing up. And I am so very proud.

My daughter will stand proud this evening in her promotion robe, along with her bestest friend since they were babies.

And then they will  move on.

I will write about it, once the dust settles. Once I catch my breath at the quickness of those nine years of school.

But for today I share again what it was like last year at this time…when Pomp and Circumstance filled my heart.

 

Pomp and Circumstance

I almost don’t recognize him as he walks down the hallway from his bedroom.

Long black gown adorned with honor cords; black cap and 2011 tassel in his man-sized hands.

He’s ready to go.

His graduation is the end-result of spelling tests and learning cursive; of sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug and using his listening ears.

Of years of group projects, PowerPoint presentations, and cramming for finals; of early-morning alarm clocks and the pounds of heavy books he carried on his back.

And while somewhere deep inside me I can feel the tears, as he stands before me now I just feel pride.

The tears can wait for now.

Truth be told, there were tears earlier in the day. Pre-emptive tears, shed while dusting the family pictures and feeling mournful of the little boy smiling back at me from the frames.

I offer him a ride to the school, so we won’t have too many cars there when the ceremony is over.

Always logical, this mom.

The first time I left him in this parking lot, I watched him walk in with his backpack loaded and new shoes, ready to take whatever high school was ready to throw his way.

I can’t help but watch him as he walks in for the last time.

Walking tall and proud, in his gown.

Now he’s ready to go.

An hour later I sit in the football stadium, the dull roar of family and friends surrounding me. People have made banners and signs; hold bouquets of flowers and balloons for their graduates.

I hold nothing but my breath.

The band cues up the traditional Pomp and Circumstance song and far across the field I see the line of graduates begin filing in.

Gold gown, then black; girl, then boy.

Over five hundred of them, but there’s only one I’m looking for in the crowd.

At least one hundred students march towards their seats until I see him enter the stadium.

I bite my lip to catch myself from crying as I stare at this young man who used to hold my hand to cross the street; who wore footie jammies and loved mac and cheese.

Confident and proud, he carries himself around the corner and down the row to his seat.

The obligatory speeches follow, a medley of songs sung, the national anthem applauded.

And then, the names.

Over five hundred names. Air horns blow, cowbells clang, family and friends scream.

His row stands and begins their walk towards the podium.

More cheers, more cowbell.

And finally, they call it.

The name I wrote on that card in the hospital seventeen years ago.

There he is, my baby boy.

And he’s ready to go now.