When you first have children, it's hard to imagine them growing up. I mean, theoretically you know it happens (barring tragedy), but it just feels sort of impossible that so many years could pass, and that your babies could become grownups.
And then they do.
My oldest two children just graduated from college. Well, Michaela graduated in January from Northeastern, but her ceremony was this month--and Zack graduated from the College of William and Mary on Mother's Day. Suddenly my children are grown, have jobs, can legally drink and are solely responsible for their life decisions.
Kind of a wow moment.
They are still who they were as babies and children, in so many ways. They have the same eyes and smiles they have always had (eyes and smiles always stay the same, have you noticed that?). Michaela is still that lovely mix of playful and practical, optimistic and accepting. Zack is still a charmer and a romantic--and determined and ambitious. They like the the same kinds of jokes, books, movies and food that they always have.
But they are poised to leave and lead their own lives, and that's different.
Of course none of this happened suddenly. As much as I may feel exactly the same inside as I did when I first became a mother, time has passed. And as I look at the two of them now, I see that this was the point all along.
This was the point of all those diaper changes, all those nights spent holding them while they cried, all those drop-offs and pick-ups, Time-Outs and groundings, hours spent on the sidelines cheering or supervising homework. This was the point of all those parent-teacher conferences, of the family vacations and cuddling on the couch, of the long talks and the long silences too. This was the point of drying all those tears (mine too), of caring for scraped knees and broken hearts, of arguing and laughing together. This was the point of the exhausting and overwhelming day-in-day-out of parenting.
The point was to create an adult.
It's not like I'm done parenting them--we never stop being parents. But this is where my husband and I step back and say: you've got this now. Go for it. Be who you want to be, live the best life you can. We're here if you need us.
And now we sit back, hold our breaths, hope our best parenting lessons took and our worst parenting mistakes are forgotten, and watch to see what happens.
I feel just as excited as I did when they were babies. And just as curious to see what unfolds.