Nostalgia slips in on tiny kitten paws at the strangest places and the most unexpected of times. Today I went out with my 16-year-old daughter to her annual physical. She got her learner’s permit less than a month ago and drove slowly but easily and with confidence, into the crowded parking lot. As soon as she put the car in Park, the lump in my throat thickened and I was unable to speak.
I started babbling and told her how proud I was of her. That from a shy, timid little girl she had grown into the most amazing, strong, confident and beautiful young woman. She looked at me, as only a teenage daughter can, with a bit of confusion, disgust and annoyance. Frankly, I can’t blame her.
For me, this week has consisted of writing an essay about my son who is now a senior in high school and writing checks for my daughter’s PSAT test and driver’s education course. Years have slipped into minutes as I felt the twisting and turning, and actual jabbing pain in my heart. We were still right there in the parking lot when my daughter, without a sound, casually handed me back my keys.
The pediatrician’s office was filled with little children, a girl named Maddie, age 3, reminded me of my daughter when she was that age. Inquisitve, bright, lovely with straight blond hair, she danced around the waiting room, talking to the bright yellow and blue fish that swam in the fish tank. We were called in moments later and after the initial hello to the doctor, the pediatrician who has known my daughter since she was about 5, I left the room. The doctor asked my daughter if she wanted me to come back when she had the shots, a yearly tradition, she shrugged her shoulders up and down and said “I don’t care.” It took me a minute to get up and leave; it was the first time my daughter hadn’t wanted to dig her fingernails, into my skin when she got the shot. I now missed the indentations her polished, blue fingernails would make in my hand.
It is hard to believe that next year my son will be in college and my daughter will be a senior. I feel like singing “Sunrise, Sunset” every day. Life passes by us, without reminders or stop signs. We have taught our children to be independent and strong, birds flying on their own. Times moves on and so must we. I’ve looked at old childhood photographs of when they were young but quickly replaced them with more up to date photos. I need to remind myself that they are young adults now. Once they leave for college it’s all very different. They don’t need us in the same way, we will see them less often but we will be here, quietly, patiently, with love, warmth and excitement whenever they want to come home. We will be waiting here, in their childhood home, with open arms.