She danced through the front door, tossed her overloaded backpack onto the couch and proudly announced, “I’m a senior!”
It was the last day of her high school junior year.
I’m no novice.
Elly is our baby. She is the surprise God had waiting for us after we decided we weren’t having any more children.
The last of four.
Lucky for Elly, every milestone she reaches is one we’ve worn out the ground around three times over.
I’m well aware of the fast and furious year that is about to follow Elly’s announcement.
The year that will bring us to the end of her childhood.
While in the throes of parenting, with the diapers, the bottles, play dates and car seats, it is a slow-road story being told.
In those years, the growing of children feels like a watched pot that never boils. The days roll forward like a Sunday driver and moms and dads are fooled into believing that this truly will last forever.
And then, suddenly, childhood speeds up, as if making up time for the years it forgot.
Like a vacation you planned that seems to take on a hectic frenzy the day before you leave, so is the senior year.
I watched Elly open the fridge and look for a snack. Her braids making her look even more innocent than she is. She talked nonstop about everything that mattered so much to her and made no difference in the big picture world.
I wanted to stop it right then, to grab hold of the kitchen clock hands and tell them, “Nope…not this time…I’m going to keep her here, right now in this exact space.”
Her big brown eyes all full of life and the promise of the future.
The future, where she is surely heading with all the hope brand new seniors hold.
We have this year.
Here is what I know.
The closer we get to next year’s graduation, the further apart we will become. She will work hard to display her independence and it will drive me crazy.
Days before graduation I will be secretly thrilled that my work here is done. Elly will have walked me to the brink of insanity with her senioritis.
Her high school superintendent will call her a 2020 graduate and she will move that tassel to the left, all of us applauding as we stand at the end of that road waving our children on.
And on they will go, but we will wait.
Because all mamas who have been to the end of their son or daughter’s childhood know that after a while, when life gets painful and the world feels cold, they will find their way to the place we dropped them off and reach for the arms of the people who love them in a way the world just doesn’t. And parenting becomes the slow road again, where we watch them live out the story we taught them.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?” Elly asked.
SHARI TVDRIK is director of special projects and communication for Cup of Cold Water Ministries. From the four corners of your living room to the other side of the globe, the mission to live God’s love is always and everywhere. She can be reached at email@example.com.