Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eighteen so soon?

Yesterday my "baby" graduated from High School. In 64 days she will become an adult.

The last of my children has completed that journey from baby to toddler to child to teenager to adult. Officially, our "child-rearing" days will be over. Tears fill my eyes even as I write the words and contemplate that thought.

Please don't confuse the sentiment, however. I am in no way unhappy about the progression. It is well and good. It is how it should be.

My daughter, in fact all three of my "children" (there should be a name for adult children to differentiate them from children-children) are wonderful, intelligent, motivated persons. I am pleased with each of them and enjoy being with them. I would not keep my daughter from turning 18 for anything. I only miss the baby and the little girl that she was. Indeed, she was quite a special little girl.

From the very beginning, she had the advantage of having two parents and two "little" parents. With siblings who were 9 and 11, she grew up with more instruction than perhaps she needed. There was always someone available to hold her, to talk to her, to sing to her. She did not lack for stimulation.

I can clearly remember the first night we heard her laugh, really belly-laugh. Our son Noah had been playing with her and had done something, made some sort of sound and she erupted into this shaking mass of baby laugh. We all fell apart laughing in response. Then we tried what it was Noah had done to duplicate the response, without success. Only Noah could produce the belly-laugh we were all so desiring.

When we first found out that we were expecting Emmie, my husband and I speculated about how our lives would change. With older children, we were used to some independence and were concerned about how "tied down" we would be with a baby in the house. However, she posed no restrictions on us whatsoever. Everywhere we went, Emmie went and if she wasn't welcomed, we didn't go. Through the years she became as much a companion and friend as a child, although we never lost that desire to create a smile and laughter in her.

Now she is approaching adulthood. Well, approaching it only in an official sense, because she is as much or more an adult than many people who have lived for several decades. She is level-headed and thoughtful. The little girl, with long blond hair and bright blue eyes, and little girl ways are long gone. The dreams and hopes and plans of the adult lay ahead.

In her wake are two parents who have fulfilled their duty given to them by the Lord. We have been fruitful, we have multiplied and leave three children and two grand-children in our places. The thought that our parenting is complete is somehow sad, however, as if a door is closing, an era ending. It is as unsettling for us as it must be exciting for our new graduate.

She is at that point in life where she will make her own decisions, her own plans, her own choices. We look ahead to a different life, but one where the path is yet hidden by the shade of the trees. She will choose her own career, her own friends and choose her own companions. We are waiting to see what turns and twists and choices await in the life ahead for us.

One thing is for certain though, I know of two people who are hoping those turns lead to a path close to hers, and who hope to be among her chosen companions.

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